With generous assistance from a 2013 Mary Lily Research Grant, I visited the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture last summer to do research for an article and for my book, now under contract with Harvard University Press, The Lost History of the Abortion Debate.
The Bingham Center offers researchers access to many forgotten voices from the abortion wars, from pioneering feminists to founding members of the women’s health movement. I focused on materials documenting the policies and struggles of abortion providers in the years after Roe v. Wade. My search uncovered documents chronicling the work of individual clinics and the activities of political organizations, like the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, that lobby for those working in clinics. These documents revealed a complex legal discourse forged by lay actors—women, clinic staff, providers and activists seeking to redefine what abortion rights meant. Non-lawyers routinely interpreted Supreme Court decisions, using them as raw material for new visions of reproductive freedom.
The story told by the documents housed at the Bingham Center differs substantially from the conventional narrative of post-1973 abortion politics. We often believe that the Supreme Court set the course for the abortion wars of future decades. In particular, by defining abortion as a privacy issue, the Court supposedly short-circuited popular debate about what abortion rights ought to mean. The materials I found complicated this narrative. Far from leaving constitutional issues to the courts, providers, patients, and political activists drew on judicial decisions in creating bold, new ideas about the rights women deserved. The documents I found at the Bingham Center provide indispensable evidence of the true impact of Roe, since the Bingham collections recapture the often-neglected voices of abortion providers. We stand to learn a great deal from studying these materials. I certainly did.
Post contributed by Mary Ziegler, an assistant professor of law at Florida State University College of Law.
Search The Devil’s Tale
Tag Cloud2011acquisitions 2012acquisition 2013acquisition advertisements advertising African American African American history archives artistsbooks civilwar conservation diaries digitization documentary dorisduke dukehistory durhamhistory economists events film fullframe games Haiti Heschel holidays human rights letterhead literature longcivilrights madmen Mad Men madmenmondays medicine movediary move prep movinghom photography recipes renovation rubensteinstaff scrapbooks sports students women's history zines
The Devil’s Tale Archive
- Louis E. Williams papers, 1951-1971 and undated. July 28, 2014
- Jean Kilbourne papers July 23, 2014
- Williamston, N.C. Civil Rights journal, 1963 November 11-20. July 22, 2014
- Theater Three Collaborative records, 1970-2014. July 22, 2014
- Ellsa Lucile Hozman travel diary, 1913 April 29-1913 August 28. July 21, 2014
- Das veränderte Russland : in welchem die ietzige verfassung des geist- und weltlichen Regiments : der Krieges-Staat zu Lande und zu Wasser, wahre Zustand der russischen Finantzen, die geöffneten Berg-Wercke, die eingeführte Academien, Künste, Manufacturen, Verordnungen, Geschäffte mit denen asiatischen Nachbaren und Vafallen, nebst der allerneuesten Nachricht von diesen Völckern : die Begebenheiten des Czaergangene, und was sich sonst merckwürdiges in Russland zugetragen, nebst verschiedenen andern bissher unbekandten Rachrichten in einem biss 1720 gehenden Journal vorgestellet werden, mit einer accuraten Land-Carte und Kupfferstichen versehen. July 17, 2014
- L'anatomie pacifique nouvelle et curieuse : conforme à la doctrine d'Hippocrate & de Galien, qui donne les moyens d'accorder les recents avec les anciens, par des experiences nouvelles, principalement touchant les actions du coeur & des poulmons July 17, 2014
- Beytrag zur Geschichte Russlands vom Jahr 1727 bis 1744 : nebst einem Anhange über die damalige Beschaffenheit des Kriegs- des Seewesens, des Handels, der Academie &c. &c. : mit Charten und Planen : aus einer franzöisischen Handschrift. July 17, 2014
- Rhyme? and reason? July 14, 2014
- Now we are six July 14, 2014
- The secret book of the black arts : containing all that is known upon the occult sciences of daemonology, spirit rappings, witchcraft, sorcery, astrology, palmistry, mind reading, spiritualism, table turning, ghosts and apparitions, omens, lucky and unlucky signs and days, dreams, charms, divination, second sight, mesmerism, clairvoyance, psychological fascination, etc. ... : together with a mass of other matter, giving inner views of the arts and sciences, whether recondite and obscure, or plain and practical July 28, 2014
- Rules of the Palmetto Rifleman. Founded on the 1. February, 1858. Rules revised on the 12. July, 1859 July 28, 2014
- The Southern Methodist pulpit (Volume v.4:no.8 c.1) July 21, 2014
- The Southern Methodist pulpit (Volume v.4:no.6 c.1) July 21, 2014
- The Southern Methodist pulpit (Volume v.4:no.5 c.1) July 21, 2014