Sunday, June 17, 2007
Caitlin Flanagan on "Abortion and the Bloodiness of Being Female"
In The Sanguine Sex (Atlantic Monthly, 5/07), Caitlin Flanagan reviews two books on abortion and unintended pregnancy: Angela Bonavoglia's The Choices We Made and Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade. From the review:
The history of abortion is a history of stories, and the ones that took place before Roe v. Wade are oftentimes so pitiable and heartbreaking that one of the most powerful tools of pro-choice advocates is simply telling them. The Choices We Made is a compendium of such stories, and while you could read it in an afternoon, you should not make the decision to do so lightly: It will trouble you for a long time afterward....
The Girls Who Went Away describes another price women once paid for having sex. It concerns the young girls—usually high-school students—who were part of a phenomenon virtually unheard-of today but once quite common in American cities and suburbs: the sending of underage pregnant girls to maternity homes, where they would bear their babies and surrender them for adoption. Neighbors and friends would be told that the girl had suddenly gone on an extended visit to an aunt or grandmother, and in the fullness of time the girl would return, pale and shaken, to pick up where she had left off, never telling anyone where she had been.
...The heroic and audacious and mystifying part of the stories in these two books isn’t how women got through abortions or adoptions; it’s how they got the courage to have sex in the first place.