Counter Culture
October 9, 2017 posted by Unity Wellington

AFTERGLOW: Risking Their Lives: NZ Abortion Stories 1900-1939 by Margaret Sparrow

AFTERGLOW: Risking Their Lives: NZ Abortion Stories 1900-1939 by Margaret Sparrow

On Thursday 28th September, the day marking International Safe Abortion Day, Unity Books hosted the launch of Risking Their Lives: NZ Abortion Stories 1900-1939 by Margaret Sparrow. The book is a timely reminder of the dire decisions made by women that could have not only legal but often life-risking consequences.

Margaret was met by a passionate and hopeful crowd as Terry Bellamak, National President of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand, introduced and officially launched the book. Terry spoke of how Margaret has influenced and inspired a new generation of activists for abortion and reproductive rights. She also spoke about the need for law reform, and removing abortion from the Crimes Act.

Margaret took to the stage again and re-emphasised the importance of law reform and her inspiration for writing the book. Margaret attended a meeting with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2015 where they established the Doris Gordon Memorial Trust. Dr Gordon was a celebrated obstetrician and a staunch anti-abortion activist. The trust enabled lecturers to access funds for an annual Doris Gordon Memorial Lecture. She concluded by telling the story of Eva, interrogated by a magistrate and two police officers, whilst dying in a hospital bed of septicemia, stressing the importance of access to safe abortion.

While the stories in the book are tough an enjoyable night was had by all. After the speeches, Margaret signed books before mingling with the crowd and sharing experiences related to her work.

Terry Bellamak introduces Margaret.

Margaret reads a passage from her book.

Having a chat and a laugh.

‘Risking Their Lives: Nz Abortion Stories 1900-1939’ is available in store and online at




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