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History of abortion

History of abortion

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The practice of abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, the termination of a pregnancy
Pregnancy
Pregnancy refers to the fertilization and development of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, in a woman's uterus. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets...

 so that it does not result in birth
Birth
Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring. The offspring is brought forth from the mother. The time of human birth is defined as the time at which the fetus comes out of the mother's womb into the world...

, dates back to ancient times. Pregnancies were terminated through a number of methods, including the administration of abortifacient
Abortifacient
An abortifacient is a substance that induces abortion. Abortifacients for animals that have mated undesirably are known as mismating shots....

 herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other techniques.

Abortion law
Abortion law
Abortion law is legislation and common law which pertains to the provision of abortion. Abortion has been a controversial subject in many societies through history because of the moral, ethical, practical, and political power issues that surround it. It has been banned frequently and otherwise...

s and their enforcement have fluctuated through various eras. In many western nations
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 during the 20th century various women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 groups, doctors, and social reformers successfully worked to have abortion bans repealed. While abortion remains legal in most of the West, this legality is regularly challenged by pro-life
Pro-life
Opposition to the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-life, or anti-abortion, movement, a social and political movement opposing elective abortion on moral grounds and supporting its legal prohibition or restriction...

 groups.

Prehistory to 5th century


The first recorded evidence of induced abortion, is from the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus in 1550 BCE. A Chinese record documents the number of royal concubines who had abortions in China between the years 515 and 500 BCE. According to Chinese folklore
Chinese folklore
Chinese folklore includes songs, dances, puppetry, and tales. It often tells stories of human nature, historical or legendary events, love, and the supernatural, or stories explaining natural phenomena and distinctive landmarks.-Folktales:...

, the legendary Emperor Shennong
Shennong
Shennong , which names mean "Divine Farmer", but also known as the Emperor of the Five Grains , was a legendary ruler of China and culture hero reputed to have lived some 5,000 years ago...

 prescribed the use of mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

 to induce abortions nearly 5000 years ago.
Many of the methods employed in early and primitive culture
Primitive culture
In older anthropology texts and discussions, the term "primitive culture" is used to refer to a society that is believed to lack cultural, technological, or economic sophistication/development...

s were non-surgical. Physical activities like strenuous labor, climbing
Climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...

, paddling, weightlifting
Weight training
Weight training is a common type of strength training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It uses the weight force of gravity to oppose the force generated by muscle through concentric or eccentric contraction...

, or diving
Diving
Diving is the sport of jumping or falling into water from a platform or springboard, sometimes while performing acrobatics. Diving is an internationally-recognized sport that is part of the Olympic Games. In addition, unstructured and non-competitive diving is a recreational pastime.Diving is one...

 were a common technique. Others included the use of irritant leaves, fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

, bloodletting
Bloodletting
Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often little quantities of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors" the proper balance of which maintained health...

, pouring hot water onto the abdomen, and lying on a heated coconut shell
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

. In primitive cultures, techniques developed through observation, adaptation of obstetrical methods, and transculturation
Transculturation
Transculturation is a term coined by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz in 1940 to describe the phenomenon of merging and converging cultures....

. Archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 discoveries indicate early surgical
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 attempts at the extraction of a fetus
Fetus
A fetus is a developing mammal or other viviparous vertebrate after the embryonic stage and before birth.In humans, the fetal stage of prenatal development starts at the beginning of the 11th week in gestational age, which is the 9th week after fertilization.-Etymology and spelling variations:The...

; however, such methods are not believed to have been common, given the infrequency with which they are mentioned in ancient medical texts.
Aristotle

In Aristotle's view, abortion, if performed early, was not the killing of something human, and Aristotle would permit abortion if the birth rate was too high, but only at a stage before life and sense had begun in the embryo. Aristotle considered the embryo to gain a human soul
Ensoulment
Ensoulment, in theology, refers to the moment at which a human being gains a soul, whether newly created within a developing fetus or pre-existing and added at a particular stage of development....

 at 40 days if male and 90 days if female; before that, it had vegetable and animal souls.
Hippocratic Oath

The Oath
Hippocratic Oath
The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals swearing to practice medicine ethically. It is widely believed to have been written by Hippocrates, often regarded as the father of western medicine, or by one of his students. The oath is written in...

 is part of the Hippocratic Corpus
Text corpus
In linguistics, a corpus or text corpus is a large and structured set of texts...

. Often ascribed to Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

, the Greek physician, the Corpus is believed to be the collective work of Hippocratic practitioners. The Oath forbids the use of pessaries
Pessary
A pessary is a small plastic or silicone medical device which is inserted into the vagina or rectum and held in place by the pelvic floor musculature. - Therapeutic pessaries :...

