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Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,538 ratings  ·  227 reviews

Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, "abortion" is still a word that is said with outright hostility by many, despite the fact that one in three American women will have terminated at least one pregnancy by menopause. Even those who suppo
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Picador
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Rebecca Your understanding of the procedure to terminate a pregnancy is very skewed. You may want to do some real research because the scenario you describe…moreYour understanding of the procedure to terminate a pregnancy is very skewed. You may want to do some real research because the scenario you describe just doesn't happen.
Forcing a women into bearing a child she is physically, emotionally and financially unprepared for is the worst kind of irresponsibility. Birth control fails, women are raped, providing safe access to medical abortion is a sign of an intelligent and responsible society. Conception is merely one outcome of human sexuality not it's purpose. (less)
TopHat There is indeed a high level of ignorance in this great vast world and a great many differing opinions. I have sex because I enjoy sex. The purpose of…moreThere is indeed a high level of ignorance in this great vast world and a great many differing opinions. I have sex because I enjoy sex. The purpose of sex is pleasure, to celebrate my body and my lover's body, and because orgasms. I freaking love orgasms. I don't want to have a quiver-full of child molesters. I will continue to have sex long after menopause, long after the biological clock strikes thirteen. If the purpose of sex is merely procreation, why do elderly people contract the clap? (I guess they didn't get the darn memo). (less)

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 ·  1,538 ratings  ·  227 reviews

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Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Instead of shaming women for ending a pregnancy, we should acknowledge their realism and self-knowledge. We should accept that it's good for everyone if women have only the children they want and can raise well. Society benefits when women can commit to education and work and dreams without having at the back of their mind a concern that maybe it's all provisional, because at any moment an accidental pregnancy could derail them for life. It's good for children to be wanted, and to come into thi ...more
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, favorites
Katha Pollitt knows her audience. She knows she is unlikely to sway the opinions of abortion opponents, just as she knows the majority of Pro‘s readers will be pro-choice. But her aim is not to force-feed opinions to anti-choice readers. Instead, Pollitt hopes that Pro will take hold in the “muddled middle”; the space where the majority of Americans sit with hopes of restricting abortion rather than banning it.

“It’s as if we think motherhood is the default setting for a woman’s life from first p
mis fit
I have to confess, I have been slow on the uptake when it comes to realizing how absolutely crucial reproductive justice is for a more free society where all people can develop to their fullest capacities. As a feminist, this gap in my thinking is terrifying! I believe my shortsightedness up to this point reflects mainly two things. First of all, there’s my privilege. As a white, middle-class woman, living in mostly blue states, I haven’t had to personally face many obstacles to accessing heal ...more
This book is EVERYTHING. It is everything I think, everything I want to say, everything I feel about abortion, only smarter and funnier. I want every person in America to read this book, whether you are pro-abortion rights or not. Actually, ESPECIALLY if you're not. Because Katha Pollitt breaks down and refutes every anti-abortion argument with clear, reasoned, fantastic language. She re-frames motherhood, and the choice to be a mother or not, in an extraordinary way. It is, to my mind, the defi ...more
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“In the end, abortion is an issue of fundamental human rights. To force women to undergo pregnancy and childbirth against their will is to deprive them of the right to make basic decisions about their lives and well-being, and to give that power to the state. Moreover, the logic of the anti-abortion movement makes all pregnant women less than full citizens, including those who want to have a baby, because it places the supposed interests of the fetus ahead of the woman’s own interests and depriv ...more
Katie Klabusich
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read this book. The unapologetic reframing of issues around abortion and reproductive healthcare had me cheering from almost the first page through the last like I was watching a sporting event. I hope the author will forgive me from marking it up in dramatic fashion.
Whether you're new to reproductive rights or just getting involved or are simply tired of uterus-having humans dominating your elected officials' to-do lists and want them to move on to something more productive, this book is for y
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Finished this on November 7th. Suddenly became even more relevant on November 8th.
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book, in that:
1) It makes clear that abortion is common, and destroys stereotypes about those who seek abortion: by menopause 3 in 10 women will have terminated at least one pregnancy; excluding miscarriages, 21% of pregnancies end in abortion; around 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers and 70% are poor, or low-income.
2) It destroys the myth that churches are united against abortion: in the years leading up to Roe, legalization under some circumstances was e
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Katha Pollitt is a very clear and understandable writer, and she breaks down the complications of the abortion debate and shines a light on what "pro-life" means in practical terms here, and why pro-choice voters need to bring the same passion to the argument that (mostly religious, mostly conservative) anti-abortion campaigners have been bringing for decades. Abortions happen, and that's not a bad thing. Giving women the decision of when and how they become mothers is necessary for equal rights ...more
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
Finally, a book that might give me the courage to say what I've believed for a long time but been reluctant to speak: that abortion should be legal in every circumstance, on demand, at any time, no questions asked. Pollitt argues here that instead of being a tragedy, abortion is in fact a social good--that women getting what they want in their lives, whether it be a healthy relationship, an education, a job, or just a slightly easier and calmer life, is GOOD. And it's not just good for the women ...more
Leslie Ann
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I am firmly pro-choice - not a member of the "muddled middle" for whom this book is written - so am familiar with many of the arguments described in this book (e.g., anti-abortion groups are not really fighting for the rights of fetuses, but for the subjugation of women). I have not, however, followed this issue closely over the years, so did not realize the extent to which abortion rights have been eroded, or how Roe v. Wade - which Pollitt suggests as a compromise in the abortion wars - has it ...more
Sherreka Burton
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, must-buy
Review: Definitely another well-thought out book by Ms. Pollitt. She really helped me to firm up my beliefs on abortion. I originally thought that I knew what my stance was, but it turns out I was completely wishy-washy in my thinking. Now I’m 100% for abortion, without any reservations or moral imputations from a legal standpoint. This book was also a lot easier to read than Virginity or Death!.

