Series Review: Abortion: The Body Politic
This one is a little longer friends...sorry. - Keelin
When Roe v Wade was overturned, I was in a dark hotel room trying to figure out if I had a fever or not. I had seen it, and then messages started in my group chats. Honestly, I didn’t have much hope that they wouldn’t overturn the ruling. It was devastating to read the leaked draft - that night is seared more into my memory than the fall of Roe.
I’ve been searching for podcasts to review that could highlight education and actionable things. Like me, there are people in places that are “safe” who make posts about going “camping” which really is well intended but…not safe. Honestly, I had some trouble finding the “right podcast”. I wanted one that could encompass the historical context of abortion, the scientific reality of the procedure, and the current contexts. It’s a tall order- but I really believe that there’s a podcast out there for everything you may want.
Cut to a few weeks later. I’m waking up at six am in a hotel room in Dublin because of jet lag. I impulsively check my email. Somehow, there are two emails about Next Question with Katie Couric…an email from…Katie Couric (or one of her assistants…probably). I handed my phone to The Other and said “I can’t”. So I didn’t. I enjoyed my friend’s wedding in a castle and came back home. After getting settled back into my routines, I took a few days and finally listened to the six-part series.
Friends, I didn’t find the podcast I wanted to listen to. It was put into my lap. If I’m being honest, Katie Couric is more of a voice that colored evenings eating dinner at my grandparent’s house. So much so that I really craved buttered egg noodles and kielbasa when listening to this podcast. I knew but didn’t know.
Next Question’s series, Abortion: The Body Politic surprised me. I’m not saying I walked in with an expectation. I mostly walked in with the hope that someone with such a weighted name would be able to get this right. Abortion is such a divisive and emotional issue that tackling the question is something people don’t even want to do. Katie Couric and her team did and honestly, reader. It has essentially the full package.
Across six forty-five or so minute episodes we get the comprehensive story of abortion in the United States and in some ways across the world. We have what’s happening now, what happened when the leak was published, what abortion access used to be like, and to boot we have a podcast that centers voices that aren’t always centered in this debate. This is a comprehensive podcast and approachable for everyone who wants to learn more about what is happening.
I want to mention producer Lauren Hansen. I believe episode two features her voice heavily, but I really cannot stress how important having a stellar producer for a podcast like this is. Katie Couric might be the executive producer, her voice and name permeate every episode of this podcast; but I would say there is a spirit here that should be attributed to Lauren Hansen. This is not just a spectacularly produced podcast in tone and quality - but each episode flows with grace and an especially committed passion. Katie Couric mentions at the end of the episode how important Lauren was to this project, and I think that shines through. This is a podcast where I can tell everyone who worked on it cared deeply.
This project checks the boxes I was looking for and more. Abortion is a topic that encompasses so many aspects of life. The full picture is often incomplete for a single individual trying to wrap their head around the issue. I love how this series takes steps to address each and every side of this question in a very approachable way. It even considers international stories, like the fight for reproductive justice in Latin America and in Europe. You’re listening to a dedicated and high-quality news special that we would never see on cable tv.
Each episode centers on a different topic and can be listened to alone or along with the rest of the series. The length of each episode is just long enough to make you want to listen to the next in the series, but you can still step away if you need to. Each interview and transition begets the skill of a seasoned reporter, and combines really beautifully with the kind personal touch that podcasting is so good at. I would like to see a podcast with this content on primetime television, but I think the way it hits home sitting in your ears is a credit to the medium and, again, the team that put this together.
I admit I have so many podcasts to listen to that I have been unable to listen to the hour and forty-four-minute bonus episode, but I have confidence that this will dive even deeper into the more current atmosphere we are experiencing. Another awesome thing that this podcast has done is that in the description of each singular episode are links to a variety of resources to learn more, further, or to help.
If you are unsure of your stance on abortion or think you have an incomplete picture of the question this country faces right now this is definitely the podcast for you. If you want rays of hope through this all, this is the podcast for you. It’s not easy to listen to emotionally, but it’s worth it. I walked away feeling more confident in my understanding of this issue and I hope others will too.
Thank you to Lauren Hansen and Katie Couric (or Katie Couric’s assistant who knows) for dropping this podcast in my lap. The only thing I regret is not listening to it sooner. If you are curious about other abortion stories, check out my review on an episode of The Story From The Guardian: Ireland’s Shame: The Death of Sativa Halappanaver (podcast review Link Here).
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