12 Things on MD NARAL’s Summer Reading/Watch List

by Shay Upadhyay

The following books, documentaries, and movies have been recommended by NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund staff and interns. Please note that some of the documentaries and movies require a subscription to a streaming service while others remain free to watch online. We encourage you to shop local if purchasing books. Enjoy!

Documentaries

  1. 12th and Delaware
HBO Films

Available on: Amazon Prime, HBO Now (Subscription), HBO Max (Subscription)

Rated: 16+

Runtime: 1 hr 20 min

“One street corner in Fort Pierce, Fla., is home to both a for-profit abortion clinic and a Roman Catholic Church-supported pregnancy clinic whose mission is to prevent women from obtaining abortions. While the abortion clinic takes precautions against threats of violence and fends off protesters, the pregnancy clinic actively spreads misinformation to women about the dangers of abortion. Though neither side will speak to the other, the battle over a woman’s right to choose rages on.” — Rotten Tomatoes

2. Reversing Roe (2018)

Netflix

Available on: Netflix (Subscription)

Rated:

Runtime: 1 hr 39 min

“A deep historical look at one of the most controversial issues of our time, highlighting the abortion debate from various points along the ideological spectrum in a winding story of abortion in America.” — IMDb

3. Period. End of Sentence.

Netflix

Available on: Netflix (Subscription)

Rated: PG

Runtime: 26 min

“In Rural India, where the stigma of menstruation persists, women make low-cost sanitary pads on a new machine and stride toward financial independence.” — Netflix

4. The Abortion Diaries

Penny Lane

Available on: Penny Lane is My Real Name (Watch for Free)

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 30 min

“The Abortion Diaries is a 2005 documentary by Penny Lane, featuring twelve women speaking candidly about their experiences with abortion. The women’s stories weave together with the filmmaker’s diary entries to present a moving and at times surprisingly funny “dinner party” where the audience is invited to hear what women say behind closed doors about motherhood, medical technology, sex, spirituality, love and their own bodies. The Abortion Diaries clocks in at just 30-minutes, making it the perfect film for your next class discussion, mom’s group, fundraising event or house party.” — Penny Lane is My Real Name website

5. After Tiller

Ro*co

Available on: Amazon Prime, Tubi (Subscription), YouTube

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hr 27 min

“This controversial documentary follows the only four remaining doctors in the United States who openly perform late-term abortions.” — Prime Video

Movies

6. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)

Focus Features

Available on: YouTube, Amazon Prime

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hr 41 min

“Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin, Skylar, travel across state lines to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.” — Rotten Tomatoes

Books

7. Killing the Black Body

Penguin Random House

Author: Dorothy Roberts

“In 1997, this groundbreaking book made a powerful entrance into the national conversation on race. In a media landscape dominated by racially biased images of welfare queens and crack babies, Killing the Black Body exposed America’s systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies. From slave masters’ economic stake in bonded women’s fertility to government programs that coerced thousands of poor Black women into being sterilized as late as the 1970s, these abuses pointed to the degradation of Black motherhood — and the exclusion of Black women’s reproductive needs in mainstream feminist and civil rights agendas.” — Penguin Random House

8. Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood

Cambridge University Press

Author: Michelle Goodwin

“Policing the Womb brings to life the chilling ways in which women have become the targets of secretive state surveillance of their pregnancies. Michele Goodwin expands the reproductive health and rights debate beyond abortion to include how legislators increasingly turn to criminalizing women for miscarriages, stillbirths, and threatening the health of their pregnancies. The horrific results include women giving birth while shackled in leg irons, in solitary confinement, and even delivering in prison toilets. In some states, pregnancy has become a bargaining chip with prosecutors offering reduced sentences in exchange for women agreeing to be sterilized. The author shows how prosecutors may abuse laws and infringe women’s rights in the process, sometimes with the complicity of medical providers who disclose private patient information to law enforcement. Often the women most affected are poor and of color. This timely book brings to light how the unrestrained efforts to punish and police women’s bodies have led to the United States being the deadliest country in the developed world to be pregnant.” — Goodreads

9. Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America

University of California Press

Author: David S. Cohen and Carole Joffe

Obstacle Course tells the story of abortion in America, capturing a disturbing reality of insurmountable barriers people face when trying to exercise their legal rights to medical services. Authors David S. Cohen and Carole Joffe lay bare the often arduous and unnecessarily burdensome process of terminating a pregnancy: the sabotaged decision-making, clinics in remote locations, insurance bans, harassing protesters, forced ultrasounds and dishonest medical information, arbitrary waiting periods, and unjustified procedure limitations.” — Amazon

10. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot

Viking

Author: Mikki Kendall

“Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?” — Penguin Random House

11. Shout Your Abortion

PM Press

Author: various authors; edited by Amelia Bonow and Emily Nokes

“Following the U.S. Congress’s attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion became a viral conduit for abortion storytelling, receiving extensive media coverage and positioning real human experiences at the center of America’s abortion debate for the very first time. The online momentum sparked a grassroots movement that has subsequently inspired countless individuals to share their abortion stories in art, media, and community events all over the country, and to begin building platforms for others to do the same. Shout Your Abortion is a collection of photos, essays, and creative work inspired by the movement of the same name, a template for building new communities of healing, and a call to action. Since SYA’s inception, people all over the country have shared stories and begun organizing in a range of ways: making art, hosting comedy shows, creating abortion-positive clothing, altering billboards, starting conversations that had never happened before. This book documents some of these projects and illuminates the individuals who have breathed life into this movement, illustrating the profound liberatory and political power of defying shame and claiming sole authorship of our experiences. With Roe vs. Wade on the brink of reversal, the act of shouting one’s abortion has become explicitly radical, and Shout Your Abortion is needed more urgently than ever before.” — Shout Your Abortion website

12. The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having — or Being Denied — an Abortion

Schribner

Author: Diana Greene Foster

“As the national debate around abortion intensifies, The Turnaway Study offers the first thorough, data-driven examination of the negative consequences for women who cannot get abortions and provides incontrovertible evidence to refute the claim that abortion harms women. Interwoven with the study findings are ten “engaging, in-depth” (Ms. Magazine) first-person narratives. Candid, intimate, and deeply revealing, they bring to life the women and the stories behind the science. Revelatory, essential, and “particularly relevant now” (HuffPost), this is a must-read for anyone who cares about the impact of abortion and abortion restrictions on people’s lives.” — Simon and Schuster

The political leader of the pro-choice movement in Maryland.