USA – How did women get abortions when they were illegal? A 1966 Post series reveals the answer

How did women get abortions when they were illegal? A 1966 Post series reveals the answer
Before Roe v. Wade, women died trying to end their pregnancies

The Lily News
June 13, 2019

Original story by Elisabeth Stevens for The Washington Post.

As new abortion restrictions are being imposed in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Utah and other states, nearly a half-century after Roe v. Wade, The Washington Post is looking back at a four-part series that ran in January 1966 on how women in the Washington area obtained abortions. At the time, abortion was illegal with few exceptions in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Below is an abridged version of The Post’s four-part series, edited to highlight personal experiences. The original headlines of the series are now subheads for each section.


Kenya – Harsh realities behind the moral debate on abortion

Harsh realities behind the moral debate on abortion

Nov. 22, 2018

In a dark, nondescript room, the walls caked in spots and smears whose origins she would rather not think about, a young girl sits wringing her hands, waiting for the woman she had been told could help her. She takes one deep breath after another, telling herself it will be okay, there is no other option, she has to be there.

Eventually the door slowly starts to open, bathing the room in light that does nothing other than illuminate the dilapidated hospital bed in the corner.

“You, lie over there!”


USA – The future of DIY abortions is the internet, not a back-alley doctor

The future of DIY abortions is the internet, not a back-alley doctor
No need for a clinic at all

by Lux Alptraum
Sep 22, 2018

For many people, the phrase “illegal abortion” calls to mind images of back alley clinics, medical providers with questionable credentials, and, of course, the dreaded coat hanger — an object so evocative it’s often been used as a protest symbol. But those images are outdated, belonging to a pre-Roe era. These days, the real action in abortion is now online, as a group of reproductive rights activists use the internet to spread the word about how to use abortion pills. They hope to give pregnant people living in places where abortion is nearly inaccessible, or outright illegal, access to safe and effective ways to take charge of their own fertility.

Thanks to the introduction of abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol — which, in combination, effectively induce abortion 95 percent to 98 percent of the time — it’s become possible to terminate an unwanted pregnancy without an invasive medical procedure. More to the point, it’s possible for women to take these pills to induce an abortion on their own, without the assistance of a doctor. Those pills can be bought online — so for many people, it’s possible to avoid the clinic entirely.


I Saw A Woman Die From A Self-Induced Abortion — That’s The Cost Of Our Silence

I Saw A Woman Die From A Self-Induced Abortion — That's The Cost Of Our Silence

By Nisha Verma
May 1, 2018

A few months ago, I got a tattoo of a coat hanger on my right wrist. When people ask me what it means, I tell them the story of the woman I once met who didn't deserve to die. I tell them about the lack of access to safe and legal abortion that killed her.

Warning: Some readers may find the following details graphic and triggering.

At the time, I worked as a resident at a hospital in Botswana. This woman had tried to end her pregnancy with a "coat hanger abortion" — in her case, by placing sticks through her vagina into her uterus. She was pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital. She was 22 years old. She died because she lived in a country where safe and legal abortion did not exist. 


U.S.: Warning – Abortion’s Deadly DIY Past Could Soon Become Its Future

By Rebecca Traister

January 10, 2017, New Yorker Magazine

On Election Day, the most-searched issue on Google was abortion. According to the Washington Post, searches for “Trump on abortion” rose by more than 4,000 percent in the late afternoon of November 8. Perhaps these searchers were unclear on the position of the candidate who in his pre-political life had supported Planned Parenthood but during the campaign suggested that women should be punished for having illegal abortions and in the final debate talked about abortion providers who “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” Or perhaps the frantic last-minute searching was a manifestation of collective anxiety about what would become an early flash point in the Trump administration—and a first test of whether much of the social progress of the past 40 years can be undone over the next four.

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Source: New Yorker Magazine