After the shit show that was the (legislative side of the) election in the U.S. earlier this month, I needed to read a book that would both make me angry and inspire me. I hadn’t heard about this book before I saw it at our local bookstore, which surprises me, as I thought I was on all of the feminist killjoy mailing lists.
Pro is a well-researched, well-argued look at why abortion rights are so important. That “pro” stands for pro-choice, and it is explored from multiple directions and through different lenses. Ms. Pollitt’s main argument is that those who are “pro-life” aren’t actually pro-life, but more interested in policing the sexuality of women. This isn’t exactly ground-breaking; feminists have been saying this for years. But this book differs in that it lays out literally all of the arguments in favor of banning abortion (either at all stages of pregnancy, or at specific stages, or for different circumstances) and knocks each on down, showing the inconsistencies as well as the impacts these views have on very real women.
The book is over 200 pages long but it only has eight chapters, because each chapter is devoted to going really in-depth into an area of discussion. Early on she shares with us the data on U.S. views on abortion, and how they aren’t really that consistent with the actions U.S. voters support. She then explores the idea of “personhood,” and whether those who oppose abortion really do view the blastocyst, embryo, or first trimester fetus as a person with the same rights as the pregnant person (ultimately arguing that they don’t, because of the other actions they take). This is followed by an exploration of whether women are actually people, some myths about abortion, and then the concept that it isn’t so much abortion, but what abortion represents (woman’s increased control of her life) that pro-life people oppose. Finally, she ends with a look at why compromise isn’t actually an option, followed by what it would mean to truly support women as mothers.
The only problem I have with this book is one that I have with any book that talks about reproductive rights, and it is the complete lack of recognition of the trans issues involved. Yes, it is usually women who are the target of laws restricting abortion, but trans men can also get pregnant, and are victimized by these laws as well, and there’s just no mention of that.
The author claims the target audience of the book is people who aren’t really sure where they stand on the issue, and I agree that these folks might find this book interesting. I think it’s also great for those of us who are very clear on where we stand but could use a little additional education.