Upcoming Event

Shefali Luthra at Harvard Book Store


Undue Burden:
Life and Death Decisions
in a Post-Roe America

in conversation with DEBORAH BECKER


May 21, 2024
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes SHEFALI LUTHRA—award-winning national health policy reporter for The 19th—for a discussion of her new book Undue Burden: Life and Death Decisions in a Post-Roe America. She will be joined in conversation by DEBORAH BECKER—senior correspondent and host at WBUR.

About Undue Burden

On June 24, 2022, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the impact was immediate: by 2023, abortion was virtually unavailable or significantly restricted in 21 states. As other nations largely expand legal abortion access, the U.S. has gone backwards; the bans being enforced in many states are some of the most severe in the entire world.

In Undue Burden, reporter Shefali Luthra traces the unforgettable stories of patients faced with one of the most personal decisions of their lives. Outside of Houston, there’s a 16-year-old girl who becomes pregnant well before she intends to. A 21-year-old mother barely making ends meet has to travel hundreds of miles in secret to access care in another state. A 42-year-old woman with a life-threatening condition wants nothing more than to safely carry her pregnancy to term, but her home state’s abortion bans fail to provide her with the options she needs to make an informed decision. And a 19-year-old trans man struggles to access care in Florida as abortion bans radiate across the American South.

Before, it was a common misconception that abortion restrictions affected only people in certain states, but left one's own life untouched. Now, patients forced to travel to access care creates a domino effect across the entire country. As the landscape of abortion rights continues to shift, the experiences of these patients—those who had to cross state lines to seek life-saving care, who risked everything they had in pursuit of their own bodily autonomy, and who were unable to plan their reproductive future in the way that they deserved—illustrates how fragile the system is, and how devastating the consequences can be.

Through the perspectives of patients, providers, activists, and lawmakers, Undue Burden is a revelatory portrait of human rights, healthcare, and economic and racial inequality in America.

Praise for Undue Burden

"Insisting that the stories of human suffering cannot be sidelined as some niche politicized concern, Shefali Luthra places the people whose lives, bodies, families and ability to provide care have been wholly remade by Dobbs at the center of this urgent volume. An absolute must-read; tell your friends; buy it for your family; sit with it on your own. This is storytelling we need." —Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad and All the Single Ladies

"Undue Burden reframes the battle over abortion from a niche cultural issue to a national human rights crisis that threatens everyone’s welfare and freedom. By telling the gripping stories of pregnant people desperately seeking abortions across the country and the advocates who courageously fight for expanded access to care, Shefali Luthra makes plain Dobbs’s devastating repercussions for our health, autonomy, and equality—and highlights the potential for change. Undue Burden is a compelling, urgent call for reproductive justice." —Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body

"For decades, access to abortion has been our nation's most vigorously attacked human right—a battle that Shefali Luthra has chroncled with a rigor and empathy matched by few others. In the pages of Undue Burden, Luthra explores the war on abortion rights through the stories of the real people whose rights are threatened and lives forever altered by the powerful political movement that has spent decades working to overturn the right to terminate a pregnancy. The history told within these pages is sweeping, the characters moving, and the message urgent. This is a book that meets our moment, painting a portrait that vividly underscores the stakes of our times." —Wesley Lowery, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of American Whitelash

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Deborah Becker
Deborah Becker

Deborah Becker

Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR.  Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education. Deb is also a substitute host on several WBUR programs and helps produce and report for various WBUR special projects. Deb also worked on the launch of WRNI, Rhode Island's NPR News Station, where she served as Morning Edition host and host of the weekly show "Focus Rhode Island." Before coming to WBUR, Deb worked at Monitor Radio, the broadcast arm of The Christian Science Monitor newspaper. She also worked at several Boston area radio stations. Deb has received numerous awards for her hosting, newscasts, reporting and investigative reporting. 

Photo Credit: Liz Linder

Shefali Luthra
Shefali Luthra

Shefali Luthra

Shefali Luthra has covered national health policy for the past decade, most recently at The 19th. Her coverage of abortion rights has been cited in Congressional testimony and Supreme Court briefings and in 2023 received an Online Journalism Award. Luthra’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and more. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: Meka Hemmons of SpiderMeka Portraits

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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