Ursula K. Le Guin's Blog

Ursula Reading Her Essay on Abortion, “What It Was Like”


“The last time I filmed with Ursula, in the winter of 2016, I was six months pregnant, she was nearly ninety, and we were both getting a little tired by the time the camera started rolling. In addition to a few passages from her novels and poems that ended up in the documentary, I asked her to read an essay called ‘What It Was Like’ (2012), about the abortion she had as an undergraduate at Radcliffe, at a time when the procedure was illegal and highly stigmatized. As our country is hit by a wave of systematic attacks on women’s sovereignty over their own bodies, her essay feels more essential than ever.”—Arwen Curry, Director, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

“What It Was Like” is available in the collection Words Are My Matter (2016). See also “The Princess” from her 1982 collection Dancing at the Edge of the World.

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