A brief history of abortion – from ancient Egyptian herbs to fighting stigma today

September 21, 2023
Alisha Palmer

You might be forgiven for thinking of abortion as a particularly modern phenomenon. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that abortion has been a constant feature of social life for thousands of years. The history of abortion is often told as a legal one, yet abortion has continued regardless of, perhaps even in spite of, legal regulation.

The need to regulate fertility before or after sex has existed for as long as pregnancy has. The Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Ebers is often seen as some of the first written evidence of abortion practice.

Continued: https://theconversation.com/a-brief-history-of-abortion-from-ancient-egyptian-herbs-to-fighting-stigma-today-213033

Inside the 1969 abortion arrest that overturned Wisconsin’s century-old ban

Years before Roe, a doctor's arrest in Milwaukee became a flashpoint for the abortion rights movement

By Sarah Lehr and Rob Mentzer
 Wednesday, August 9, 2023

On a Saturday in September 1969, a 23-year-old grad student walked into an office inside the Majestic Building in downtown Milwaukee. She had been there once before, for a consultation with Dr. Sidney Babbitz.

Babbitz was 59 years old and had mostly retired to Florida. But he was known in whisper networks as a doctor who was willing to perform illegal abortions back in Wisconsin.

Continued: https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-1849-abortion-ban-history-arrest-overturned

Abortion in America: How access and attitudes have changed through the centuries

by: Eliza Siegel, Stacker
Jul 28, 2023

The Postal Service can legally deliver abortion medications in the U.S.—including to states with abortion restrictions or bans—according to a Justice Department decision posted online late Jan. 3. The Postal Service requested that the Justice Department provide guidance on this issue a week after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in June 2022. That ruling, which sparked intense debate across the U.S., led to abortion restrictions and bans in many states.

In its decision, the Justice Department ruled that sending, delivering, and receiving abortion drugs by mail is not in violation of the 1873 Comstock Act —which aimed to prevent morally “corrupt” items from being delivered by mail—because there is no way to determine that the intent of the recipient is to commit an unlawful act. There are also no federal restrictions on the drugs in question.

Continued: https://www.ksnt.com/news/abortion-in-america-how-access-and-attitudes-have-changed-through-the-centuries/

Opinion: Madame Restell, and the history of abortion in America

July 10, 2023

Last year, as we watched the U.S. Supreme Court destroy reproductive freedom for women, more attention was paid to the outcome of the Dobbs abortion case than the Court’s reasoning and justification. Justice Samuel Alito, Dobbs author, relied heavily on history in supporting his opinion.

What happened in earlier American history is contested terrain. I would submit that Justice Alito got his history very wrong. He argued that abortion was not deeply rooted in U.S. history and traditions. Alito wrote, “…an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”

Continued: https://www.concordmonitor.com/My-Turn-Abortion-history-Madame-Restell-and-the-revival-of-Comstockery-51539521

Abortion is ancient history: Long before Roe, women terminated pregnancies

By Katie Hunt, CNN
Fri June 23, 2023

Abortion today, at least in the United States, is a political, legal and moral powder keg. But for long stretches of history, terminating an unwanted pregnancy, especially in the early stages, was a relatively uncontroversial fact of life, historians say.

Egyptian papyrus, Greek plays, Roman coins, the medieval biographies of saints, medical and midwifery manuals, and Victorian newspaper and pamphlets reveal that abortion was more common in premodern times than people might think.

Continued: https://www.cnn.com/2023/06/23/health/abortion-is-ancient-history-and-that-matters-today-scn/index.html

Punishable by death—how the US anti-abortion movement ended up proposing the death penalty

These proposals are unlikely to succeed but remind Americans what is at stake, writes Rebecca Kluchin

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.p711
Published 24 March 2023
Rebecca Kluchin, professor

In January 2023, 24 Republican legislators in the US state of South Carolina sponsored the South Carolina Equal Protection Act of 2023, a bill designed to extend constitutional rights to embryos and fetuses at all stages of development, granting them equality with women already born.1 The bill makes women and pregnant people who undergo abortion subject to the state’s homicide laws and punishments, including the death penalty. It allows exceptions if they face “imminent death or great bodily injury,” as well as to save the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest.

The anti-abortion movement celebrated a huge victory last summer when the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. With the ruling for Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court threw abortion policy back to the judgment of individual states, making access to abortion care contingent on where one lives. Since then, 14 states have criminalised abortion.2 South Carolina legislators attempted to ban the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, but the state supreme court ruled that effort unconstitutional in January. The Equal Protection Act is one of several legislative efforts to ban the procedure again.

Continued: https://www.bmj.com/content/380/bmj.p711

The Abortion Pill’s Secret Money Men

The untold story of the private equity investors behind Mifeprex—and their escalating legal battle to cash in post-Dobbs.

Mother Jones, MARCH+APRIL 2023 ISSUE

In 1993, a group of activists rented a warehouse in suburban Westchester County, New York. It was smaller than they’d hoped and had limited ventilation, but the two other locations they’d tried to rent belonged to universities and required jumping through too many bureaucratic hoops—the exact sort of paper trail this group was trying to avoid.

Led by renowned pro-choice activist Lawrence Lader, their goal was to replicate RU-486, the revolutionary abortion pill developed in the 1980s by French manufacturer Roussel-­Uclaf—which was unwilling to navigate American abortion politics to bring the pill stateside.

Continued: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/01/abortion-pill-mifepristone-mifeprex-roe-dobbs-private-equity/

Abortion was once common practice in America. A small group of doctors changed that

January 19, 2023
Rund Abdelfatah
6-Minute Listen with Transcript

The 50th anniversary of the Roe V. Wade decision is Jan. 22. NPR's podcast Throughline examines the debate about abortion, which wasn't always controversial.

This week, it'll mark 50 years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutionally protected right - at least for 49 years. In U.S. history, though, abortion wasn't always controversial. In fact, in colonial America, it was considered a fairly common practice, a private decision made by women and aided mostly by midwives. But in the mid-1800s, a small group of physicians set out to change that. Led by a zealous young doctor named Horatio Storer, they launched a campaign to make abortion illegal in every state. Here are hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah from our history podcast Throughline.

Continued: https://www.npr.org/2023/01/19/1149924325/abortion-was-once-common-practice-in-america-a-small-group-of-doctors-changed-th

Today in History: Arrest of Dr Willy Peers for performing 200 abortions

Sunday, 15 January 2023

On this day, in 1973, Doctor Willy Peers was arrested and prosecuted for performing over 200 abortions in Namur. The ensuing public outrage marked the beginning of a historic societal shift in favour of abortion in the country.

In 1973, Belgium was one of the last countries in Europe where voluntary interruption of pregnancy was still prohibited by law, due to the influence of the Catholic Church.

Continued: https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/352913/today-in-history-arrest-of-dr-willy-peers-for-performing-200-abortions

How abortion was decriminalised in Australia

The Context | ABC News
Dec 31, 2022 
Video:  3:50 minutes

Did you know that up until late 1960s, abortion was banned unless pregnancy posed a risk to life? John Barron explores the history of the decriminalisation of abortion in Australia.

Continued: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDeRQHRD_lg