Few American writers are better suited to author a book like Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights than Katha Pollitt. She’s a career feminist with a longstanding column at The Nation, so she’s a master of eloquently and concisely summarizing (and opining on) complicated issues. But she also has public debate on her resumé, which lends Pro its uniquely conversational tone. Pro is written to change the way we talk about abortion, and to investigate what we mean when we say we’re pro-choice or “pro-life.” Large swaths of the book are, in fact, directly addressed to opponents of abortion. Very few authors take this step in their manifestos, to their detriment; Pollitt not only acknowledges key points from anti-abortion activists, she writes from an anti-choice perspective in order to more clearly frame misunderstandings and inconsistencies between the two factions. It lends her point of view great credence, and her book as a whole more nuance, that she uses anti-choice rhetoric in order to make her pro-choice points.
One of Pollitt’s biggest problems with the way the United States discusses reproductive rights is that opposing sides are not talking to each other, and are not answering the same questions. For example, if both pro- and anti-choice voters want to keep the number of abortions per year as low as possible, why are neither pressed to expand pre-natal care, paid parental leave, and government assistance to parents? Neither side is thinking their arguments through to their natural conclusions, argues Pollitt, so she wrote a book to reach those conclusions, and then urges readers to consider whether their current stance, regardless of side, is logical or even feasible. Pollitt pulls no punches in her critiques of both points of view, which, again, is unusual for an author writing an expressly political book. Pro is well-researched and intuitively laid out, which makes it easy to follow, easy to cite, and easy to agree with. Pollitt is a leading voice in women’s rights, politics, and social issues of many ilk facing Americans, and intelligence and thoroughness on this scale were dearly lacking in much of abortion debate prior to this book. Read it to agree, read it to disagree, read it if you’ve always thought maybe there was more to this topic than met the eye. Just read it, and join the conversation.