Interview: No More Compromise on Abortion, Featherstone, Jacobin

Interview by Liza Featherstone with Jenny Brown, Oct 18, 2019

Jenny Brown’s new book Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now, the latest in the Jacobin Seriespublished by Verso, draws on decadesof history and organizing experience to explain how we can win this fight over women’s reproductive labor.

Brown, also author of Birth Strike(PM Press, 2019), has organized with National Women’s Liberation, Gainesville Women’s Liberation and Redstockings. She spoke with Jacobin’s Liza Featherstone at New York’s Strand Bookstore on October 10. A Kickstarter to raise funds for the launch of Without Apology can be found here....

So, National Women’s Liberation has its roots in Redstockings, in those sixties radical movements, and we are trying to continue that tradition. We teach classes, we put out books, we put out information, but we’re also organizers. We’re hoping to create a study and action guide to go with this book.

It’s now easy to do a self-managed abortion, with pills. There are all kinds of regulations and restrictions around it. These are completely unnecessary. And why is it only doctors in most states who can provide abortions? This is a choke point that has been used against us — and Lucinda Cisler predicted that it would be. Some states have made it possible for other practitioners to provide abortions. They have just as good outcomes. It’s fine. So we need to make it so that anybody who’s a trained practitioner can provide an abortion. We need to not just try to keep these abortion bans from coming down the pike, but really expand our rights.

We also have done a lot of organizing around national health insurance. For example, the New York Health Act, which is basically statewide single payer. Everybody would be covered, and it includes abortion. Rather than this continual forty-year fight to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, which would still mean that you’d have to be on Medicaid to get your abortion funded — that leaves a whole lot of people out. What we really need is expanded, improved Medicare for all that coversabortion and birth control. We think that is the way to go. In fact, Redstockings pioneered this. In 1989 they changed their call for “free abortion on demand” to “free abortion on demand through a national health system.” We really need to win national health care....

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