Her Body, Our Laws

On the front lines of the abortion wars,
From El Salvador to Oklahoma

Drawing on her years of research in El Salvador—one of the few countries to ban abortion without exception—legal scholar Michelle Oberman explores what happens when abortion is a crime. Equipped with this understanding, Oberman turns her attention to the U.S., where the battle over abortion is fought almost exclusively in legislatures and courtrooms. She begins her analysis in Oklahoma, one of the most pro-life states. Through a series of interviews with current and former legislators and activists in Oklahoma, Oberman shows how Americans voice their moral opposition to abortion by supporting laws that would restrict it. In this America, the law is more a symbol than a plan. 



Praise for Her Body, Our Laws

This is a splendid and important book. Michelle Oberman brings a legal scholar’s attention to analysis of the abortion wars, along with a powerful gift for telling the stories of those intimately involved. In so doing, she illuminates not only what is at stake in our debates about abortion law but also what is missing from them.

Debra Satz, Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University

Oberman lays bare the messy and paradoxical realities of abortion that churn beneath reductive debate over its legality. Stories gathered across borders and decades depict lofty ideals of morality and choice trampled by concrete oppressive conditions far more compelling than the letter of the law. As she astutely observes, abortion's legal status matters little to those robbed by structural inequalities of dignity and volition in their reproductive experiences.

Jill E. Adams, founding Executive Director, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

Oberman shows us that that in the midst of war, there is always space for listening. In her global journey through abortion laws and ideology, she always brings us back to what really matters: sharing stories that help us recognize our common humanity. In our time of increasing polarization and politicization, Her Body, Our Laws demands a new path forward on abortion, one rooted in the difficult conversations we need to help us connect across our differences.

Aspen Baker, Executive Director of Exhale, Author of Pro-Voice: How to Keep Listening When the World Wants a Fight

Drawing on her fascinating journeys into the abortion-hostile territories of El Salvador and Oklahoma, Michelle Oberman gives a penetrating analysis of both the power and limitations of laws governing abortion. This  beautifully written and  thought-provoking book offers the reader a novel way to consider the endless abortion conflict in the United States and elsewhere.

Carole Joffe, Author of Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us, and professor, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco

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