Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement

225 pages

October, 2003

ISBN: 9780814758274



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Jennifer Nelson is Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Redlands (CA). 

All books by Jennifer Nelson

While most people believe that the movement to secure voluntary reproductive control for women centered solely on abortion rights, for many women abortion was not the only, or even primary, focus.

Jennifer Nelson tells the story of the feminist struggle for legal abortion and reproductive rights in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s through the particular contributions of women of color. She explores the relationship between second-wave feminists, who were concerned with a woman's right to choose, Black and Puerto Rican Nationalists, who were concerned that Black and Puerto Rican women have as many children as possible “for the revolution,” and women of color themselves, who negotiated between them. Contrary to popular belief, Nelson shows that women of color were able to successfully remake the mainstream women's liberation and abortion rights movements by appropriating select aspects of Black Nationalist politics—including addressing sterilization abuse, access to affordable childcare and healthcare, and ways to raise children out of poverty—for feminist discourse.


  • “A valuable contribution.”

    Feminist Collections

  • “A very fresh and strong contribution to emerging scholarship on the history of reproductive rights activism in the U.S.”

    —Loretta Ross, Executive Director of the National Center for Human Rights Education

  • “Nelson presents the tip of the iceberg of the history of the involvement of women of color, specifically, African-American women and Latinas in the movements for rights.”


  • “This book is an important contribution to the growing reexamination of the women's health movement. This is a useful book, an interesting book, a book that tells our history.”

    Politics, Social Movements, and The State