About the Book

Women’s health was not always a political issue…

The surprising history every woman deserves to know.

Women’s health has long been seen as a divisive social issue. But behind inflammatory news headlines is an untold story that every woman has a right to know.

A Woman’s Right to Know is the factual and eye-opening story of how women’s health devolved from being a medical issue that was supported by religious groups, to a divisive political debate. Exposing a chain of historic events, author Carol Roye, PhD, reveals how only recently groups such as the Religious Right have organized against abortion rights, using it as a political tool.

Dr. Roye, an academic, longtime nurse practitioner and mother of six, also dispels many of the inaccurate, political arguments surrounding abortion and instead shines a light on the real concern at hand—public health.

Neither pro-life nor pro-choice, Dr. Roye explains why we must move beyond the tired political rhetoric, and points us toward a solution that will help all Americans find common ground in order to protect the lives of women and children.

In her latest book, she debunks the myths that drive the contentious debate that women’s health is a moral issue, and how our focus on abortion rights has blinded us to the unintended consequences of politicizing women’s health.

Dr. Roye uses facts from trusted sources to reveal the true moral imperative—women’s and children’s health. Her book details the unlikely alliances and religious coalitions that are already working together to protect women’s health, including access to contraception and abortion.

A Woman’s Right to Know is a stirring account of how women’s health became intertwined with such unlikely issues as tax policy and education reform. It is a must-read for anyone concerned with women’s rights, as well as those who want to be better informed about this critical public health issue.


Advanced Praise for

A Woman’s Right to Know

Carol Roye draws on public health and history to tell the story of abortion and contraception in America, a story which needs retelling for younger Americans inheriting the country’s battles over these topics. Through depiction of the changing stances and shifting moral interpretations of different churches and groups, she reveals that the harsh moment in which we find ourselves stuck is not inevitable, and that the contest is fundamentally a political one.

Wendy Chavkin MD, MPH
, Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health and Obstetrics-Gynecology; Heilbrunn Dept of Population and Family Health and Dept Obstetrics-Gynecology; Mailman School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons; Columbia University

Pitch perfect! Roye tells it all and tell is it extremely well. Grounded in her own experience as a nurse, hard data and her skills as a researcher this short easy-to-read book documents the horrific consequences of denying women the right to contraception, abortion and control over their own bodies. Roye moves beyond descriptions to reveal how women’s health was sacrificed to the interests of power, politics and professional interests. A Woman’s Right to Know is a must read for anyone interested in preventing maternal deaths and child abuse, reducing health care costs and otherwise ending the war on women’s reproductive rights.

Mimi Abramovitz, Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Policy, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

Drawing on her extensive clinical experience as a nurse and educator, Professor Carol Roye makes an impassioned case for the benefits of safe and accessible contraception and abortion to American women and their families. Drawing on the long and often tortured political history of this issue, she also reminds us that advancing reproductive health and rights is not just a moral obligation to protect women rights but also a fundamental tool to fight poverty and promote overall well-being.

Ellen Chesler author of Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America

How did we get to a place where even family planning is a controversial issue, despite the indisputable evidence showing that it saves and improves the quality of lives of women and children? A Woman’s Right to Know lays out this evidence and an explanation of why women’s rights to abortion and family planning are under siege. As a researcher and women’s health nurse practitioner, Dr. Roye has written a compelling story of the history of the politicization of reproductive rights for women in the U.S. that is filled with surprises and is a must-read for anyone who cares about the lives of women and children.

Diana Mason, President of the American Academy of Nursing

Did you know that early feminists opposed abortion? Or that doctors were more likely to perform the procedure on unmarried women? Can you remember when most of the abortion debates were between doctors, over matters of technique? This book is bound to deepen your understanding of the abortion wars and humanize an issue surrounded by partisan fury.

Corinna Barnard, Editor, Women’s eNews

Carol Roye has provided critical documentation and analysis of the history and current realities and barriers to reproductive health. Interweaving her own complex experience of compassionate care, compelling case illuminations of how forces outside of the lives and bodies of real girls and women constrain choice, and a comprehensive retelling of what was and what is at stake in reproductive justice, this book is a must read for all of us.

Deborah Tolman, EdD, Professor of Social Welfare and Psychology, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College

A Women’s Right to Know provides a comprehensive picture of the politics behind the increasing number of assaults on reproductive freedom. Roye’s book not only shines a light on the untold story of women’s health, but shows us a way forward on steps we can take to reclaim it.

Vicki Breitbart, EdD,LCSW, Director, Health Advocacy, Graduate Studies at Sarah Lawrence College, Professor, Perspectives on Reproductive Health at New York University