In the Hands of Women is a suspenseful historical novel centered on the life of Hannah Isaacson, an obstetrician in training who was determined to improve medical safety for women in a time when women had few choices. This carefully researched work, set in 1900 Baltimore and New York City, when birth control and abortion were both illegal, leaves us contemplating whether history is repeating itself.
With the advent of obstetrics and anesthesia as distinct fields of practice in 1900, hospital births rapidly gained popularity. Midwives, who previously cared for these women, began supplementing their shrinking incomes with abortions, sometimes performing dangerous midterm abortions with disastrous consequences.
Hannah, a devoted women's advocate and suffragist, finds herself overwhelmed by the ignorance and medical needs of her patients, poor and wealthy. She is determined to make a difference and joins Margaret Sanger in her crusade to overturn the restrictive Comstock Laws prohibiting birth control. After coming to the aid of a woman dying from a botched abortion, Hannah is charged with murder and sent to the terrifying Blackwell's Prison to await her trial. With the support of influential friends, including Margaret Sanger and the female trustees of Johns Hopkins Medical School, she challenges the Governor of New York with a novel proposition.