Avoiding Quacks and Authorities: How Counterculture Student Papers Helped Develop the Language of the Pro-Abortion Rights Movement in Twentieth Century Texas

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Date of Award

Summer 2022


From 1969 to 1973, before abortion in the U.S. was made legal by the Supreme Court of the United States case ruling in Jane Roe v. Henry Wade (1973), various groups within the counterculture of Austin, Texas, provided access to the procedure and advocated for its legal status. The primary way in which these groups accomplished these goals was through the underground newspaper, the Rag, which among its other services, disseminated information about safe abortion practices, access, and discussed the subject in significant ways that helped build the language of the Pro-Choice Movement. Other scholars have explored how the Rag and the associated Birth Control Information Center (BCIC) in Austin helped women obtain access to abortion through referrals and other forms of assistance. The research herein both reexamines some of that information for addition contents and discussion of activist networks, but further looks beyond these more practical roles that these groups played and explores the language the Rag’s authors used to discuss abortion. Ultimately, the way that the Rag discussed abortion as a multi-faceted issue that at once protected, manipulated, and liberated the body speaks to the importance of these writings as these themes echo throughout the rhetoric of the pro-abortion rights groups and movements throughout the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This thesis analyzes the activists and their networks and this news outlet as a product of the era who also served roles in shaping the events and narratives.


Jessica Brannon-Wranosky

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | History