Medication Abortion Through the Years

Abortion is as old as pregnancy itself and so as long as people have been getting pregnant there have been people who didn’t want to be pregnant. PROTESTER: Without this basic right, women can’t be free. Abortion on demand and without apology. NARRATOR: Abortion wasn’t always the heated debate it is today. In the early 1800s, the self-managed abortion was perfectly legal. DIAZ-TELLO: Abortion was, in a way, sort of an open secret. and so you could open a penny newspaper here in New York City and see advertisements for remedies to bring the menses and for womanly ailments. All these things were thinly shrouded terminology for abortion. The American Medical Association only began protesting the legality of abortion in 1857. In 1869 the Catholic Church condemned the practice and abortion started to become increasingly politicised. By 1880, abortion was criminalized throughout the U.S. DIAZ-TELLO: Criminalization leads to fear, it leads to desperation. Criminalization is what makes self-managed abortion potentially dangerous. NARRATOR: In 1973, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision ruled that criminalizing abortion providers and restricting access to abortion was unconstitutional. Today, self-managed abortions are safer than ever due to more modern methods, such as the abortion pill. But abortion continues to be perceived as dangerous by wider society. Women may still face criminal charges for self-managing their own abortion. NEWS ANCHOR: The vote in Alabama to essentially outlaw abortion in that state has sparked immediate reaction, protesters evoking The Handmaid’s Tale are surrounding the state house. NEWS ANCHOR: Supporters voted in favor of the bill hoping it will eventually reach the Supreme Court and help overturn Roe v. Wade. DIAZ-TELLO: The decision for our society to make is how are we going to respond to that? Are we going to respond to it with criminalization and increasing shame and stigma and fear? Or are we going to help people get the healthcare they need to live full and happy lives?