Imagine that you’re sixteen years old and still in school.
Now imagine that you have just discovered that you’re pregnant.
From the 1870s until well into the twentieth century, buying birth control was illegal in the United States. And until the early 1970s, abortion was illegal in most states as well.
Desperate women sought illegal abortions from anyone who offered them or dangerously tried to end their pregnancies themselves. Tens of thousands of women were injured or maimed, and thousands died.
Women’s rights advocates, doctors, lawyers, and ordinary people fought religious and cultural traditions and often put their own reputations and freedom on the line to change the laws.
Ultimately, the decision came down to the nine men on the United States Supreme Court. On January 22, 1973, the court’s ruling in the case Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in every state.
Jane Against the World takes readers on an emotional and riveting journey through the intense fight for reproductive rights and one of the most controversial and divisive rulings in U.S. history—one that continues to reverberate today.
This eye-opening book is the perfect tool to facilitate difficult discussions and awareness of a topic that is rarely touched on in school but affects each and every young person.
This journalistic look at the history of abortion and the landmark case of Roe v. Wade is a necessary book.
"How Do You Explain the History of Reproductive Rights to Teenagers?" Elizabeth Rusch, The New York Times, 20 Feb 2020
An account of the tumultuous struggle for abortion rights in the United States. Blumenthal kicks off her narrative with a thrillerworthy scene: the 1972 raid by Chicago police on the eponymous “Jane,” an underground abortion referral service. The book then pulls back to offer an engaging history of developments in reproductive rights that contributed to the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Along the way there are brief biographies of key figures—some as famous (or infamous) as Anthony Comstock and Margaret Sanger, some virtually unknown but no less fascinating—placed within a nuanced context and punctuated by “Pregnant Pause[s]”: occasionally humorous, sometimes infuriating, often poignant sketches detailing the history of biological knowledge, birth control techniques, legal issues, popular opinion, and religious proclamations. A deep dive into the circumstances, personalities, deliberations, and compromises involved in Roe v. Wade (along with the frequently overlooked companion cases) takes up a dozen chapters, followed by a brief consideration of the consequences, backlash, and steady succession of laws and court cases chipping away at the decision. An epilogue brings the discussion up to the appointment of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Blumenthal’s bibliography demonstrates the depth of her research, including online, archival, and primary sources. This riveting book, enhanced by historical photographs, also addresses racial bias, the eugenics movement, and other critical related subjects. Gripping reading; necessary for every library serving teens. (glossary, timeline, significant Supreme Court cases, bibliography, notes) —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“In comprehensive detail, Blumenthal (Bonnie and Clyde) traces the complicated battle for reproductive rights in the U.S. from the late 1830s to today’s continued challenges. The centerpiece of the book is a scene-by-scene exposition of both hearings by the Supreme Court of the landmark Roe v. Wade case, in which Blumenthal sensitively illuminates the Supreme Court Justices’ struggles with the moral, medical, and legal aspects of abortion. The author also brings to life key figures in many arenas, including women faced with unwanted pregnancies who agreed (sometimes anonymously) to enter the legal fray, as well as doctors, clergy, and lawyers who actively helped or hindered either side. Closing chapters, entitled “Pushback: 1992–2000” and “Restrictions 2000-2016,” and the epilogue note the many ways in which reproductive rights continue to be vigorously contested. Written in clear, accessible language, as lively as it is thorough, the book presents the issue as far more nuanced and complex than the often sharply divided “pro-choice” and “pro-life” stances it is often boiled down to. Extensive back matter includes a glossary, timeline, wide-ranging bibliography, and notes. Ages 12–up. ” —Publishers Weekly
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