“We try to explain something people know a little bit about, but not really the full story,” explained Susan Matthews, Executive Editor at Slate, how a history podcast Slow Burn picks their topic. “We always think about what is the thing that is going to be relevant when we air it,” Matthews added. The last season of Slow Burn was released in June 2022 during a critical period for the US. Two days after the final episode was aired, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the crucial case guaranteeing the right to abortion.
Attendants of Matthew’s panel got the chance to peek behind the curtain of the story of a forgotten predecessor of Roe v. Wade. It’s a story about Sherley Wheeler, who in the 1970 fought for abortion rights for women. Her journey to an abortion activist began when she herself got pregnant and went to get an illegal abortion. After she woke up, an unpleasant surprise awaited at her doorstep. Police interrogated her right after the abortion trying to find out who conducted the procedure. After Sherley did not disclose the name of the doctor, she got charged instead of him, an unprecedented act in abortion policy. She was found guilty and could choose from 2 options: either marry her then-boyfriend or move back home to South Carolina to her parents. She chose to move back only to become a face for the women’s rights campaign that led to the Roe v. Wade case a few years later.
“I really wanted to engage with the other side of the issue,” Matthews underlined. During her research, she discovered a Handbook on Abortion written by Catholic couple, refuting arguments in favour of abortion. What made Handbook on Abortion so powerful was its graphic imagery, depicting abortion in different stages of pregnancy. Matthews mentioned that this work with intense images continues in the US anti-abortion movement until today.
Whether you’re a long time fan of Slow Burn or have just found about it, you can look forward to May, when a new season starts.”Becoming Justice Thomas” will surely be another educating experience for all listeners who decide to spend time with one of the only podcasts reaching the 100 000 000 thresholds.