Unreproductive: Zines on Herbal Abortion and Menstrual Extraction

Here are some zines that discuss or even detail ways to end a pregnancy. Please be careful with how you carry out instructions found in a zine, or really any information resource. Neither I nor anyone from the zine librarians group is taking responsibility for the content found in the zines. Zines do not go through a peer review process and most zine makers do not have significant medical training. That doesn’t mean they don’t have valid knowledge about their own bodies and yours, but, just, don’t be reckless.

So here is a selective, annotated list, alphabetically by title:

  1. Doris #23 by Cindy Crabb, published in 2006.
    An explanation of menstrual extraction is just one part of this issue Cindy Crabb’s rightfully celebrated personal zine. In addition to ME, you’ll also read about Cindy’s grandma, outdoor adventures and the lasting effects of childhood sexual abuse. The zine is illustrated with stick figure comics and drawings in Cindy’s inimitable style. Cindy and Doris are hard not to love.
    Held at: Bako Zine Library, Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Bingham Center/Duke University, Carnegie Library of PittsburghDenver Zine Library, Multnomah County Library, Nadine Vorhoff Library/Tulane UniversityPierce County Library System, Timberland Regional Library. You can also buy it from Cindy and from a bunch of distros (which you can look up on your own).

  2. Fertility Awareness for Non-Invasive Birth Control, by the Arthouse Coalition, Portland OR
    I’m a sucker for a DIY zine that includes a bibliography and glossary, which this one does. As the title suggests, this zine is more about knowing your body and preventing pregnancy than it is about abortion, but it does contain information about herbal emmenagogues. And if you want to know a lot about cervical fluid, this is the zine for you!
    Held at: Bingham Center/Duke UniversityFirefly Zine collection/University of MiamiInternet Archive (options for viewing and download), Papercut Zine Library, Schlesinger Library/HarvardZineLibrary.info (pdf)

  3. Free to Choose: a Women’s Guide to Reproductive Freedom, by Esther Eberhardt. (Note the Eberhardt Press catalog title leave’s out the word “Women’s,” hence some irregularity in library catalogs.
    In addition to being pretty this pamphletty zine provides history and context (stories from the “bad old days,” The Abortion Handbook, Jane), as well as information about menstrual extraction tools and procedures. It includes a short list of bibliographical references and is anti-copyright.
    Held at: AnarchaLibrary (link to pdf), Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Bingham Center/Duke University, Birds Nest Zine LibraryBrooklyn College,  Carnegie Library of PittsburghCleveland Health Science Library, Eberhardt Press (pdf), Evergreen State College Womyn’s Resource CenterHampshire CollegeMount Royal UniversitySchlesinger Libary/Harvard, Timberland Regional LibraryUniversity of Oregon, Vancouver Public Library

  4. Hot Pantz: Do It Yourself Gynecology, by Isabelle Gauthier and Lisa Vinebaum, 1995
    This is a classic women’s repro health DIY guide, originally published in French. Includes emmenagogues and advice for what to do to prevent pregnancy after a risky sexual encounter.
    Held at: Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Bingham Center/Duke UniversityBitchMedia Community Lending Library, Bowling Green State University, Carnegie Library of PittsburghCleveland Health Science Library, Duke University/Bingham Center, Multnomah County Library, Firefly Zine Collection/University of MiamiNo Borders Radical Lending Library (link to pdf that isn’t working for me), Roberts Street Social Centre, Timberland Regional LibraryUniversity of Oregon

  5. Mine: an Anthology of Women’s Choices, edited by Meredith Stern, 2002.
    You won’t necessarily get the recipe for an herbal abortion or instructions for performing menstrual extraction. What this compilation zine will provide is other women’s stories about medical and surgical abortions, herbal abortifacients, menstrual extractions and the women’s thought processes behind their decisions.
    Held at: Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Bingham Center/Duke University, Labadie Collection/University of MichiganSchlesinger Library/Harvard University, Wisconsin Historical Society

  6. Radical Menstruation, 2004.
    Here’s the Barnard zine abstract: This political zine gives alternative ways to view and deal with menstruation, focusing on herbal and DIY remedies. It also critiques of the “culture of shame and ignorance” surrounding menstruation, provides a bibliography, and provides instructions on how to make a cloth pad or perform a menstrual extraction.
    Held at: Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Bowling Green State University

  7. Red Alert #3, by the Blood Sisters collective, early 2000s?
    Contains an emmenagogue recipe.
    Held at: Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Bingham Center/Duke University, OPIRG Infoshop

  8. She’s So Very, by Melissa Ann, 2008?
    Mostly a personal zine, about a lot of topics, this zine also includes an emmenagogue recipe–and interviews with Le Tigre band members about feminism, if you’re into that sort of thing.
    Held at Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Brooklyn College

  9. What Is This Thing Called M.E.? 2006 or later?
    Personal, DIY, cut and paste goodness–how have I never heard of this zine before?
    Held at: Papercut Zine Library (spreadsheet of holdings), pdf from unidentified source (RAM sucking download that might freeze your browser for a while)

  10. Wive’s Tales by Britton, 1993
    Here’s the Barnard abstract to another classic zine that still shows up at books fairs, zine fests and in distros, 20 years after it was published): This political DIY zine gives alternatives routes to female reproductive health. Included are guides to self-examination and forms of birth control, emmenagogues, and childbirth, as well as descriptions of diseases and tips for radical menstruation. There are illustrations and a bibliography.
    Held at: Barnard Zine Library/Columbia University, Bingham Center/Duke University, DePaul University (Kim Nolan collection), Forgotten Zine ArchiveInternet Archive (options for viewing and download), Smith CollegeTamiment Library/NYU, University of Iowa

Note, re: library holdings. I searched WorldCat and did an internet search. I have surely missed other libraries, whose catalogs are not online or whose holdings are not otherwise represented on the open web or for whatever reason don’t show up very high on a results list. Librarians should feel encouraged to add their holdings in this post or in the comments for me to integrate as I am able.

3 Responses to 'Unreproductive: Zines on Herbal Abortion and Menstrual Extraction'

  1. Kelsey Smith says:

    Nice list, Jenna! Thanks so much for putting it together. FYI, the Timberland Regional Library system (mostly the Olympia branch) has holdings for titles 1, 3, and 4, as well as Mine #2: an Anthology of Reproductive Rights. In the realm of birth control, Vasectomy Party by Benji Rouse is short and sweet, as is Alex Wrekk’s Brainscan 22: a Practical Body Modification, about her experience with getting an IUD. A couple others from Timberland’s collection:
    Carotte Sauvage: Wild Carrot Seeds as Herbal Birth Control by Sophie Belacqua
    Pasquin de ginecologia natural (no author)

  2. jenna says:

    Thanks, Kelsey! I’m going to add TRL to the zines you have holdings for.

    We decided at ZLuC to keep our lists to about ten zines, so I’ll leave your suggested additions here in the comments, if you don’t mind.

    Mwah!

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