While the Hypatia collection has a wide range of material related to health, it also includes many sources which specifically deal with the issue of abortion and reproductive rights, mostly from the ‘second-wave’ of feminism.

Many of these sources can be found in the ‘health’ section of the collection. The nature of this material includes pamphlets produced by the National Abortion Campaign in the UK and the Birth Control Trust, as well as information booklets about the National Health Service’s policies on abortion, and transcripts of different women talking about their personal experiences of pregnancy and abortion. Some are based more on facts and statistical analysis of the demographic of women that were seeking and getting abortions, while others focus more on the opinions and experiences of women who had chosen to have an abortion. The majority of these sources were produced during the 1970s and 1980s, at the time of many feminist campaigns not only for access to abortions, but also for wider reproductive rights such as free and safe contraception, and an end to forced sterilisation.

Given that abortion and reproductive rights were central to ‘second-wave’ feminism, the Hypatia collection also includes a breadth of contemporary literature in the ‘politics’ section that provide an overview of the movement, and as a result contain chapters dealing with the topic specifically. Some talk mainly about the mainstream white-middle class feminist activism at the time, however the collection also includes studies which directly address how campaigns for issues such as abortion and reproductive rights affected black and working-class women.

These different types of sources that the Hypatia collection offers allow us to get an insight into how abortion and reproductive rights were approached by women, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s.


Kezia Pugh