Book Review: No Turning Back: Two Nuns’ Battle With the Vatican over Women’s Right to Choose

No Turning Back: Two Nuns’ Battle With the Vatican over Women’s Right to Choose, written by Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey with Jane O’Reilly, is the compelling personal account of the religious lives of two Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey, and how their refusal to recant their dissent on the matter of a woman’s right to choose placed them directly in the cross-hairs of an authority determined to bring them and their public position on abortion in line with Catholic doctrine. An inevitable confrontational meeting between the nuns and representatives from the Vatican begins the tale and sets the tone for the rest of the book. The focus quickly turns to a biographical look at the lives of each woman, and the decisions each woman made which eventually brought them into painful moral conflict with Catholic doctrine. The book concludes with the nuns’ decision to leave their vocations instead of disavowing what had become their firmly held moral beliefs. The deftly wrought anecdotes of the lives of Hussey and Ferraro not only illuminate a fascinating period of cultural change within the United States and within the Catholic Church, but also provides a personal look at the moral quest of two women to validate the lived experiences of their own lives, and the lives of Catholic women everywhere, as truths that should not be dismissed. No Turning Back is a riveting read for anyone interested in the role of women within the Catholic Church, those interested in the Catholic doctrine of abortion, and those interested in the social history of a particularly tumultuous period in both American life and that of the Catholic Church.