Author: Edited by Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and OK Fox
Publisher: Hazel Newlevant
Where to buy: http://comicsforchoice.com/
guest review by Rebecca Starr, Health and Literacy Librarian at Portland Public Library in Portland, Maine.
Comics for Choice is a robust anthology of comics about abortion; it’s also a history lesson, a medical lecture, a storytelling event, and a window into a possible future for reproductive health in the United States.
The anthology, edited by Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and OK Fox, is a colorful tapestry. Each personal story about abortion care is threaded together by facts and perspectives from other storytellers, including historians, doctors, activists, abortion doulas, and clinic escorts. Readers can expect to learn the history of abortion-related legislation, advocacy, and terrorism in the United States. Graphic medicine devotees will also appreciate the comics explaining reproductive health specifics, including birth control options, self-managed abortion, and post-abortion care.
Taken as tome, Comics for Choice unapologetically supports a person’s right to accurate and nonjudgmental information about all reproductive health options. However, each story displays starkly different perspectives of abortion and abortion care. The anthology normalizes the diverse range of emotions patients may feel before and after their procedure; characters feel everything along the emotional spectrum of elation to exhaustion. Some authors posit what life may had been like if they had elected not to have an abortion. Many comics also share how health care providers and abortion advocates can improve abortion experiences and make reproductive healthcare accessible to all. It’s this honesty and well-roundedness that makes Comics for Choice a valuable resource about the many co-working facets of reproductive rights.
The anthology includes 42 comics, all standouts in different ways. A few favorites showcasing the scope and depth of the collection are:
- “They Called her Dr. D.” tells the story of Dorothy Brown, the surgeon and abortion provider who became the first black woman legislator in Tennessee. (Story by Dr. Cynthia Greenlee, art by Jaz Malone)
- “Jane” shows the history of Jane, a collective of women who performed abortion in pre-Roe Chicago. (Story by Rachel Wilson, art by Ally Shwed)
- “Body & Soul, Science & Religion” examines embryonic and fetal development and contrasts it with the many posited ideas about when a “soul” enters a body. (By Kriota Willberg)
- “Born and Forgotten” follows a mother of two through the mandatory counseling session, ultrasound, and waiting period before her procedure. (Story by Katie Brown and Andrew Carl, art by Ahmara Smith)
- “They Can’t Get that From Us” illustrates how the segregation of abortion care into dedicated clinics has contributed to its stigma. (By Steph Kraft Shelley)
- “October” describes the experience of choosing to have an abortion while also questioning your gender identity. (By Kris Louis)
- “Choices” follows the current executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds as she discusses her decision to seek an abortion, even as she yearns for motherhood. (Story by Yamani Hernandez, art by Sharon Rimann)
- “Underwater” is a speculative fiction piece in which sea anemones in partial human form contemplate motherhood and abortion. (By CB Hart)
The pieces in Comics for Choice show graphic medicine at its best: they mold multifaceted concepts into informative, easily-digested, and visually-appealing stories. Informative, enlightening, and with a robust bibliography, Comics for Choice is a beautiful and thorough education about modern reproductive health and abortion care.