Review Roundup: One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories

“A beautiful collection…bold, brave, unapologetic…” – Abortion Gang

The closing of the Morgentaler clinic in New Brunswick, coupled with the undue burden many women still face accessing abortions makes it especially important for women to share their personal experiences. With One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories, editors Kathryn Palmateer and Martha Solomon help shift the dialogue around reproductive rights from the sphere of politics to women’s health and safety in their reproductive lives.
We were very lucky to have Kerry Clare of The 49th Shelf and editor of a new anthology on motherhood, The M Word, write the very first review for One Kind Word. Clare places the importance of this collection in it’s pursuit of conversations between women:

“…It creates a space where women who’ve had abortions can see themselves reflected, and the book provides an occasion for women to speak up and say, “This is my story too.”

Speaking with The Chronicle Herald about One Kind Word, Solomon and Palmateer stated, “We wanted to include these stories in any conversation or debate, whether it’s casual or in the House of Parliament…We want to make it about women and women’s lives.”

Deb Singh’s review for Shameless Magazine brings out the key threads of One Kind Word, including the topic of access:

One Kind Word is a remarkable collection of women’s experiences around accessing abortion in Canada and how we got there; both by our own personal circumstances and by the law/medical community allowing us to have self-determination over our reproductive rights as women.”

Abortion Gang’s review delves into why the focus on abortion in Canada is so important in the present day, aiding in on-going efforts to end the stigma and shame that continues to be associated with this healthcare choice:

“…Healthcare is provincially mandated, so services are determined more by the political bent of the provincial government than by the lack of federal law. Added to the economic disparity of the provinces are additional barriers that limit access: regional disparity in services, long wait times, long travel times, and systemic inequality and indifference to issues of reproductive health. Canadians are subject to the same stigma and alienation around abortion as are Americans and others around the world; the work of making abortion accessible – and contextualizing it as healthcare – is still important here.”

The diversity of women represented in these testimonies speaks to the reach of reproductive rights—1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime. These women come from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages. Rabble’s piece on One Kind Word touches on the unique format of the collection and how it reflects all women:

“Regardless of their personal reactions to abortion—from grieving to ambivalence to empowerment—the women have a shared experience of facing barriers to choice and feeling the need to speak out. The format of written stories (30 in English, one in Spanish and one in French) combined with photos makes an instant human connection to the women and the importance of reproductive choice.”

Abortion Gang also highlighted the artistic approach Palmateer and Solomon decided on when starting the arts4choice project:

“Palmateer’s photography is gorgeous, challenging…and what sets it apart from other compilations of this nature. I believe this project would be a compelling visual art exhibit as well, which would perhaps make it accessible to a different demographic. In the right context, abortion story-telling can be a powerful tool for activism. This book provides a space for that in a beautiful and stylish way that I greatly appreciated – and will be a great conversation starter on your coffee table!”

One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories is available now.


Highlights from Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution

In the aftermath of the historic conference, Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution, in Charlottetown, P.E.I., organizers have shared a video recap of Rickie Solinger’s keynote address What Makes ‘Reproductive Justice’ Different From ‘Reproductive Rights’? Solinger is a historian and author of several books on reproductive justice in the U.S. In her keynote address, she reflects on how women of colour were denied reproductive rights because of American population control and anti-integration policies.

Stay tuned for more from the conference.