‘Thank the lord, I have been relieved’: the truth about the history of abortion in America

Abortion in the 19th-century US was widely accepted as a means of avoiding the risks of pregnancy. The idea of banning or punishing it came later

by Tamara Dean
Tue 12 Jul 2022

At our rural county’s historical society, the past lives loosely in bulletins, news clippings, maps and handwritten index cards. It’s pieced together by pale, grey-haired women who sit at oak tables and pore over old photos. Western sun filters in, half-lighting the women as they name who’s pictured, who has passed on. Other volunteers gossip and cut obituaries from local newspapers.

I was sent here by hearsay. For years, my neighbour has claimed that the old cemetery in the low-lying field on my Wisconsin property contains more bodies than the scant number of tombstones indicates. The epic flood of 1978 washed away the markers of the nameless – civil war soldiers, he says. I want to know who the dead were in life. After many walks through the cemetery, I’m familiar with the markers that remain. One narrow footstone reads simply: “MAS”. Three marble headstones rest at odd angles among the box elder trees. Stained, eroded and lichen-crusted, the stones belong to a boy and two baby girls who died in the 1850s and 60s. On the boy’s is a relief of a weeping willow; on the sisters’ are rosebuds. Signs of young lives cut short.


Are ‘herbal abortions’ safe? Doctors warn against viral TikTok trend following Roe v Wade overturn

Rachel Ann Rodrigues
Jul 08, 2022

Abortions induced by ingesting unregulated herbal concoctions can be dangerous, but do-it-yourself recipes for self-regulated miscarriages have been doing the rounds on TikTok, and doctors are warning against it.

These controversial and potentially fatal videos have been gaining momentum since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on June 24 - a landmark ruling that dismantled the constitutional right to abortion.


Ben Franklin Put an Abortion Recipe in His Math Textbook

To colonial Americans, termination was as normal as the ABCs and 123s.

MAY 05, 2022

The year was 1748, the place was Philadelphia, and the book was The Instructor, a popular British manual for everything from arithmetic to letter-writing to caring for horses’ hooves. Benjamin Franklin had set himself to adapting it for the American colonies.

Though Franklin already had a long and successful career by this point, he needed to find a way to convince colonial book-buyers—who for the most part didn’t even formally study arithmetic—that his version of George Fisher’s textbook was worth the investment. Franklin made all sorts of changes throughout the book, from place names to inserting colonial histories, but he made one really big change: adding John Tennent’s The Poor Planter’s Physician to the end. Tennent was a Virginia doctor whose medical pamphlet had first appeared in 1734.

Continued: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/05/ben-franklin-american-instructor-textbook-abortion-recipe.html

How to Give Yourself an Abortion

How to Give Yourself an Abortion

January 9, 2020
Posted by Arielle Swernoff
Illustrated by Matt Lubchansky

For as long as people have gotten pregnant, people have given themselves abortions. Historically, these methods have varied from the brutal to the toxic to the bizarre.

But history hasn’t always gotten it wrong. From the Bronze Age until the 1st or 2nd century BCE, silphium, a plant native to Libya, was used as a safe and effective contraceptive and abortifacient. It’s said the plant was so popular that it was harvested to extinction. More recently, enslaved black people in the American South devised numerous herbal treatments to terminate unwanted pregnancies, some of which are still used today.

Continued: https://jewishcurrents.org/how-to-give-yourself-an-abortion/

USA – Women Have Always Had Abortions

Women Have Always Had Abortions

By Lauren MacIvor Thompson
Dec. 13, 2019

Over the course of American history, women of all classes, races, ages and statuses have ended their pregnancies, both before there were any laws about abortion and after a raft of 19th-century laws restricted it. Our ignorance of this history, however, equips those in the anti-abortion movement with the power to create dangerous narratives. They peddle myths about the past where wayward women sought abortions out of desperation, pathetic victims of predatory abortionists. They wrongly argue that we have long thought about fetuses as people with rights. And they improperly frame Roe v. Wade as an anomaly, saying it liberalized a practice that Americans had always opposed.

But the historical record shows a far different set of conclusions.

Continued: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/13/opinion/sunday/abortion-history-women.html

Contraceptive Knowledge in the Mid-19th-Century United States

Contraceptive Knowledge in the Mid-19th-Century United States

December 5, 2019

Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger Donna J. Drucker, MLS, PhD, Senior Advisor, English as the Language of Instruction at Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany. Here, Dr. Drucker explores the changing availability of knowledge about contraception.

What do pennyroyal, fish skins, horse riding, and ergot of rye have in common? They are all contraceptive methods that have been used for centuries. In preliterate societies, information on regulating pregnancy was likely passed down orally from one generation of women to the next as they helped each other with pregnancies, births, and child spacing. In the mid-nineteenth-century US, however, more and more women were literate and information was more securely captured in print. Examining three mid-nineteenth century medical guides, available online and searchable in the NLM Digital Collections, shows the range of information available to those who could access and read books.

Continued: https://circulatingnow.nlm.nih.gov/2019/12/05/contraceptive-knowledge-in-the-mid-19th-century-united-states/

When abortion wasn’t legal in Britain

TBT: When abortion wasn’t legal in Britain

Kate Lister
Thursday September 14th 2017

Last week, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that abortion was “morally indefensible” in all cases, including rape and incest; and some people were surprised at this.

Now, I would have been surprised to hear these views uttered by Basil Brush, for example, or by Caitlin Moran, but by Jacob Rees-Mogg? Not a jot. The British love an eccentric and the sight of Rees-Mogg wandering about like an extra from Downton Abbey, blithely unaware the last hundred years has happened, tickled us. But Rees-Mogg’s ‘old fashioned’ values extend to far more than tailored suits, a posh accent and having a nanny on staff; they extend to contraception too.

Continued at source: iNews: https://inews.co.uk/explainers/iq/tbt-abortion-wasnt-legal-britain/