Dr. Nikki Colodny’s journey from psychotherapy to civil disobedience

Dr. Nikki Colodny took part in the fight to ensure access to safe abortions in Canada in the 1980s. This is the story of how she became involved with the movement and eventually decided to violate Canada’s abortion law.

by Meghan Tibbits-Lamirande
May 7, 2024

At 8:45 a.m. on September 24, 1986, Toronto police knocked on the window of Dr. Nikki Colodny’s vehicle and placed her under arrest. Taking just a moment to pack her knitting and her Holly Near cassette tape, Dr. Colodny went quietly to the courthouse where she was charged, alongside her colleagues Dr. Henry Morgentaler and Dr. Robert Scott, for conspiracy to commit a miscarriage.

Originally trained as a psychotherapist and family physician, Colodny joined the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics (OCAC) as an “envelope licker” in the early 1980s, and eventually trained as an abortion provider at Henry Morgentaler’s clinic in Montreal. From 1986 until the landmark Supreme Court decision R v Morgentaler in January 1988, Colodny provided abortions in contravention of Canadian law.

Continued: https://rabble.ca/feminism/dr-nikki-colodnys-journey-from-psychotherapy-to-civil-disobedience/

“Abortionist”: The Label That Turns Healthcare Workers Into Criminals

The moniker has branded those who help terminate pregnancies as illegitimate, dangerous, and, in turn, allowable targets of violence.

May/June 2024 issue (posted April 15)

In 2007, after Paul Ross Evans pleaded guilty to leaving a bomb outside of a women’s health clinic in Austin, he assured the judge: He never meant for anyone to get hurt. “Except,” he clarified, “for the abortionists.”

For almost two centuries, the moniker “abortionist” has branded those who help terminate pregnancies as illegitimate, dangerous, and, in turn, allowable targets of violence. Before Roe v. Wade, the label turned midwives and doctors into criminals to be cracked down on by the state. After the 1973 decision, right-wing movements continued to deploy the term to imply only back-alley doctors performed abortions.


Library archives uncover long-lost history of Colorado women dying trying to get an abortion before it was legal

By John Daley
Mar. 7, 2024

Abortion access —  some states have outlawed it, others have seen scores of patients from out of state —  has been in the news since the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Constitutional right to an abortion two years ago.  But looking back through history shows that unplanned pregnancies and access to abortions have been in the news for a long, long time.

More than a century ago, readers of the Rocky Mountain News learned about the death of a young woman who worked in a shop named Maude, who was trying to terminate a pregnancy. A woman named Mrs. Proctor, the wife of the manager of a “remedy company,” was charged with manslaughter in Maude’s death.

Continued: https://www.cpr.org/2024/03/07/denver-public-library-history-of-abortion-access-in-colorado/

Birth Control and Abortion in the Middle Ages

Birth control and abortion did take place in the Middle Ages and, like today, there were many medical and ethical issues that medieval people had to contend with.

Feb 18, 2024

In the Middle Ages you will find many opinions about what should or shouldn’t be done when it came to preventing pregnancies. However, the medieval period might be unique in that it is perhaps the only time when you can read the same author in one work condemning the use of birth control and in another giving directions on how to use it.

Religious values held the most important influence on the use of birth control, before and after one conceives. Taking their cue from the Biblical commandment to “Be fruitful, and multiply,” medieval Christianity saw the sole purpose of sex as a means to conceive children. Therefore, the idea that one could use birth control to stop conception was usually harshly condemned (and often equated as being the same as abortion). One ninth-century text, explains, “a woman who has taken a magic potion, however many times she would otherwise have become pregnant and given birth, must recognize herself to be guilty of homicide.”

Continued: https://www.medievalists.net/2024/02/birth-control-abortion-middle-ages/

The Abortion Provider Who Became the Most Hated Woman in New York

In nineteenth-century New York, abortion was shrouded in secrecy and stigma. But, for Madame Restell, there was no such thing as bad press.

By Moira Donegan
January 17, 2024

She chose the name because it sounded French. When she took out her first newspaper ad, in 1839, she wanted to cultivate an air of mystery and sophistication. In time, her pseudonym, Madame Restell, would be furnished with a backstory for the women who arrived at her office door. The Madame, they were told, had been trained in Europe, at the continent’s famous lying-in maternity hospitals. She’d been taught by her grandmother, a French midwife, and her “preventative powders” had been used in Europe for decades.

None of it was true. The woman her clients knew as Madame Restell had been born Ann Trow, in rural England, grown up in poverty, and never received any formal medical training. But these origins were supposed to be comfortingly credentialled to Restell’s customers, the women who made her into one of the wealthiest—and most notorious—businesswomen in New York City. They came to her seeking abortions.

