19-year-old Laura Brown started the Oakland Feminist Women’s Health Center in 1972. In the early days, Laura would answer the clinic’s phone using different voices so it sounded like there were multiple people working there. From its humble beginnings in a tiny Temescal house, this DIY project would eventually grow into an institution that would serve countless patients, help many people from poor and marginalized backgrounds become healthcare professionals, and make a historic impact on the trajectory of reproductive justice in this country.
Angela Hume uncovers the history of this clinic, which was later renamed West Coast Feminist Health Project / Women’s Choice, in the new book “Deep Care: The radical activists who provided abortions, defied the law, and fought to keep clinics open.” As the title suggests, this story covers topics that range from underground gynecological “self-help” groups to terrifying battles with swarms of anti-choice militants attempting to violently shut down abortion providers. Amidst an ongoing rollback of reproductive rights, where women are being jailed for accessing abortion pills once again, the lessons that dozens of activists share with Hume in this book are crucially relevant, sometimes heartbreaking, and occasionally even hilarious.
Listen now via Apple, SoundCloud, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts. [Title image credit: Feminist Women’s Health Centers “Self Help Clinics of the World” poster by Suzann Gage, c. 1976. From the personal collection of Annah Anti-Palindrome.]
This episode is supported by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. I highly recommend checking out their new podcast, “Revolutionary Care: An Oakland Story,” a series about the history of treating sickle cell anemia: www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/sickle-cell
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