Favorite Essay/Thought Process: “What Do Americans Think About Abortion?” This chapter was the one t
Ally P
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Perhaps we don't see abortion [as an act of self defense] because we don't think women have the right to a self. They are supposed to live for others. Qualities that are seen as normal and desirable in men - ambition, confidence, outspokenness - are perceived as selfish and aggressive in women...Perhaps that is why privacy has so little purchase on the abortion debate: Only a self can have privacy. Only a self can have equality."
Elizabeth Benedict
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a vital book that everyone who cares about women's health, rights, and the state of the land should read. It's incredibly deftly written, full of wit, insight, warmth, great information, and a clear perspective, after so many years of listening to such garbage and such hysteria from the anti-choice/anti-abortion/anti-women crowd who are running the entire country, it seems - at least the majority of the Supreme Court and the Congress. It has become a sad commonplace that the only "legit" ...more
Tamara Vallejos
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"For those who are troubled by America's high abortion rate, the good news is that we already know what will lower it: more feminism. More justice. More equality. More freedom. More respect."

The best book I've read all year, and a must-read for the majority. An amazing book that so logically, factually, and engagingly clears up myths, provides statistics, challenges our contradictions, and makes a passionate and thorough argument for championing the role of motherhood in America, in a way that a
Apr 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abortion
I have to give Katha Politt credit for trying – she pulls out all the stops to defend the pro-choice position. Unfortunately, she is unable to defend the indefensible. One problem is that she equates the pro-life movement with the Republican Party, it is a distortion. The Republican Party has interests that are different from and often opposed to the right to life movement. Just because the Republican Party has a breeze the pro-life position does not mean that pro-lifers unilaterally accept all ...more
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“Pro, Reclaiming Abortion Rights”, a just-published book by Katha Pollitt, could just as easily have been called “Because Women’s Lives Matter,” adopting the phrase used in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting. Framing reproductive rights as a Civil Right must be asserted if we are to successfully combat the increasing prohibitions against not only abortion but even birth control.
“Pro” is also a book about civil rights for women who choose to have children. This task – so crucial to the surviv
Alessandra Trindle
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
My husband gave me a copy of "Pro" as a holiday gift. At first glance, it didn't seem to be anything I *needed* to read. I'm strongly pro-choice and believe that reproductive rights belong first, and foremost, to women. My uterus is not a political poll or a legislative vote.