 (vaginal suppositories) to induce abortion. Modern scholarship suggests that pessaries were banned because they were reported to cause vaginal ulcers. This specific prohibition has been interpreted by some medical scholars as prohibiting abortion in a broader sense than by pessary. One such interpretation is by Scribonius Largus, a Roman medical writer: "Hippocrates, who founded our profession, laid the foundation for our discipline by an oath in which it was proscribed not to give a pregnant woman a kind of medicine that expels the embryo/fetus." Other medical scholars disagree, believing that Hippocrates sought to discourage physicians from trying dangerous methods to abort a fetus.

Regardless of the Oath's interpretation, Hippocrates writes of advising a prostitute who became pregnant to jump up and down, touching her buttocks with her heels at each leap, so as to induce miscarriage. Other writings attributed to him describe instruments fashioned to dilate the cervix
Cervix
The cervix is the lower, narrow portion of the uterus where it joins with the top end of the vagina. It is cylindrical or conical in shape and protrudes through the upper anterior vaginal wall...

 and curette
Curette
A curette is a surgical instrument designed for scraping biological tissue or debris in a biopsy, excision, or cleaning procedure. In form, the curette is a small hand tool, often similar in shape to a stylus; at the tip of the curette is a small scoop, hook, or gouge...

 inside of the uterus
Uterus
The uterus or womb is a major female hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals including humans. One end, the cervix, opens into the vagina, while the other is connected to one or both fallopian tubes, depending on the species...

.
Soranus' Gynecology

Soranus
Soranus (Greek physician)
Soranus was a Greek physician from Ephesus. He practiced in Alexandria and subsequently in Rome, and was one of the chief representatives of the Methodic school of medicine...

, a 2nd century Greek physician, recommended abortion in cases involving health complications as well as emotional immaturity, and provided detailed suggestions in his work Gynecology. Diuretic
Diuretic
A diuretic provides a means of forced diuresis which elevates the rate of urination. There are several categories of diuretics. All diuretics increase the excretion of water from bodies, although each class does so in a distinct way.- Medical uses :...

s, emmenagogue
Emmenagogue
Emmenagogues are herbs which stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus; some stimulate menstruation. Women have used plants such as mugwort, parsley and ginger to prevent or terminate early pregnancy...

s, enemas, fasting, and bloodletting were prescribed as safe abortion methods, although Soranus advised against the use of sharp instruments to induce miscarriage, due to the risk of organ perforation
Perforation
A perforation is a small hole in a thin material or web. There is usually more than one perforation in an organized fashion, where all of the holes are called a perforation...

. He also advised women wishing to abort their pregnancies to engage in energetic walking, carrying heavy objects, riding animals, and jumping so that the woman's heels were to touch her buttocks with each jump, which he described as the "Lacedaemonian Leap".
Natural abortifacients

Soranus offered a number of recipes for herbal bathes, rubs, and pessaries
Pessary
A pessary is a small plastic or silicone medical device which is inserted into the vagina or rectum and held in place by the pelvic floor musculature. - Therapeutic pessaries :...

. In De Materia Medica Libri Quinque
Materia medica
Materia medica is a Latin medical term for the body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing . The term 'materia medica' derived from the title of a work by the Ancient Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century AD, De materia medica libre...

,
the Greek pharmacologist Dioscorides
Pedanius Dioscorides
Pedanius Dioscorides was a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, the author of a 5-volume encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances , that was widely read for more than 1,500 years.-Life:...

 listed the ingredients of a draught called "abortion wine"– hellebore
Hellebore
Commonly known as hellebores, members of the genus Helleborus comprise approximately 20 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, within which it gave its name to the tribe of Helleboreae...

, squirting cucumber
Cucurbitaceae
The plant family Cucurbitaceae consists of various squashes, melons, and gourds, including crops such as cucumber, pumpkins, luffas, and watermelons...

, and scammony
Scammony
Scammony is a bindweed native to the countries of the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin; it grows in bushy waste places, from Syria in the south to the Crimea in the north, its range extending westward to the Greek islands, but not to northern Africa or Italy.It is a twining perennial,...

– but failed to provide the precise manner in which it was to be prepared. Hellebore, in particular, is known to be abortifacient
Abortifacient
An abortifacient is a substance that induces abortion. Abortifacients for animals that have mated undesirably are known as mismating shots....

.

Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 cited the refined oil of common rue
Common Rue
The Common Rue , also known as Herb-of-Grace, is a species of rue grown as a herb. It is native to the Balkan Peninsula, southeastern Europe. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, especially because of its bluish leaves, and also sometimes for its tolerance of hot and dry soil...

 as a potent abortifacient. Serenus Sammonicus
Serenus Sammonicus
Quintus Sammonicus Serenus was a Roman savant, tutor to Geta and Caracalla who became fatally involved in politics, and an author of a didactic medical poem, Liber Medicinalis , probably incomplete in the form in which we have it, as well as many lost works...

 wrote of a concoction which consisted of rue, egg
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

, and dill
Dill
Dill is a perennial herb. It is the sole species of the genus Anethum, though classified by some botanists in a related genus as Peucedanum graveolens C.B.Clarke.-Growth:...

. Soranus, Dioscorides, Oribasius
Oribasius
Oribasius or Oreibasius was a Greek medical writer and the personal physician of the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate. He studied at Alexandria under physician Zeno of Cyprus before joining Julian's retinue. He was involved in Julian's coronation in 361, and remained with the emperor until...

 also detailed this application of the plant. Modern scientific studies have confirmed that rue indeed contains three abortive compounds.

Birthwort
Aristolochia
Aristolochia is a large plant genus with over 500 species. Collectively known as birthworts, pipevines or Dutchman's pipes, they are the namesake of the family . They are widespread and occur in the most diverse climates. Some species, like A. utriformis and A...

, an herb used to ease childbirth
Childbirth
Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

, was also used to induce abortion. Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

 included it in a potion formula in de Antidotis, while Dioscorides said it could be administered by mouth, or in the form of a vagina
Vagina
The vagina is a fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body in female placental mammals and marsupials, or to the cloaca in female birds, monotremes, and some reptiles. Female insects and other invertebrates also have a vagina, which is the terminal part of the...

l pessary also containing pepper
Black pepper
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed...

 and myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

.

The seeds of Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota), also known as wild carrot, have been in use as a post-coital agent for centuries.
Roman Law

Paulus wrote in his Sentences that "those who administer a beverage for the purpose of producing abortion, or of causing affection, although they may not do so with malicious intent, still, because the act offers a bad example, shall, if of humble rank, be sent to the mines; or, if higher in degree, shall be relegated to an island, with the loss of a portion of their property. If a man or a woman should lose his or her life through such an act, the guilty party shall undergo the extreme penalty." And also Ulpian, as it appears in the Digest regarding to the instutition of curator ventris (protector of the womb): "An unborn child is considered being born, as far as it concerns his profits".

Suzanne Dixon, a senior lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland, writes that abortion was a threat to traditional power structures in the classical Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 world. A husband had power over his wife, her body, and their children. She explains that writings from the classical world portray abortion as expressions of an ideological agenda where men maintain or reestablish patterns of power between the sexes, not as information about historical realities. Punishment for abortion in the Roman Republic was inflicted as a violation of the father's right to dispose of his offspring. Because of the influence of Stoicism, which did not view the fetus as a person, the Romans did not punish abortion as homicide.
Christian texts

Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, a 2nd and 3rd century Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 theologian
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, also described surgical implements which were used in a procedure similar to the modern dilation and evacuation
Dilation and evacuation
Dilation and evacuation literally refers to the dilation of the cervix and surgical evacuation of the contents of the uterus...

. One tool had a "nicely-adjusted flexible frame" used for dilation, an "annular blade" used to curette, and a "blunted or covered hook" used for extraction. The other was a "copper needle or spike". He attributed ownership of such items to Hippocrates, Asclepiades
Asclepiades of Bithynia
Asclepiades was a Greek physician born at Prusa in Bithynia in Asia Minor and flourished at Rome, where he established Greek medicine near the end of the 2nd century BCE. He attempted to build a new theory of disease, based on the flow of atoms through pores in the body...

, Erasistratus
Erasistratus
Erasistratus was a Greek anatomist and royal physician under Seleucus I Nicator of Syria. Along with fellow physician Herophilus, he founded a school of anatomy in Alexandria, where they carried out anatomical research...

, Herophilus, and Soranus
Soranus (Greek physician)
Soranus was a Greek physician from Ephesus. He practiced in Alexandria and subsequently in Rome, and was one of the chief representatives of the Methodic school of medicine...

.

