Shannon Stettner – Abortion: History, Politics, and Reproductive Justice after Morgentaler

Describe your book

Canada’s best-known abortion rights advocate died in 2013, prompting scholars and activists to recognize that it was an important time to consider the state of abortion and abortion scholarship in the country. Abortion: History, Politics, and Reproductive Justice after Morgentaler extends the existing dialogue on abortion politics and scholarship by highlighting new research and analytical frames that have emerged in abortion studies since the 1988 Morgentaler decision. Our collection includes a mix of historical, legal, political science, ethnographic, and sociological pieces that highlight new areas of research and analytical frameworks. This collection on Canadian abortion history and politics moves the study of abortion in new and important directions, complicating our understanding of abortion history and politics by suggesting it is not one history but many and contains multiple and diverse voices and experiences occurring simultaneously across the country. 

Why did you decide to publish it with a university press?

There’s a lot of valuable resources offered by academic presses. The editors and copy editors employed by the press and the peer reviewers contracted by the press add substantive value to the manuscript.

Do you enjoy the writing process?

Sometimes writing can be painful, depending on the nature of the project, but I enjoy it. More so, however, I love the editing process. I love shaping a piece of writing into its best version. 

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given to you?

As an undergraduate student, I used to pay careful attention to the comments from my professors and was fortunate to have professors who would edit papers extensively. I learned how to write better through their feedback. I think the learning process is ongoing. So, when I get feedback from peer reviewers, copy editors, or colleagues, I’m mindful of how their suggestions can also make me a better writer. I believe that working with co-authors and co-editors has the same impact. Hopefully each person brings a writing strength from which you can learn.

What piece of advice might you give to young academics looking to follow in your footsteps?

I look at producing an edited collection like Abortion: History, Politics, and Reproductive Justice after Morgentaler as service to the profession because of the time and energy devoted to the project. I was aware of the excellent scholarship being done in the field and wanted to ensure that it reached a broad audience. I also felt like it was an important moment to assess the state of the field. If someone is planning to undertake an edited collection, you have to know that it is incredibly time consuming and thinking about it as service to your field of study will help sustain you through the process. 

Who inspires you?

There is an incredibly long list of scholars who have and continue to inspire me. Right now, I am especially inspired by those scholars who, like myself, are contract faculty members and produce new research that is self-funded and done during their free time. While it certainly should not be the conditions under which we work, that so many of us continue to make invaluable contributions against tremendous odds is quite notable. That said, funding agencies need to better account for the fact that contract faculty now make up the majority of faculty (in many places) and adjust their funding programs to better support research projects of those without permanent positions or a lot of excellent research will be lost.  

Shannon Stettner teaches in the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Waterloo and editor of Abortion: History, Politics, and Reproductive Justice after Morgentaler with Kristin Burnett, associate professor in the Department of Indigenous Learning and coordinator of the new graduate program in Social Justice Studies at Lakehead University and Travis Hay, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at York University.