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Histories of Abortion in the United States

Image of protestors holding pro-choice and anti-abortion signs outside the Supreme Court of the United States.

Image by Jordan Uhl via Flickr, under CC BY 2.0.

The Journal of American History compiled the following index for readers who would like to learn more about the history of abortion, reproductive rights, and Roe v. Wade. Updated in 2022, this index consists of more than two dozen book and film reviews printed in the JAH. Collectively, these reviews offer a sweeping survey of the field as it has evolved over the last four decades.

Author Title Reviewer Year Released
Jennifer L. Holland Tiny You: A Western History of the Anti-Abortion Movement Richard Hughes 2020
Hannah Dudley-Shotwell Revolutionizing Women’s Healthcare: The Feminist Self-Help Movement in America Amy Hay 2020
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Amma Asante, Laura de Clermont-Tonnerre, and Janicza Bravo, directors. Mrs. America Jane Kamensky 2020
Brianna Theobald Reproduction on the Reservation: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Colonialism in the Long Twentieth Century Mary Jane Logan McCallum 2019
Hilde Løvdal Stephens Family Matters: James Dobson and Focus on the Family’s Crusade for the Christian Home John W. Compton 2019
Mary Ziegler Beyond Abortion: Roe v. Wade and the Battle for Privacy Nancy Maveety 2018
Karissa Haugeberg Women against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century Catherine E. Rymph 2017
Lisa Riggin San Francisco’s Queen of Vice: The Strange Career of Abortionist Inez Brown Burns Rebecca Kluchin 2017
Daniel K. Williams Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade Keith Cassidy 2016
Johanna Schoen Abortion after Roe Rebecca M. Kluchin 2015
Jennifer Nelson More Than Medicine: A History of the Feminist Women’s Health Movement Sharra Vostral 2015
Karen Weingarten Abortion in the American Imagination: Before Life and Choice, 1880–1940 Simone Caron 2014
Justin Buckley Dyer Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning Rebecca E. Zietlow 2013
Sara Dubow Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America Leslie J. Reagan 2011
Jamie Q. Tallman The Notorious Dr. Flippin: Abortion and Consequence in the Early Twentieth Century Simone Caron 2011
Leslie J. Reagan Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America Margaret Marsh 2010
Simone Caron Who Chooses? American Reproductive History since 1830 Margaret Marsh 2008
Burns Gene The Moral Veto: Framing Contraception, Abortion, and Cultural Pluralism in the United States Keith Cassidy 2006
Johanna Schoen Choice & Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Health and Welfare Jennifer Nelson 2005
Rickie Solinger Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America Janet Golden 2005
William Saletan Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War Leslie J. Reagan 2003
Jennifer Nelson Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement Amy Kesselman 2003
Nathan Stormer Articulating Life’s Memory: U.S. Medical Rhetoric about Abortion in the Nineteenth Century Keith Cassidy 2002
Rickie Solinger Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States Janet Farrell Brodie 2001
Leslie J. Reagan When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867–1975 David J. Garrow 1997
Dorothy Fadiman, Daniel Meyers, and Beth Seltzer, producers From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion Amy Kesselman 1996
Janet Farrell Brodie Contraception and Abortion in NineteenthCentury America Leslie J. Reagan 1994
F.L. Morton Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life: Abortion and the Courts in Canada Suzanne Staggenborg 1994
Eva R. Rubin, editor The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History Sally G. McMillen 1994
David J. Garrow Liberty and Sexuality. The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade Donald T. Critchlow 1994
Suzanne Staggenborg The Pro-Choice Movement: Organization and Activism in the Abortion Conflict Alice Echols 1991
James C. Mohr Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800–1900 James Harvey Young 1978

For a 2019 essay on the history of abortion in the United States, check out this piece by historian Jennifer L. Holland. For other insights into the contents of the Journal of American History, click here.