I went into it, thinking that a light perusal would be enough and that I could put it down and move onto something else after thirty minutes or so. Instead, on page 8, I found myself struck dumb by this sentence: "It's just
Lynne Premo
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
About 2 chapters into Pro, I thought to myself how much I would like to send the book to each and every member of the Louisiana state legislature and force them to read it, a la A Clockwork Orange. Everything she wrote just made so much sense, about power, women, healthcare, quality of life, and so on. She tied together in one bundle all of the various surveys, research, ideas, and commentary that have been put forth regarding reproductive justice issues. Everything she said made sense! Then I r ...more
Laura Lawson
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this to anyone who believes to any extent in a woman's right to choose. There is a strong tendency to approach highly charged (of which this is among the most highly charged) issues by seeking a "moderate" position. In the case of abortion, seeking compromise ignores the fact that compromise is already built into American law. Roe v. Wade already balances the interests of the pregnant woman and the state's interest in regulating abortions as the pregnancy moves forward. Therefo ...more
Bree Ervin
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is such an important book.
Katha Pollitt takes a calm look at the state of abortion rights in America and points out where we've gone astray. She speaks directly to the people who believe that abortion should be legal in some circumstances, but maybe not all circumstances and discusses both the history and repercussions of this stance.
She brings in facts, data and examples of how policy in the capital affects real people at home.
She asks us all to re-examine our ideas about abortion as a cu
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i was all set to give it only 4 stars, reasoning that while i had enjoyed it, i'd felt at times like pollitt was preaching to the choir. the last chapter, though - the one called "reframing motherhood" - the last chapter i want to read over and over again, to relive those moments of whispering, yes, to myself on the bus, blinking away tears. i want to shove it under people's noses, indicting them for the myriad ways they capitulate to (or enforce) women's state-sanctioned status as less than ful ...more
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women, non-fiction
Just based upon the title alone, It's clear that this is a book for people who are pro-choice but are perhaps a bit muddled in their views. It’s a well written and researched book that’s smart and funny (my favorite traits for a book). In it, Pollitt openly discusses the issues associated our society has with abortion. This feels so radical because it's not a conversation we're used to hearing. We tend to assign themes of good versus evil and stigmatize women if they come forward as having an ab ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed it and learned a lot. One basic takeaway is that people should stop being half hearted and guilty about supporting abortion rights. These rights have been an unambiguously good thing - and are a key source for women's ability to enter job market, pursue education, leave terrible men, have a more fulfilling life, etc. Another takeaway is that she refocuses the debate away from the tiny zygote and back on the woman and how abortion restrictions actually affect people in real life
Feb 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
"...Turning an act that is normal and necessary into something shameful and secretive."

I just barfed in my mouth a little bit.
Drinking and eating is normal and necessary.
Killing your unborn child however is not.
I'm still waiting for so called pro choice supporters to stop euphemizing their arguments and own up to what is really at stake when abortion rights are discussed, but it seems like I have to wait forever.
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hist-bio
Excellent. I wish I could remember at least a quarter of her points, in future arguments.
Sara Croft
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women, read-in-2015
Have you ever thought strongly about a topic, but could not put your ideas and feelings into words? Katha Pollitt does it for me in PRO, and I was hanging on to literally every word, sentence, quote, statistic and phrase. Eventually I stopped highlighting and underlining because every word is so important.

I was so excited while reading this book, I was literally shaking my head, shouting to my dogs and my husband as I said YES YES YES, like I was watching a sporting match.

What I love most about
Kelsey Myers
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've always considered myself pro-choice, so I was a bit afraid that this book would be preaching to the choir and I wouldn't get anything new from it besides a few updated statistics. I was completely wrong. This book is a must-read for any dedicated pro-choicer or the "muddle middle" as Katha Pollitt refers to them. It is highly unlikely this book will change the mind of anyone from the pro-life viewpoint, since it would certainly come across as condescending to those who already disagree (my ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's about damn time that someone as eloquent and persuasive as Katha Pollitt puts out a book like this that so succinctly cuts down the anti-choice/anti-woman right wing argument on abortion. Pollitt shows that the "controversy" around abortion is not, nor has ever been a "moral" issue about life, rather it's the ancient argument about where a woman's place is in the world. For the right wing that place is firmly within the home sphere: keeping the household, having children, diligently obeying ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
I found this a well organized book that tackled the individual points of the anti abortion movement in an accessible way. It really reiterated on multiple occasions that while on the surface the pro life movement wants to save the unborn it is mostly a moral judgement on the perceived promiscuity of women. The author is also questioning over and over where is the responsibility and the moral judgement of the men that were involved in the child making... spoiler alert: there is no moral judgement ...more
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Reading Along Wit...: Katha Pollitt: “Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights” 1 11 Oct 28, 2014 04:39PM  

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Katha Pollitt is well known for her wit and her keen sense of both the ridiculous and the sublime. Her Subject to Debate column, which debuted in 1995 and which the Washington Post called “the best place to go for original thinking on the left,” appears every other week in the Nation; it is frequently reprinted in newspapers across the country. In 2003, Subject to Debate won the National Magazine ...more
“And yet, women keep trying. They put off the rent or the utilities to scrape together the $500 for a first-trimester abortion. They drive across whole states to get to a clinic and sleep in their cars because they can’t afford a motel. They do not do this because they are careless sluts or because they hate babies or because they fail to see clearly what their alternatives are. They see the alternatives all too clearly. We live, as Ellen Willis wrote, in a society that is “actively hostile to women’s ambitions for a better life. Under these conditions the unwillingly pregnant woman faces a terrifying loss of control over her fate.” Abortion, wrote Willis, is an act of self-defense.5” 16 likes
“A man’s home is his castle, but a woman’s body has never been wholly her own. Historically, it’s belonged to her nation, her community, her father, her family, her husband—in 1973, when Roe was decided, marital rape was legal in every state. Why shouldn’t her body belong to a fertilized egg as well?” 9 likes
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