126 episodes

In the early 1970s, the future of abortion in America was far from settled. Roe v. Wade would change everything, though few knew it at the time. For the seventh season of Slate’s Slow Burn, host Susan Matthews explores the path to Roe—a time when more Republicans than Democrats supported abortion rights. You’ll hear the forgotten story of the first woman ever to be convicted of manslaughter for having an abortion, the unlikely Catholic power couple who helped ignite the pro-life movement, and a rookie Supreme Court justice who got assigned the opinion of a lifetime.

Slow Burn Slate Podcasts

    • History
    • 4.7 • 1.3K Ratings

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In the early 1970s, the future of abortion in America was far from settled. Roe v. Wade would change everything, though few knew it at the time. For the seventh season of Slate’s Slow Burn, host Susan Matthews explores the path to Roe—a time when more Republicans than Democrats supported abortion rights. You’ll hear the forgotten story of the first woman ever to be convicted of manslaughter for having an abortion, the unlikely Catholic power couple who helped ignite the pro-life movement, and a rookie Supreme Court justice who got assigned the opinion of a lifetime.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Get Married or Go Home

    Get Married or Go Home

    In 1970, 22-year-old Shirley Wheeler got an illegal abortion in Florida. When she refused to tell the police who performed the procedure, she was arrested and charged with manslaughter. In the months that followed, she’d be prosecuted and publicly condemned. She’d also become the unlikely face of the fight for reproductive rights.
    Season 7 of Slow Burn is produced by Susan Matthews, Samira Tazari, Sophie Summergrad, and Sol Werthan.
    Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts.
    Editorial direction by Josh Levin, Derek John and Johanna Zorn. Mixing by Merritt Jacob and Kevin Bendis.
    Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Derreck Johnson based on a photo provided by Robert Wheeler.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 56 min
    Plus: The 1960s TV Drama That Dared to Defend the Right to Abortion

    Plus: The 1960s TV Drama That Dared to Defend the Right to Abortion

    In this member-exclusive episode, Slow Burn’s host Susan Matthews and producer Samira Tazari discuss what to expect this season, and what it was like to interview people in Shirley Wheeler’s life for Episode 1. Then, Matthews interviews TV historian Stephen Bowie about the TV drama The Defenders, which aired a surprisingly progressive take on abortion rights in 1962 that scared off the show’s regular advertisers and some network stations.

    Production by Chau Tu.

    Life or Death

    Life or Death

    Jack and Barbara Willke got their start on the Catholic speaking circuit talking about the pleasure of sex within marriage. Their daughter would convince them to shift their focus to another hot-button issue. The Willkes’ Handbook on Abortion, and the photographs they distributed along with it, would help kickstart the right-to-life movement.
    To see the cover of the Handbook on Abortion, some of the photos the Willkes used, and the brochure “Life or Death,” go to slate.com/handbook
    Season 7 of Slow Burn is produced by Susan Matthews, Samira Tazari, Sophie Summergrad, and Sol Werthan.
    Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts.
    Editorial direction by Josh Levin, Derek John and Johanna Zorn. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Derreck Johnson based on a photo provided by Robert Wheeler.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 55 min
    Plus: How the Anti-Abortion Movement Gained Tremendous Political Power

    Plus: How the Anti-Abortion Movement Gained Tremendous Political Power

    In this member-exclusive episode, Slow Burn’s host Susan Matthews and associate producer Sophie Summergrad discuss researching the pro-life movement for Episode 2. Then, Matthews interviews Jennifer L. Holland, an assistant professor of U.S. history at the University of Oklahoma, about what happened with the anti-abortion movement since Roe v. Wade was decided, and how it became so intense and, at times, violent.

    Production by Cleo Levin and Chau Tu.

    Women vs. Connecticut

    Women vs. Connecticut

    Soon after Ann Hill arrived at Yale Law School in 1968, she realized she was pregnant. Her options were limited: she could give birth—or get an illegal abortion. The decision she faced inspired her to take on Connecticut’s abortion ban. The legal battle that followed would set the stage for Roe v. Wade.
    Season 7 of Slow Burn is produced by Susan Matthews, Samira Tazari, Sophie Summergrad, and Sol Werthan.
    Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts.
    Editorial direction by Josh Levin, Derek John, and Johanna Zorn. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director.
    Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Derreck Johnson based on a photo provided by Robert Wheeler.
    The season’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 53 min
    Plus: How Abortion Access in Your State Will Change Immediately If Roe Is Overturned

    Plus: How Abortion Access in Your State Will Change Immediately If Roe Is Overturned

    In this member-exclusive episode, Slow Burn’s Susan Matthews and Sol Werthan discuss the making of Episode 3. Then, Matthews interviews Slate senior writers Christina Cauterucci and Mark Joseph Stern about how abortion rights are already changing state by state, and what can be done if Roe v. Wade is overturned this year.

    Further reading:
    Before Roe v. Wade by Linda Greenhouse and Reva Siegel
    “The Most Unexpected Consequence of the Texas Abortion Ban” by Christina Cauterucci, April 24
    “The Most Radical, Ominous Aspect of Alito’s Draft Opinion Overruling Roe” by Mark Joseph Stern, May 3


    Production by Cleo Levin and Chau Tu.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1.3K Ratings

1.3K Ratings

Ruth Sherlock ,

Great to have this!

Such an important topic and this is so informative and interesting. Lovely mix of two ways and sound rich reporting. And educational.

Momo444 ,

Great podcast with 1 major drawback

Great podcast, hosting, production, music, pacing of the story etc. Very well made. Major drawback is the quantity and frequency of ad breaks. Ruins the flow.

Disappointed Slow Burn fan ,

David Duke Series lightweight journalism

David duke is not an interesting or consequential enough subject for a slow, pondering series of investigative journalism. Neither does the story contain any genuinely interesting twists and turns, or mysteries. It starts with how undeniably repugnant Duke is, and ends with it, with the story or character assessment not having moved on at all. This makes for a flat, unexciting listener journey. The biggest, gaping fail, is the college student-esque refusal midway through the series not to interview the man. If you deem the subject sufficiently interesting to make the series about it, I simply can’t fathom how you would then declare your refusal to interview him. There are many arguments against this approach, but especially given that the audience of this podcast is by its nature interested in the nuance of political testimony, and is capable of discerning their own views on a controversial subject, no matter how ‘offensive’. Duke is totally accessible online, so why put your fingers in your ears and try and block out what he has to say - if it’s an issue, then don’t give him the spotlight and make the podcast in the first place. Ultimately this just makes the whole process lightweight - what a waste.

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