Geoffrey R. Stone on Roe—Past, Present, and Future

Here’s What Life Was Like for American Women in America Before ‘Roe v. Wade’

As we approach the prospect of a Supreme Court including five justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, it is essential that we not forget the world as it existed before 1973. So let me bring just a bit of that reality back to life.

In the years leading up to Roe, more than 1 million women each year, facing the crisis of an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy, found it necessary to resort to illegal abortions. The vast majority of these women turned either to dangerous self-induced abortions or to the dark and often forbidding underworld of “back-alley” abortions.

Women who resorted to self-induced abortions typically relied on such methods as throwing themselves down a flight of stairs or ingesting, douching with, or inserting into themselves a chilling variety of chemicals and toxins ranging from bleach to potassium permanganate to turpentine to gunpowder to whiskey. Knitting needles, crochet hooks, scissors, and coat hangers were among the tools commonly used by women who attempted to self-abort. Approximately 30 percent of all illegal abortions in the 1960s were self-induced.

Read more at Daily Beast