Last night I promised a thread about #abortion before Roe v Wade legalized it nationally. Until the mid-1800s, common law allowed abortion until "quickening", when fetal movement can be felt. Toxic abortion remedies & doctors competing w midwives led to… 1/
laws outlawing abortion except where pregnancy was likely to be fatal spreading across the country. Bottled abortion remedies could be and were fatal, and doctors, almost all white and male, didn't want midwives competing with them for pregnancy care. 2/
"In the late 1920s some 15,000 women a year died from [illegal] abortions…In 1971, the year after decriminalization, the maternal-mortality rate in New York State dropped 45%." 3/…
"The movement [to legalize] was spearheaded by doctors who saw firsthand the carnage created by illegal abortion (more than 5,000 deaths a year, mostly of black and Hispanic women), and whose hands were now firmly tied by the hospital committees they themselves had created." 4/
"A new generation of doctors, who have never seen a woman die from a septic abortion or been haunted by the suicide of a patient denied help, are increasingly reluctant to terminate pregnancies. Only 12% of med schools teach 1st-trimester abortion" in gynecology. 5/
"Surveys in New York City in the mid-1960s revealed the variety of methods used. Treatments women took by mouth included turpentine, bleach, detergents and a range of herbal and vegetable teas. Quinine and chloroquine (malaria medicines) were ingested,…" 6/
"and potassium permanganate was placed in the vagina, often causing chemical burns. Toxic solutions were squirted into the uterus, such as soap and turpentine, often causing kidney failure and death." 7/…
"Insertion of foreign bodies was common and more effective than oral agents. Objects included a coat hanger, knitting needle, bicycle spoke, ball-point pen, chicken bone and rubber catheter. Some women threw themselves off of stairs or roofs in an attempt to end a pregnancy." 8/
"It touched me because I’d see young, [otherwise] healthy women in their 20s die from the consequences of an infected nonsterile abortion. Women would do anything to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. They’d risk their lives. It was a different world, I’ll tell you." 9/
"Every large municipal hospital in the U.S. had a septic ward, filled with women suffering from infections after these interventions. At Bellevue Hospital in New York City from 1940-1954, more than 7,000 cases of incomplete abortion were treated,…" 10/
"and a third were complicated by infection." Abortion access was largely based on race and socioeconomic status. In New York City, public hospitals with largely poor patients performed 1 abortion per 1,000 births, while private hospitals had 6 per 1,000. 11/
Again in NYC: "In 1960-62, abortion ratios for Puerto Rican women were 0.1 per 1,000 births, 0.5 for African-American women, and 2.6 for white women." Death rates for attempted home abortions were essentially the opposite. 12/
"Why didn't they just get birth control, you wonder. Because some state laws still defined contraception as "obscene," and not until 1965… did the Supreme Court say contraceptives were legal for married couples. The unmarried didn't get that right until 1972." 13/
"On a fine morning a while back, in a pleasant Southern California kitchen, I was talking with a woman who, 40 years ago, was known to the world as Sherry Finkbine.

She was host of a children's TV show, had four kids and was pregnant with her fifth when…"
"she took pills her doctor-husband got from Europe. They turned out to contain thalidomide, a drug that creates nightmarish deformities in fetuses. No American state, no American law permitted her to abort the deformed fetus,…"
"so she flew to Sweden, and for a time she was reviled from her hometown to the Vatican.

