U.S. – What It Was Like to Perform Abortions Before Roe v. Wade

Two doctors recall the hardships and horrors facing women before the United States legalized abortion.
By Hannah Smothers
Nov 02, 2016. Cosmopolitan

During the third and final presidential debate, Republican candidate Donald Trump made his views on abortion — and Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure in 1973 — clear.

"I’m putting pro-life justices on the court," Trump said about overturning Roe v. Wade. "I will say this. It will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination." What Trump described was once a reality in the United States. Forty-three years ago, before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in all 50 states, abortion rights were left to state legislatures. In 1970, just three years before Roe, only four states had legalized abortions. And even where abortion was legal, the lack of a national law allowed states to create severe restrictions that forced women to get permission from a panel of doctors in order to get an abortion, or prove that they were likely to die if they went on with the pregnancy. (Today, states can still make laws restricting the procedure, but many have been challenged, including Texas's House Bill 2, which reached the Supreme Court. Parts of the bill were struck down as unconstitutional.) The reality was that millions of women were terrified of unwanted pregnancies, because unwanted pregnancies relegated them to seeking out illegal, unsafe abortions from people without any medical practice.

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Source: Cosmopolitan