Abortion Pills Go Global: Reproductive Freedom Across Borders

Regular price $ 27.95

by Sydney Calkin

University of California Press

10/3/2023, paperback

SKU: 9780520391987


An unprecedented, up-close look into the global self-managed abortion movement.

Abortion pills have made safe medication abortion possible for millions of people around the world, even in the most restrictive circumstances. In this timely book, Sydney Calkin illustrates the profound, transformative promise of these pills--which are safe, effective, and responsible for a sharp decline in maternal mortality. Abortion Pills Go Global demonstrates that the widespread practice of self-managed medication abortion makes it more difficult for countries to enforce oppressive abortion laws and less willing to do so.

Taking a bold and unique geographic approach, this book follows these pills as they are manufactured and transported by feminist activists from India to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland, and the United States. Calkin shows that the growing availability of abortion pills in places with restrictive laws means more people have access to self-managed healthcare. Abortion Pills Go Global looks ahead to see how the broader politics of abortion could shift in response to this global movement--one that looks not to laws for protection but to on-the-ground feminist mobilizations across borders.


"[E]ye-opening . . . Calkin's meticulous analysis demonstrates how the technological development of these pills has led to substantial changes in the social politics of abortion around the world, due not just to their ease of use but their ease of transport. The result is an incisive look at the deeply intertwined relationship between international supply chains, local politics, underground activism, and women's rights."-- "Publishers Weekly"

"Sydney Calkin takes the question of women's access to abortion as a jumping-off point for a searing account of the mutual entanglement of the moral and political economies of abortion pills. She offers a compelling and fresh take on a debate that has long been dominated by questions of the precise legal status of abortion. By following the practical strategies of access-to-abortion activists, Calkin retrains our sights: away from a tight focus on abstract legal regimes and onto people doing things. Phone calls and post offices pepper her tale of emancipatory tactics of our current moment's most important feminist fight-back."--Sarah Hodges, Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, King's College London

"Abortion Pills Go Global is an enlightening examination of how medication abortion has become the go-to option around the world. As Calkin shows so well, abortion pills have become a key facet of reproductive justice."--Rickie Solinger, coauthor​ ​of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction

"Abortion has always been a part of the human story, but until recent decades, those who chose it often risked their lives in the effort to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Sydney Calkin's masterful accounting of the revolutionary impact of abortion medications is part history, part investigative reporting, and part forecasting. It is a must-read for anyone hoping to understand what is happening behind the scenes of the abortion war unfolding around the world today."--Michelle Oberman, author of Her Body, Our Laws: On the Front Lines of the Abortion War from El Salvador to Oklahoma

"I cannot think of a more timely and important book in the world right now. Calkin's Abortion Pills Go Global effectively situates medical abortion in wider reproductive justice and social decriminalization debates to tell us how abortion happens now and is changing the shape of the world we live in. It is not just a must-read for anyone interested in abortion, it is a must-read for anyone interested in geopolitics."--Sophie Harman, Professor of International Politics, Queen Mary University of London

About the Author:

Sydney Calkin is Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London and coeditor of After Repeal: Re-thinking Abortion Politics.