Kathryn Kolbert & Julie F. Kay present "Controlling Women," with Farai Chideya

October 20, 2021, 7:30 PM

Julie F. Kay and Kathryn Kolbert join us to present their new book Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Protect Reproductive Freedom, in conversation with Farai Chideya. This program will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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The definitive account of the battle for reproductive freedom and a bold new strategy to safeguard our rights and health, from two legal activists at the forefront of the movement.

Reproductive freedom has never been in more dire straits. Roe v. Wade protected abortion rights and Planned Parenthood v. Casey unexpectedly preserved them. Yet in the following decades these rights have been gutted by restrictive state legislation, the appointment of hundreds of anti-abortion judges, and violence against abortion providers. Today, the ultra-conservative majority at the Supreme Court has activists, medical providers, and everyday Americans worried that we are about to lose our most fundamental reproductive protections.

When Roe is toppled, abortion may quickly become a criminal offense in nearly one-third of the United States. Today, 89% of U.S. counties do not have a single abortion provider, in part due to obstructive regulations and laws aimed at disrupting services. Everyone should be free to make the personal and private decisions that affect our lives and wellbeing without government interference or bias, but we can no longer depend on Roe and the federal courts to preserve our liberties.

In Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom legal titans Kathryn Kolbert and Julie F. Kay share the story of one of the most divisive issues in American politics through behind-the-scenes personal narratives of stunning losses, hard-earned victories, and moving accounts of women and health care providers over decades of legal battles. At this make-or-break moment for legal abortion, Kolbert and Kay propose audacious new strategies inspired by medical advances, state-level protections, human rights models, and activists around the globe whose courage and determination are making a difference. No more banging our heads against the Supreme Court’s marble walls, they urge. It’s time for a new direction.

Kathryn Kolbert has had a long and distinguished career advancing women’s rights. In 1992, she made her second appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the landmark case that has been widely credited with saving Roe v. Wade. A co-founder of the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Athena Film Festival, she also created NPR’s Justice Talking and the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College. 

Julie F. Kay began her legal career at the Center for Reproductive Rights and has spent the ensuing decades developing innovative legal and policy initiatives to advance gender equality and religious freedom in the U.S. and internationally. She helped lay the groundwork for the legalization of abortion in Ireland through the first direct challenge to the country's absolute ban before the European Court of Human Rights and has fought for legal reform to protect the parenting rights of people leaving ultra-religious communities.

Farai Chideya is the creator and host of Our Body Politic, a nationally syndicated public radio show, podcast and insights brand centering Black women and all women of color as we seek to build a better nation and world. She's the author of six books, the most recent of which is The Episodic Career: How to Thrive at Work in the Age of Disruption. Chideya has covered every Presidential election from 1996 on; worked for FivethirtyEight, NPR, CNN, ABC, and NPR; and appeared on numerous other networks. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, she graduated from Harvard University and lives in Brooklyn and Washington DC.