In her kitchen that morning, she told me, "I'm a real believer in freedom of choice. And if you think abortion is horrible, then for God's sakes I would never try to talk you into it.""
"It is "the most intimate, personal, heartbreaking decision anyone has to make -- a human issue that doesn't have any business in a political campaign.... I wish all those energies spewed out by those right-to-life people could be turned into" 17/ (sorry)
"time spent improving the quality of life for a battered child, the orphaned child, the hungry child, the unwanted child."" 18/…
"We saw a lot of the complications in the hospitals. I was a doctor in training. Women came in bleeding, with fever, with incomplete evacuations, with perforations. Some of them were quite ill and occasionally someone died. We thought a lot of these were spontaneous abortions"19/
"— we didn’t realize all of them were induced. The only reason we know that now is that when abortion was legalized, these cases disappeared. There were probably over a million illegal abortions being provided each year in this country, so" 20/
"when it was legalized, it did not increase the number of abortions. It just had a much higher complication rate [before Roe v. Wade], and today, we’ve made it one of the safest medical procedures that there is." 21/…
Networks of clergy were one of the paths women had to find abortions where they were illegal before Roe v Wade. As people familiar with the suffering these women went through, they took on a mission to help them get the care they needed. 22/
"Howard Moody, who was a Baptist minister from New York, started the Clergy Consultation Service and is probably the reason I ended up in this field of work. I’m an ordained minister. Claude Evans, who was then the university chaplain at Southern Methodist University,…" 23/
"started one of those clergy consultation groups in Dallas. In the ’60s, there were a lot of young women on campuses like SMU who were asking for help, so I think these clergymen began to see it as their Christian duty to hear their stories." 24/
"Many university chaplains, like Evans, became sympathetic to the plight of young women who became pregnant when they did not want to be. Evans eventually asked if I would consider providing abortion services." 25/
"The referral process in those days was like an underground railroad. Everything went through the ministers — the clergymen in the consultation group. They set up the appointment, the woman came, and then she was not to come back to me." 26/
" If she had a problem, the ministers took care of it. People don’t realize — these ministers were so fabulous. They did everything they could to make this service available, to work toward getting it legalized, and to take care of me as best they could." 27/
"The reason I was moved to provide abortions was to achieve women their rightful place in society — one of respect and equality. When you have a legislature taking over your body when you become pregnant, suddenly you’re relegated to a second-class citizenship." 28/
"Whether you think abortion is wrong is irrelevant. Whether you think the woman may not be making the best decisions is irrelevant. It’s her life, her body, and she gets to make the decision, not you. That’s the reason I do this work. I’ll retire when I die." 29/
"“My mother was born in 1899 and passed away in 1932, just a few days before her thirty-third birthday. She bled to death after an illegal abortion, leaving six motherless children who needed her desperately. I was the oldest, twelve, and the youngest was only two…." 30/
"My mother had had several abortions before the one that ended her life. My aunt, her sister, told me about this man in our town who did abortions. I remember the 1932 abortion like it was yesterday. That evening I had gone to babysit for a family who lived two blocks…" 31/
"from our house. My mother had gone to bed early, saying she didn’t feel well. The next morning my dad came to the neighbors’ to get me. He was cold sober and looked scared. When we got home – as I said, I was only two blocks away – an ambulance was there and…" 32/
"they were carrying my mother out on a stretcher. But it was too late. She was gone. My aunts on my dad’s side came over and stayed with us that first night. I slept in the middle of my parents’ double bed, between my two aunts." 33/
"When I got up in the morning I could see there was a lot of blood on the bed. It was her blood!" A child slept in the blood of the hemorrhage that took her mother's life because abortion wasn't legal. Let that sink in. 34/…
"I had… no knowledge of this woman’s medical competence, but I sure wasn’t going to ask. I didn’t care. That isn’t exactly true. I cared a lot. I had two small children at home. I didn’t want to die and leave them alone with a brutal father. But I didn’t have a choice." 35/
"North Carolina was ahead of the curve. It was quite a progressive state back then, and NC laws were liberalized several years before Roe v. Wade… I began providing abortions as a fourth-year med student in 1972 and continued throughout my career." 36/…
"It was very apparent to anybody with an open eye and an open mind that this [abortion] is just a fundamental part of women’s health care and couldn’t just be avoided." 37/
"…physicians just could not accept the carnage that we witnessed. It’s important to remember that there were two groups that fundamentally drove the legislative process in the 1960s and early 1970s toward liberalization. One was the clergy,…" 38/
"because they had to deal with these women in crisis and oftentimes would assist with referrals to safe providers, and then physicians [who] were left to deal with the women who were damaged or killed by [illegal] abortion." 39/
"I got called down to emergency department to a see a young woman, a coed from on campus, who was in septic shock. She had virtually no blood pressure. On examination, I found a dead fetal foot protruding through her cervix at about 17 weeks of pregnancy… We saved her life." 40/
"I made several trips to Bangladesh and had the chance to visit a number of hospitals, and I would see wards filled with women dying needlessly from abortion. All we had to offer them was oral antibiotics [because] they didn’t have the surgical techniques to enter the uterus." 41
"So I saw entire wards of doomed women [from illegal abortions].

