The November Gang and Innovations in Abortion Care
The “November Gang” is an important, but little known, grouping within the world of abortion provision. This group, which met for the first time in November 1989, and continues to meet to this day, was initially summoned by Charlotte Taft, then the director of a clinic in Texas, and Sandra Bagley, the director of a clinic in Utah. Taft and Bagley were deeply concerned by the changing climate of abortion provision in the late 1980s—the growing strength of the anti-abortion movement, the changing character of the issues presented by abortion patients, and the significance of the Supreme Court Webster decision in July 1989, that opened the door to considerably more restrictions on abortion care. Out of this initial and subsequent November Gang meetings came important developments in abortion care, particularly as practiced in independent (i.e. non-Planned Parenthood) clinics, including a new approach to abortion counseling, known as “head and heart” counseling.
Dr. Carole Joffe is involved in preparing, with Margaret (Peg) Johnston, an abortion provider in Binghamton, NY, a historical project on the “November Gang”. Their historical work, which involves collecting pertinent documents, and writing an essay on the significance of this group, in the context of the evolution of abortion care in the United States—will be published on the website of the award winning “Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000,” a database/journal edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin of the State University of New York at Binghamton, with an editorial board of leading scholars from around the country.