The best books for understanding why we need reproductive justice

Rickie Solinger Author Of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction
By Rickie Solinger

The Books I Picked & Why

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty

By Dorothy Roberts

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty

Why this book?

I go back to this book again and again and so do all the people I know who are committed to understanding reproductive politics in the United States. I read and reread this book because it’s a brilliant, basic, and perennially relevant explanation of the history, politics, and legal supports sustaining racialized reproduction in the United States, from the slavery regime to its long aftermath.


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Reproduction on the Reservation: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Colonialism in the Long Twentieth Century

By Brianna Theobald

Reproduction on the Reservation: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Colonialism in the Long Twentieth Century

Why this book?

This book is a first. Theobald gives us a really interesting and comprehensive history of pregnancy, birthing, motherhood -- and activism -- on the Crow Reservation in Montana. She explains the interventions of the federal government, for example, via coercive sterilization and child removal, and provides rich accounts of family, tribal, and inter-tribal resistance -- and claims of self-determination -- in the face of these interventions.


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Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology

By Deirdre Cooper Owens

Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology

Why this book?

Remember when the statute of Dr. J. Marion Sims was removed from Central Park a few years ago? Cooper Owens's book provides the back story: Sims's brutal, racist practices as a developer of gynecology and the equally horrible work of his many colleagues, who invented gynecology as a medical specialty, using the bodies of enslaved women in the 19th century South. Once these white, medical men perfected their techniques, they turned away from their Black "guinea pigs" and offered their new skills to white women who could pay and whose bodies and children were of value to the nation, according to white supremacist thinkers and actors.


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Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals

By Saidiya V. Hartman

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals

Why this book?

This is just simply a beautiful, powerful, unique -- poetic -- book about the lives of Black women at the beginning of the 20th century in New York and Philadelphia, women who crafted their own lives, in contexts heavy with coercions and degradations. Hartman is an extraordinary writer and a gorgeous thinker.


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Just Get on the Pill, 4: The Uneven Burden of Reproductive Politics

By Krystale E. Littlejohn

Just Get on the Pill, 4: The Uneven Burden of Reproductive Politics

Why this book?

This book has arrived with a bang, telling stories about how women and couples navigate questions of contraception. Littlejohn is a great writer, telling vivid story after vivid story about how decisions about contraception get made -- who has it easy, who doesn't, and why women rarely fall in the first category.


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