"For a young physician to encounter those kinds of horrors changes you irrevocably, and you will make a vow to yourself, 'Never, never will I allow that to any woman I could care for.'" 42/
"When it comes to abortion, the earlier, the better — that is, it’s safer, more comfortable and more convenient. Any delay — whether it be administrative, financial, regulatory — serves to increase the risk and expense to the woman." 43/
"One of the group's [Jane Collective] founders had an abortion during a time when it could be performed only if pregnancy endangered a woman's life. She barely got doctors and hospital officials to sign off on hers, even though she had cancer." 44/…
"But another aspect of the process troubled her too.

"'Through that whole experience, there wasn't one woman involved. It was men — the doctors, the hospital board — controlling my reproductive rights and condemning me to death.'" 45/
"Jane Collective began as a referral service, putting pregnant women in touch with reliable abortionists. By the time it closed, female members of the collective were trained to perform abortions… their skills were attested to by a doctor." 46/
"The Jane Collective had a different take on pregnancy: The only non-normal thing about it were laws that denied access to birth control and abortion, thus robbing a woman of choice. It wasn't until 1965 that the Supreme Court overturned a Connecticut law that made it a…" 47/
"crime for a [married] woman to use birth control devices, or to ask a doctor to prescribe them."

It wasn't until 1972, one year before Roe v Wade, that unmarried women nationally were given legal access to birth control by SCOTUS decision. 48/
Condoms had been available for a long time, but were generally sold by pharmacists who would refuse sale to anyone other than married men. Hormonal birth control was still high dose and risky, but at least it was effective for those who could get it. 49/
"We are for every woman having exactly as many children as she wants, when she wants, if she wants," Jane's founders proclaimed. "It's time that the Bill of Rights applied to women." 50/
As police and prosecutors stepped up their enforcement in the 1940s and 1950s, they pushed good, safe abortion providers out of practice. As a result, abortion got more deadly. Many women who went to illegal abortionists were blindfolded…" 51/…
"and had abortions in secret places. Many survived, but some died and many more were seriously injured."

We sometimes talk about deaths from illegal abortions, but rarely the injuries, of which there were many more. It was not uncommon for a botched abortion to perforate… 52/
the uterus, or sometimes the cervical neck or vaginal wall. Women were rendered infertile, doomed to decades of very painful menstruation, even put into comas by errors during illegal abortions. Legal abortions in the US have averaged about 1 death every 2 years, much safer. 53/
In the years just before Roe v Wade, better training & access to antibiotics had dropped the number of admissions to Chicago/Cook County hospital septic wards from 15,000 per year to 5,000. 54/
"Deaths due to illegal abortion [in the 1960s] approached 50 percent of the nation's total maternal mortality, according to a U.S. Department of Labor study entitled, 'Maternal Mortality in Fifteen States.'" 55/
"In countries where abortion is illegal today, 25 percent to 50 percent of all maternal mortality is due to illegal abortion.

"Those deaths are preventable."

Where abortion is legal, hospital septic wards are essentially nonexistent, because they're not needed. 56/
"If abortion becomes illegal again (or so hard to get that it is essentially illegal), abortion-related injuries and deaths are likely to be especially high among poor women and African-American and Latina women, who can't afford to travel to pro-choice states." 57/
"In the 1960s, researchers from Princeton University estimated that almost one in three Americans (32%) who wanted no more children were likely to have at least one unintended pregnancy before the end of their childbearing years;…" 58/
"more than six in 10 Americans (62%) wanting children at some point in the future were likely to have experienced at least one unintended pregnancy." 59/…
"Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. One analysis, extrapolating from data from North Carolina, concluded that an estimated 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions occurred in 1967." 60/
" A study of low-income women in New York City in the 1960s found that almost one in 10 (8%) had ever attempted to terminate a pregnancy by illegal abortion; almost four in 10 (38%) said that a friend, relative or acquaintance had attempted to obtain an abortion." 61/
"Of the low-income women in that study who said they had had an abortion, eight in 10 (77%) said that they had attempted a self-induced procedure, with only 2% saying that a physician had been involved in any way." 62/
"In 1962 alone, nearly 1,600 women were admitted to Harlem Hospital Center in New York City for incomplete abortions, which was one abortion-related hospital admission for every 42 deliveries at that hospital that year." 63/
"In 1968, the University of Southern California Los Angeles County Medical Center, another large public facility serving primarily indigent patients, admitted 701 women with septic abortions, one admission for every 14 deliveries." 64/
"In New York City in the early 1960s, one in four childbirth-related deaths among white women was due to abortion; in comparison, abortion accounted for one in two childbirth-related deaths among nonwhite and Puerto Rican women." 65/
"…from 1972 to 1974, the mortality rate due to illegal abortion for nonwhite women was 12 times that for white women."

