When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, feminists regarded it as a total victory: having unlimited access to legal abortion across the United States would, they assumed, finally give American women the reproductive choice they had been seeking. Sara Matthiesen begs to differ, contending that access to abortion alone does not give women full autonomy; they must also have the resources to make families, if that is their wish—resources that many, especially poor women, women of color, single mothers, and members of sexual minorities, may lack. Family making, according to Matthiesen, takes labor—not just the labor of childbirth but also the work entailed in providing care and financial security, and in all these areas, millions of American women are left more or less on their own, with little social or cultural, much less state, support and high barriers to reaching what might be available.

Surveying the period between...

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