According to the most recent statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of abortion has fallen dramatically over the past two decades. Even so, it’s estimated that for women ages 15 to 44, there are 186 abortions per 1,000 live births. Regardless of the reason a woman chooses she is not ready to become a mother, or perhaps, have another child, the experience is one that challenges her physically, emotionally, and mentally. While a female’s womb is often a point of debate and contention between political parties and religious subgroups, the act of abortion is intimate and personal. And for many women, even if they feel certain and confident in their decision, recovering from this often invasive, and at times, painful, procedure requires healing and for some, therapy.

In response to this process, many books—from memoirs to fiction—have been published in an effort to illustrate every side of the issue, and most importantly, give these women a voice. If you or someone you love has recently had an abortion or is considering one, or you’re curious and want to learn more about this heated topic, consider these five selections.

The Healing Choice: Your Guide to Emotional Recovery After An Abortion

Maya Frost is a feminist and founder of Compassionate Survivalist, a social enterprise empowering women to stay safe and help others in an emergency. Thanks to her work and background, she has discovered various reads that are beneficial to women following an abortion. Her top pick is written by two psychotherapists, Candace DePuy and Dana Dovitch, giving it an edge of expertise and science. After all, it can be a confusing period when a woman processes her abortion. “It helps women recognize the emotions that may arise—or may not—right after the abortion, and offers self-care tips for those who are struggling, or for those who feel disturbed by their lack of emotion,” Frost says. “This book gives women permission to honor their own journey, and to recognize that having an abortion can be a radical act of self-care and compassion.”

They Weep On My Doorstep

Since the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade guaranteed a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion, this 1973 case has been debated time and time again. But while this may lead some may believe abortions started in the ‘70s, this book makes it clear that women (and their partners) have always found a way to end an unwanted pregnancy. Roe v. Wade just created a safer and medically-sanctioned environment in which to do so. Sexuality educator, counselor, and consultant, Kelly J. Connell M.S.Ed, C.A.S.H.S.E recommends this autobiography for a glimpse into what the experience was like before abortions became legal. “This book shows you the life of a female abortionist pre-Roe and how she never wanted to turn any woman away and all the risks she took,” she shares.

A Book of American Martyrs

Recently released, this book weaves together an abortionist, a gunman, and their families, in a novel that Frost describes as timely and moving. As you flip through the pages, you’ll hear from an abortion doctor’s surviving family members and the family of the gunman who shot him. “There aren’t many novels that address the abortion issue as a whole, as most simply tell the story of one character’s experience. Reading about the fictional families provided additional context for a more thoughtful understanding of different viewpoints,” Frost explains.

Life’s Work

Though the act of an abortion is and should remain a woman’s choice, and many fall victim to protests and angry rants as they walk through the clinic doors, many doctors who choose to perform the procedure are also victims of hate crimes. In this book, Connell says American physician Dr. Willie Parker shares his amazing story of becoming a medical professional who stands by this Constitutionally-protected human right. The kicker? Dr. Parker is a Christian, and explains why he supports abortions. In fact, he stands by them so steadfastly he sits on the board of institutions working in reproductive justice and travels to Mississippi’s last-standing clinc each month just to help with abortion care. “So many think Christians are only against abortion and that there is no religious or moral argument for choice, and that is just not true,” Connell adds.

The Choices We Made

If you devour books that feature multiple stories told from different perspectives, this recommendation from Connell will be easy to read in a night. The collection is split between two eras: before and after the passing of Roe v. Wade. As you page through, reading words of women, mothers, husbands, children, and their connection to illegal and legal abortions, you’ll be fascinated—and horrified—by the struggles suffered by so many individuals . For Connell, it’s a grim perspective, especially with so much tension and pressure on Roe v. Wade today. “This book shows how risky it was [to have an] illegal abortion and the stigma associated with them, legal or otherwise,” she explains. “For women who have only lived in a world where it is legal, it can make them think about what it was like when it wasn’t. How close are we coming to going back to these days?”

Featured image by Annie Spratt

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