Book The Thirty-Sixth

The Abortionist by Rickie Solinger

Now, this was interesting. The true story of Ruth Barnett, an abortionist for the better part of fifty years back when such things were illegal. It is a fascinating look at the time period, and breaks the myth that it was a shameful back-ally procedure. I mean, it was a shameful, back ally procedure, but what I didn’t know was that it was also seen largely as a victimless crime, which the police almost completely failed to prosecute so long as a) no one died, and b) the bribe money kept flowing freely.

Solinger realises what so many other biographers have done – her subject alone cannot sustain three hundred pages – but instead of increasingly painful and desperate digressions (which is a familiar burden to anyone who reads a lot of this sort of thing), she admits, in a piece of refreshing straightforwardness, that she is going to change tack, then spends a hundred pages talking about other figures important to the industry at the time.

There is some bias: Solinger is openly pro-choice, and makes no secret that she is not presenting both sides of the argument, rather painting a (possibly too) flattering picture of a woman who polarised opinions during her career and long after it.

Read this. You’ll probably learn something.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Book The Thirty-Sixth

  1. Lily

    Oh, this sounds interesting. Is it about the NZ situation or international? NZ’s history of abortion law is actually pretty fascinating.

    • apathyjack

      Only the US, I’m afraid. It focuses pretty closely on Ruth Barnett for most of the book, and sticks to individuals even when it digresses from her.

      That having been said, it seemed like the figures portrayed in the book were a representative microcosm of what was happening in the ‘States as a whole. But no: no international stuff…

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