Abortion Pills

US History and Politics

Subjects: History, Women, Social Science, Women's Studies
Open Access : 9781943208869, 376 pages, 31 color images, 7 x 10, December 2024
Paperback : 9781943208852, 376 pages, 31 color images, 7 x 10, December 2024
Hardcover : 9781943208876, 376 pages, 31 color images, 7 x 10, December 2024
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Drawing on years of research and interviews with over eighty activists, abortion providers, medical researchers, lawyers, and people who have used abortion pills, Baker’s book is the first comprehensive history of abortion pills in the United States—why it took so long for the FDA to approve mifepristone, why the agency unnecessarily restricted the medication for decades, why so few doctors offered abortion pills, and how the COVID-19 pandemic and, ironically, the reversal of Roe v. Wade enabled activists to finally wrench mifepristone from the tight control of legal and medical authorities. Baker argues that resistance to increasing access to abortion pill came not only from the anti-abortion movement and Republican politicians, but resulted from a combination of factors, including FDA conservatism and cautiousness; the market-oriented pharmaceutical, healthcare, and insurance industries; mainstream medicine’s abandonment of abortion care; physician gatekeeping; Democrats’ lukewarm support for abortion; the influence of philanthropy in abortion healthcare and activism; and even the cautious approach of some abortion supporters.To gain access to abortion pills, determined and courageous activists waged a decades-long campaign to establish, expand, and maintain access to abortion pills in the United States.

Weaving their voices through her book, Baker recounts both the dramatic and everyday acts of their resistance. Abortion pills are now playing a critically important role in post-Roe America, providing safe abortion access to tens of thousands of people living in states with abortion bans. Knowing the history of abortion pills is critical to guaranteeing continuing access in the future.

Carrie N. Baker is the Sylvia Dlugasch Professor of American Studies and the Chair of the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. She has written four previous books and scores of peer-reviewed scholarly articles on gender, law and social movements for women’s rights. She is a regular writer and contributing editor at Ms. magazine, covering abortion politics, sexual harassment, and the Equal Rights Amendment.