An extraordinary book with great history lessons…incredible stories….There’s something for everyone….Bold and wonderful.”—Cecile Richards, former President of Planned Parenthood and New York Times bestselling author of Make Trouble
"Urgent and timely...Kolbert and Kay’s pressing, informative, and engaging book is leading the charge in the right direction."—Gloria Steinem
“Kathryn Kolbert and Julie F. Kay, unparalleled experts, have written a rich, smart, and engaging book about why reproductive freedom is the crux of women's rights and equality. It's essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of democracy.”—Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her
“Controlling Women is a remarkably thorough account of the history of the legal fight for abortion rights in the United States and sets the stage for the work that still must be done to ensure that the broad spectrum of reproductive rights are a reality for all. Kolbert and Kay have added a vital resource to the pantheon.”—Nancy Northup, President and CEO, Center for Reproductive Rights
“The story feels both old and new. The wins, the backlash—it’s exhausting. How many times do women have to shout their abortions? How many times do women have to demand to have a voice about our own skin? But while Kay and Kolbert provide a necessary and urgent primer on the history of reproductive rights in America, they don’t just end the story here in this moment, where reproductive rights are under attack like never before, they push the conversation forward. Instead of making their mission smaller, they are expanding the vision of reproductive justice to include 'healthcare for all,' better sex ed, expanding access to birth control, reducing sexual abuse, violence, and harassment, and reducing maternal deaths.”—Lyz Lenz, author of Belabored
"I’ve been waiting for the handbook on reproductive rights and THIS IS IT."—Tess Holliday
“[Controlling Women] could not come at a more timely moment. A great book.”—Leta Hong Fincher, author of Betraying Big Brother and Leftover Women
“A passionate and essential reframing of the abortion issue based on common sense, historical fact, and human decency, Controlling Women will not just enrage, but inspire you.”—NPR's "The Weekly Reader"
“Controlling Women… aims to revive robust discussion of reproductive rights – and not a moment too soon – by making it clear just how much is at stake in whether abortion remains legal….The heart of this book is the detailed menu of legal and policy changes that Kolbert and Kay propose to help secure women’s reproductive rights in a world without Roe…Controlling Women seeks to motivate the supermajority of Americans who support Roe to appreciate the imminent threat…and, more important, to get them actively involved in restoring universal access….The road map that Kolbert and Kay provide is one that all of us must follow—with urgency.”—Ms. Magazine
"A knowledgeable, essential reframing of an incendiary issue based on common sense, historical fact, and simple decency."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“[Kolbert and Kay] make a powerful case for rethinking the legal and political strategies…This impassioned and well-argued rallying cry rings loud and clear."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] passionate, informative debut."—Booklist
"A concise and pragmatic discourse on abortion rights. [Kolbert and Kay's] book is neither reassuring nor despairing, and the authors outline steps for activists to take.... An essential guide."—Library Journal (starred)
“For anyone wanting to learn more about abortion access and the hidden hurdles, personal stories and [the] complete history of the fight for reproductive justice, Controlling Women is a must-read. Regardless of your knowledge of the topic, every feminist can learn more. Kolbert and Kay share their experiences since entering the reproductive justice fight from the legal point of view and provide an in-depth history of abortion restrictions with resources and narratives of abortion seekers….Controlling Women carefully explains the landscape of abortion access in America while keeping readers informed and encouraged to fight for better options. Pre-dating Roe v. Wade all the way to the modern age, Controlling Women provides a comprehensive look at what has changed but more so, what we are still waiting on.”—Rebellious Magazine
“Urgently needed....Both authors are undeniably experts in reproductive health policy and law; thankfully, they also know how to explain issues clearly and without rhetoric. Controlling Women includes a concise and accessible history of US abortion laws and the movement for reproductive justice and offers cogent recommendations that go beyond protecting abortion to include women’s rights more generally. It’s a good read... the pair’s reflections jolt the familiar and offer a fascinating behind-the-curtain glimpse at court machinations."—Women’s Review of Books
“A book filled with the nuts and bolts of how our rights have been stripped from us, yes, but it’s also a book that contains hope.”—Bookriot
**One of LitHub's Nonfiction Books You Should Read This Summer** **One of LitHub's Most Anticipated Books of 2021, Part Two** **A Newsday Summer Beach Read**
Kolbert and Kay, both attorneys who have spent their legal careers in service of reproductive justice, co-author a concise and pragmatic discourse on abortion rights. Their book is neither reassuring nor despairing, and the authors outline steps for activists to take in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by a conservative federal judiciary. Kolbert and Kay write that Roe's overturn is an inevitability, not a fear or suspicion. Their book is not intended to convince anti-abortion stalwarts to change their minds; it is written as a blueprint for advocates of reproductive justice. The steps it outlines go beyond access to contraception or abortion clinics; taking a holistic approach, it emphasizes the need for universal health care and affordable child care. Kolbert and Kay note throughout the book that the people most impacted by a ban on abortion will be people of color and impoverished people in rural areas, as part of their argument that reproductive justice activism must factor in the needs of LGBTQ families and be trans-inclusive. VERDICT The authors make clear that the ability to determine for oneself how and when to bear children is a human right and is essential to a person's agency over their own life and future. An essential guide; recommended for all collections.—Barrie Olmstead, Lewiston P.L., ID
Two legal titans who have been defending abortion rights for decades catch us up on the current disaster and plot the road ahead.
In 1992, Kolbert argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the case credited with saving Roe v. Wade, and Kay was instrumental in the legalization of abortion in Ireland. As they note at the beginning, they were motivated to write this book “because we both knew the Supreme Court was not the place to go to protect, never mind expand, abortion rights. We were tired of our movement repeatedly banging its head against the Court's marble walls and sought to strategize an affirmative path forward." Then, as they were writing, the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett made the conservative majority absolute and the demise of Roe more likely. Yet as the authors point out, abortion is a common medical procedure for women: Nearly 1 in 4 has an abortion by age 45. As such, "the abortion debate is an embodiment of the conflict between traditional and more modern concepts of gender roles." By placing abortion in a human rights context—thus connecting it to racial inequality, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny in general—Kolbert and Kay "offer an opportunity to dream bigger and differently and to bring in new allies." They share the firsthand stories of their landmark cases as well as heartbreaking dramas from the front lines. These include the bribing of the original Jane Roe by conservatives to flip her position on abortion; kidnapping charges against a woman who tried to help a pregnant 13-year-old; the senseless death of a young mother who was refused a medically necessary abortion; and the incarceration of a woman who ordered abortion medication for her daughter. In the closing chapters, the authors speak directly to current and potential activists, sharing the "big dreams" mentioned earlier—e.g., the EACH Woman Act (Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance)—and many other practical ideas.
A knowledgeable, essential reframing of an incendiary issue based on common sense, historical fact, and simple decency.