It's no accident that women have less wealth than men & women of color have less wealth than white women, higher birth & mortality rates. 66/
"One study of the 2,775 so-called therapeutic abortions at private, not-for-profit hospitals in New York City between 1951 and 1962 found that 88% were to patients of private physicians, rather than [lower income] ward patients served by the hospital staff." 67/
In 1972, "just over 100,000 women left their own state to obtain a legal abortion in New York City… an estimated 50,000 women traveled more than 500 miles to obtain a legal abortion in NYC; nearly 7,000 women traveled >1,000 miles & some 250 traveled >2,000 miles." 68/
"While eight in 10 nonresidents obtaining abortions in the city between July 1971 & July 1972 were white, seven in 10 city residents who underwent the procedure during that time were nonwhite." This corresponds to the much higher # of women of color attempting home abortion. 69/
Delays can cause complications. "No more than 10% of New York City residents who had an abortion in the city in 1972 did so after the 12th week of pregnancy; in contrast, 23% of women from nonneighboring states who had an abortion in New York City did so after the 12th week." 70/
The text of the decision in Roe v Wade is thoroughly educational in abortion through history. Abortion is far from a modern invention, though much of the objection to it is very modern. Traditionally, abortions before "quickening" were non-events legally.…
If a conservative SCOTUS were to overturn Roe v Wade, it's unlikely that the death rate of illegal abortions would approach that from earlier decades because we now have pharmaceutical abortions which are the majority in some states. Pills easily cross state lines. 72/
We know from states where many clinics have shut down due to TRAP laws and where other regulatory obstacles to abortion have been put in place that people will resort to all the old methods of home & "back alley" abortions when they can't get them legally. 73/
Abortion rights groups estimate that from 17 to 22 states could have abortion banned, or allowed only to save the life of the pregnant person, immediately upon repeal of Roe v Wade. Check your state's laws & lobby for a law protecting access if you don't have one yet. 74/
We know how to effectively prevent abortion, because we've seen it work in other countries. Ensuring medically accurate sex & relationship education is priority one. Ensuring access to effective birth control at no cost for anyone in need is next. 75/
Ensuring medical, social & financial support for all parents is the 3rd key ingredient to effectively preventing abortions. Most abortions are for financial reasons (though there are many others), so ensuring existing family won't struggle to meet needs gives people security. 76/
The one thing that doesn't reduce abortions is making them illegal. All that does is make them less safe and more likely to occur later in pregnancy. It's the last thing you want to do if you actually want to prevent abortions. 77/
The US has been in an ongoing crisis for 18 months, and yesterday it just got immeasurably worse. We won't know the impact until probably next June, when the next round of SCOTUS decisions start being published. 78/
It's tempting to give in to the feelings of overwhelm, but there are things you can do right now to make a difference.
1 Lobby your senators not to confirm any judicial nominees until the next Congress is seated in January. 79/
2 Lobby your state legislators, candidates, and governor/governor candidates to protect abortion rights in your state.
3 Donate to groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood which fight to protect abortion rights.
4 Ask your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same.
5 If you can reach people of wealth or influence, ask them to do everything they can to secure abortion rights or provide access to abortion. They can fund travel networks enabling women to access abortion out of state or boats providing offshore service as in S. America. 81/
Above all, don't give up. Sometimes the pendulum swings backward, but we've always been able to push it back before. There's no reason to believe we won't this time. 82/
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for what you do to change the world.
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