Book Review: Choice Words: A collection of writing about abortion | Edited by Louise Swinn

‘Choice Words,’ edited by Louise Swinn, is a collection of writing about abortion, told from the hearts of actors, politicians, musicians, activists and writers. Alongside heart-wrenching personal tales and anecdotes from contributors, such as Tanya Plibersek, Claudia Karvan, Tony Birch, Laura Jean and Melissa Lucashenko, the stories also delve into the history and controversy surrounding abortion, as well as the complex issues of legalisation that to this day, exist in many states around Australia.

Among some of the graphic and emotionally raw pieces from contributors (namely Melissa Lucashenko, Laura Jean, Rosie Waterland and Sarah Firth), elements of humour, bittersweet memories and beauty shine throughout their tales. Yet at the same time, fragility and anger also have their place in the personal stories and experiences that they share. The politically-themed and activist contributions, for example those of Caroline de Costa, Shirley Barrett and Samantha Maiden,  are downright informative and raise the issue of health care and human rights, two basic ethical principles we should be exercising in Australia, yet in regards to abortion, are not.

In an interview with Editor Louise Swinn, she expressed hope that ‘Choice Words’ brings about dinner table conversations and removes the controversy associated with the word ‘abortion’.

‘I hope men read it and consider what their female counterparts have to go through. I hope women read it and realise they are not alone and that work is underway to make it better and more progressive,’ she said.

‘I also hope that policy makers read it and consider making it front and centre of their policy thinking, as this book is representative of where the majority of the Australian populace is at.’

These are stories that need to be shared and talked about, these are facts, legislation and figures that need to be addressed in parliament. Let’s hope that this is a book that will be more than a memoir, this is a book that will, without a doubt, bring about change.


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