Continued: https://www.newyorker.com/books/under-review/the-abortion-provider-who-became-the-most-hated-woman-in-new-york

Michiana Chronicles: Ceci n’est plus un cintre – Abortion as a Constitutional Right in France

Anne Magnan-Park focuses on the right to “end pregnancy voluntarily” in France.

WVPE 88.1 Elkhart/South Bend | By Anne Magnan Park
Published January 11, 2024

In her memoir entitled Happening [2], Nobel Prize laureate Annie Ernaux retraces her experience as a 23-year-old promising student. Her narrative focuses on the abortion she received in January 1964, eleven years before abortion became legal in France [3], and during which she almost lost her life. In her memoir, Ernaux draws meticulously from her journals to stay true to the details of her psychological and physical ordeals.

Continued: https://www.wvpe.org/commentary/2024-01-11/michiana-chronicles-ceci-nest-plus-un-cintre-abortion-as-a-constitutional-right-in-france

N. Ireland – Blair told Mowlam to put abortion law reform ‘on ice’ 20 years before it was legalised in North

Prime minister’s private secretary wrote that Blair ‘sees little scope for bi-communal support for a change to the law’

Seanín Graham
Thu Dec 28 2023

Twenty years before abortion was legalised in Northern Ireland, British prime minister Tony Blair ordered Northern secretary Mo Mowlam to put her planned review of the restrictive law on terminations “on ice”.

The Downing Street correspondence is contained in previously confidential files released this week in which Blair’s private secretary wrote that the “Prime Minister… sees little scope for bi-communal support for a change to the law and sees little advantage in embarking on a review.”

Continued: https://www.irishtimes.com/history/2023/12/28/blair-told-mowlam-to-put-abortion-law-reform-on-ice-20-years-before-it-was-legalised-in-north/

Abortion is now legal across Australia – but it’s still hard to access. Doctors are both the problem and the solution

December 5, 2023
Barbara Baird, Associate Professor, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University

Abortion is now fully legal in every jurisdiction in Australia. Western Australia became the last state to decriminalise it just two months ago, in September 2023. And the Australian population is solidly pro-choice: a 2021 study found 76% of Australians support access to abortion.

Yet access to abortion care here has been described as a “lottery” in a 2023 Senate inquiry report. My research into abortion provision in Australia over the past 30 years doesn’t describe chance, but an inadequate system.

Continued: https://theconversation.com/abortion-is-now-legal-across-australia-but-its-still-hard-to-access-doctors-are-both-the-problem-and-the-solution-216278

Revisiting New York’s Historic Abortion Law in “Deciding Vote”

Jeremy Workman and Robert Lyons’s film reconstructs the passage of a 1970 law that made the state a sanctuary for people seeking abortions, and cost a lawmaker his career.

by Linnea Feldman Emison
November 29, 2023

In April, 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade made it legal nationwide, New York passed the most expansive abortion law in the U.S. Three other states passed similar bills in the same year, but New York’s was of particular national significance because it allowed patients to get an abortion even if they weren’t residents. This made the state a hub for people from other parts of the country seeking to safely end their pregnancies. That role has become a lasting element of New York’s political identity—in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe, in 2022, it passed a suite of laws to again become a sanctuary state for those seeking abortions—but that 1970 law almost fizzled out in the state legislature.

Continued: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-documentary/revisiting-new-yorks-historic-abortion-law-in-deciding-vote

How the Far-Right Shaped Abortion Care Long Before ‘Roe’ Was Overturned

Naomi Braine's book Abortion Beyond the Law digs into how self-managed abortion emerges from new technologies while building on previous feminist movements.

NOV 14, 2023

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, they upended a way of organizing medical care—and life—that women of reproductive age in the United States largely took for granted. In June 2022, when the Dobbs decision was officially released, abortion had been legal for 49 years, and while it had been increasingly difficult to access in much of the United States, there is a vast difference between “inaccessible” and “illegal.” In states that have banned abortion, doctors (and hospital lawyers) calculate the odds of criminal prosecution and even incarceration as they make decisions about care for pregnant women with health conditions, often critical ones, that are incompatible with continuing a pregnancy. In states like Texas, where support for a person seeking an abortion has been criminalized, abortion funds have scrambled to figure out whether they can still operate and, in many cases, have had to close their doors and/or relocate to a different state.

Continued: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/2023/11/14/how-the-far-right-shaped-abortion-care-long-before-roe-was-overturned/