News & Reviews

Listen to D.A. Dirks and Pat Relf’s radio interview on “The 21st” with Niala Boodhoo on WILL FM, Illinois Public Media, from Thursday, June 22.


Listen to D.A. Dirks and Pat Relf’s radio interview on “A Public Affair” with Carousel Bayrd on WORT FM in Madison from Tuesday, June 6, 2017 (available until August 4).


Publishers Weekly starred review:

“Conservative Christianity has become synonymous with opposition to abortion, but before the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized it in the U.S., clergy organized to protect pregnant women and direct them to safe abortions. Dirks and Relf explore this extraordinary and little-known history through detailed first-person interviews and extensive research with Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish clergy who, between 1967 and 1973, created a pregnancy counseling service and national underground network to provide women with options for adoption, parenting assistance, and pregnancy termination. At the time, deaths from botched abortions, including self-induced ones, were estimated at 5,000 a year—though they were likely much higher—and were disproportionately among women of color, who had the least financial resources. These clergy pioneered the first “counselor-oriented clinics” and proved abortion could be a safe outpatient procedure. Dirks and Relf provide critically important social history that too many in today’s abortion wars have never known or chosen to forget. (May)


Cynthia Gorney, author of Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars:

“This compelling history explores one of the twentieth century’s most unusual religious endeavors–the collective defiance of American clergy who were willing to help direct women to illegal but safe abortions. No previous account of the Clergy Consultation Service has told their whole story so thoroughly and vividly.”