A stunning, compassionate history of an overlooked element within the abortion-rights movement in the U.S.

BODIES ON THE LINE

AT THE FRONT LINES OF THE FIGHT TO PROTECT ABORTION IN AMERICA

A history of the abortion-rights movement told through the lens of abortion clinic escorts.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, women’s reproductive rights have been under attack. Much of the battle has occurred legislatively, particularly through bans at the local level. But as Rankin shows, another danger is the contingent of protestors who attempt to halt abortion by physically blocking access to services and whose ultimate goal is to shut down clinics. “If you live in one of the 10 percent of U.S. counties that still has an abortion clinic,” writes the author, who served as an abortion escort for six years in New Jersey, “there is probably a group of picketers outside of it right now.” As early as 1988, when a group called Operation Rescue “conducted 182 blockades” of clinics, a group of abortion-rights activists began to create the first “clinic defense networks,” which ensured that patients could access important health services. This proved to be the vital beginning of the abortion escort movement. In the years that followed, escorts organized against everything from blockades and clinic closures to the murder of providers. When their local clinics were shut, escorts found new, behind-the-scenes ways to support patients needing abortions, including amassing funding for those who couldn’t afford the procedure. Although the introduction of right-wing judges during the Trump administration has rendered abortion’s legality more tenuous than ever, escorts remain active and ready to fight. Rankin’s passion for women’s health blazes on the page, and she is adept at connecting disparate events to create a cohesive historical narrative. At times, the plethora of profiles makes it difficult to keep track of the principals, but this is an important book nonetheless.

A stunning, compassionate history of an overlooked element within the abortion-rights movement in the U.S.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64009-474-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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