Comics for Choice edited by Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor & O.K Fox

comics-for-chioceComics for Choice is an anthology of over forty comics about abortion. The contributors come from a diverse range of background and experiences. Authors, activists, medical professionals, historians, lawyers, as well as folks with their own personal abortion stories to tell, partnered with cartoonists and illustrators to create this book of wonderful and wide-ranging comics.

I loved the diversity of stories in this book. There were many personal stories about getting abortions, but no two were alike. For some people, the experience was easy, quick, uplifting, freeing. For others, it was hard and sometimes traumatic. There were stories about people getting abortions at many different stages of life, for many different reasons, in many different ways. It was wonderful to see so many different voices represented. Most of the contributors were women, although there were some trans and nonbinary folk included as well, which speaks to the honesty and care that went into making this book. Trans voices are often overlooked and ignored when it comes to abortion. Not everyone who has one is a woman. I really appreciated that people of many genders got to tell their stories here.

What all these comics had in common was a fierce belief in safe and affordable access to abortion, as well as the importance of sharing abortion stories. There is still so much stigma around abortion, and this book addresses that directly. It was so moving to see all these stories collected in one place. Reading this book made me angry, certainly–at how hard we’ve had to fight for abortion access, at how hard it still is for many people to get safe abortion, at the virtual and hatred and violence pretreated by those who didn’t believe humans should be in charge of their own bodies. But more than that, this book felt like a celebration–of storytelling, of freedom, of connection and community, of courageous and ordinary activists, of strong women, of the power both of words and of standing up for yourself and your life.

The comics weren’t all personal abortion stories. There were also comics about abortion providers, clinic escorts and abortion fund volunteers, and the history of abortion access and reproductive justice. I especially enjoyed “They Called Her Dr. D”, the story of Dorothy Brown, Tennessee’s first black legislator, an early advocate for abortion reform, and a doctor herself and “Jane” the story of an activist group in Chicago in the 1970s that provided illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade. There were some fantastic comics about the history of abortion trials pre Roe v. Wade, the current state of US abortion law and how it fails to serve poor people, how the segregation of abortion services from other health services affects patients, and about the work of abortion doulas and clinic escorts.

As a whole, this book paints a powerful picture of the fight for reproductive justice in America. It’s a diverse collection of comics, written by folks of many races, genders, ages, and economic backgrounds, not only about abortion, but about health care, mental health, family, relationships, identity, racial and economic justice, organizing, self-care, sex, politics, and access. It’s a book about the importance of self-determination and having control over your body. It celebrates the many paths to parenthood and family making (and the paths away from it), and it affirms that, though people have vastly different experiences with abortion, all of those experiences are valid, worth sharing and never shameful.

Comics for Choice is empowering, beautiful, honest and fierce. It’s a testament to the importance of reproductive justice. It says, over and over again, in a hundred different ways: you are not alone. I want to give it to everyone I know, because even if you’ve never had an abortion, chances are you love someone who has

 

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