Tag Archives: abortion

My Rubenstein Library: Mary Ziegler on The Abortion Wars

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.

CARASA001resizedThe 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.


Rights! Camera! Action!: 12th & Delaware

Twelfth and Delaware posterDate: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: The FHI Garage, Smith Warehouse Bay 4, 114 S. Buchanan St. (map)
Contact information: Patrick Stawski, 919-660-5823 or patrick.stawski(at)duke.edu

Co-Director Heidi Ewing and Carey Pope (Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina) will lead a discussion following the film.

12th and Delaware takes its name from an intersection in Fort Pierce, Florida, where an abortion clinic named A Woman’s World sits across the street from the pro-life Pregnancy Care Center. Pregnant teenagers and women often mistake the pro-life center for the abortion clinic, and are patiently and persuasively counseled by its staff, often with deceptive tactics, to keep their pregnancies. Meanwhile, the medical staff of the clinic try to counsel patients to make their own choices and to perform their work as pro-life protesters walk the sidewalk in front of the clinic day and night. Turning a non-judgmental lens on both camps, filmmakers Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing use the extraordinary access they gained to practitioners, protestors, and patients to show us a conflict with seemingly no possible resolution.

The screening will be followed by a discussion panel. Heidi Ewing has been making critically acclaimed documentary films and television programs with co-director and -producer Rachel Grady for over ten years. Their film Jesus Camp, a candid look at Pentecostal children in America, was nominated for a 2007 Academy Award for best documentary feature. Two years earlier, The Boys of Baraka, about a group of “at-risk” pre-teens from Baltimore who attend an experimental boarding school in Kenya, was nominated for an Emmy. 12th and Delaware premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and, among other honors, won the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at the 2010 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

Carey Pope is the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. She has worked in the fields of reproductive and sexual health education, research and advocacy for more than eight years in Houston, Washington, DC, and North Carolina. She holds a master’s degree in public policy and women’s studies from The George Washington University and a B.A. in English and women’s studies from North Carolina State University.

About Rights! Camera! Action!: Featuring award-winning documentaries about human rights themes from Durham’s annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the series explores issues ranging from the immigration and refugee rights to the justice system and the environment. All films featured in the series are archived at the Duke Library and are part of a rich and expanding collection of human rights materials. Co-sponsors include The Human Rights Archive, the Duke Human Rights Center, the Archive of Documentary Arts, the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Program in Arts of the Moving Image (AMI).  Special co-sponsor for this screening: Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.