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Tue Jun 28, 2016, 11:34 AM

History of Abortion in the U.S.

(lengthy, excellent read)

History of Abortion in the U.S.


Women around the world have used abortion to control their reproduction at every point in history, and in every known society — regardless of its legality.





In the United States, abortion was widely practiced before about 1880, by which time most states had banned it except to save the life of the woman. Anti-abortion legislation was part of a backlash against the growing movements for suffrage and birth control — an effort to control women and confine them to a traditional childbearing role.

This legislation was also a way for the medical profession to tighten its control over women’s health care, as midwives who performed abortions were a threat to the male medical establishment. Finally, with the declining birthrate among women from Northern European backgrounds in the late 1800s, the U.S. government and the eugenics movement were concerned about “race suicide” and wanted white U.S.-born women to reproduce.

. . . .
Laws prohibiting abortion subjected women to desperation, fear, and shame, and took a heavy toll on women’s lives and health. Poor women and women of color suffered disproportionately, as the ability of a woman to obtain an abortion, let alone one that was safe, often depended upon her economic situation, her race, and where she lived. Women with money could sometimes leave the country or find a physician who would perform the procedure for a high fee. Poor women, for the most part, were either at the mercy of incompetent practitioners with questionable motives or unable to find anyone who would perform the procedure. Many attempted dangerous self-abortions, such as inserting knitting needles or coat hangers into the vagina and uterus, douching with solutions such as lye, or swallowing strong drugs or chemicals.

Because many deaths were not officially attributed to unsafe, illegal abortion, it’s impossible to know the exact number of lives lost. However, thousands of women a year were treated for health complications due to botched, unsanitary, or self-induced abortions, and many died. Others were left infertile or with chronic illness and pain.


Wherever abortion is illegal, committed people take enormous risks to provide safe abortions clandestinely, to treat women who have complications, and to help women find safe providers. Before the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973, some dedicated and well-trained physicians and other medical practitioners risked imprisonment, fines, and loss of their medical licenses to provide abortions. Information about these services often spread by word of mouth.

. . . .

http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/health-info/u-s-abortion-history/

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