Tertullian's description is prefaced as being used in cases in which abnormal positioning
Pelvimetry
Pelvimetry is the assessment of the female pelvis in relation to the birth of a baby. Traditional obstetrical services relied heavily on pelvimetry in the conduct of delivery in order to decide if natural or operative vaginal delivery was possible or if and when to use a cesarean...

 of the fetus in the womb would endanger the life of the pregnant women. Saint Augustine, in Enchiridion
Enchiridion of Augustine
The Enchiridion, Manual, or Handbook of Augustine of Hippo is alternatively titled, "Faith, Hope, and Love". The Enchiridion is a compact treatise on Christian piety, written in response to a request by an otherwise unknown person, named Laurentius, shortly after the death of Saint Jerome in 420...

, makes passing mention of surgical procedures being performed to remove fetuses which have expired in utero
Perinatal mortality
Perinatal mortality , also perinatal death, refers to the death of a fetus or neonate and is the basis to calculate the perinatal mortality rate. Variations in the precise definition of the perinatal mortality exist specifically concerning the issue of inclusion or exclusion of early fetal and...

. Aulus Cornelius Celsus
Aulus Cornelius Celsus
Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a Roman encyclopedist, known for his extant medical work, De Medicina, which is believed to be the only surviving section of a much larger encyclopedia. The De Medicina is a primary source on diet, pharmacy, surgery and related fields, and it is one of the best sources...

, a 1st century Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 encyclopedist, offers an extremely detailed account of a procedure to extract an already dead fetus in his only surviving work, De Medicina.

In Book 9 of Refutation of all Heresies
Refutation of all Heresies
The Refutation of All Heresies or Philosophumena is a compendious Christian polemical work of the early third century, now generally attributed to Hippolytus of Rome. Most of it was recovered in 1842 in a manuscript at Mount Athos, but the complete text is not known...

, Hippolytus of Rome, another Christian theologian of the 3rd century, wrote of women tightly binding themselves around the middle so as to "expel what was being conceived."

5th century to 18th century



An 8th century Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 text instructs women wishing to induce an abortion to sit over a pot of steam or stewed onion
Onion
The onion , also known as the bulb onion, common onion and garden onion, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion The onion...

s.

The technique of massage
Massage
Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. The word comes from the French massage "friction of kneading", or from Arabic massa meaning "to touch, feel or handle"...

 abortion, involving the application of pressure to the pregnant abdomen
Abdomen
In vertebrates such as mammals the abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the thorax and pelvis. The region enclosed by the abdomen is termed the abdominal cavity...

, has been practiced in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 for centuries. One of the bas reliefs decorating the temple of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu,...

 in Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, dated , depicts a demon
Demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

 performing such an abortion upon a woman who has been sent to the underworld
Underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

.

Japanese documents show records of induced abortion from as early as the 12th century. It became much more prevalent during the Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

, especially among the peasant class, who were hit hardest by the recurrent famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

s and high taxation of the age. Statue
Statue
A statue is a sculpture in the round representing a person or persons, an animal, an idea or an event, normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger...

s of the Boddhisattva Jizo
Ksitigarbha
Ksitigarbha is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism, usually depicted as a Buddhist monk in the Orient. The name may be translated as "Earth Treasury", "Earth Store", "Earth Matrix", or "Earth Womb"...

, erected in memory of an abortion, miscarriage
Miscarriage
Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or fetus is incapable of surviving independently, generally defined in humans at prior to 20 weeks of gestation...

, stillbirth
Stillbirth
A stillbirth occurs when a fetus has died in the uterus. The Australian definition specifies that fetal death is termed a stillbirth after 20 weeks gestation or the fetus weighs more than . Once the fetus has died the mother still has contractions and remains undelivered. The term is often used in...

, or young childhood death, began appearing at least as early as 1710 at a temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

 in Yokohama
Yokohama
is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan by population after Tokyo and most populous municipality of Japan. It lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo, in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshu...

 (see religion and abortion
Religion and abortion
Many religious traditions have taken a stance on abortion, and these stances span a broad spectrum as highlighted below.-Buddhism:There is no single Buddhist view concerning abortion. Traditional sources, such as the Buddhist monastic code, hold that life begins at conception and that abortion,...

).

Physical means of inducing abortion, such as battery
Battery (crime)
Battery is a criminal offense involving unlawful physical contact, distinct from assault which is the fear of such contact.In the United States, criminal battery, or simply battery, is the use of force against another, resulting in harmful or offensive contact...

, exercise
Physical exercise
Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, as well as for the purpose of...

, and tightening the girdle
Girdle
A girdle is a garment that encircles the lower torso, perhaps extending below the hips, and worn often for support. The word girdle originally meant a belt. In modern English, the term girdle is most commonly used for a form of women's foundation wear that replaced the corset in popularity...

– special bands were sometimes worn in pregnancy to support the belly– were reported among English women during the early modern period.

Māori, who lived in New Zealand before and at the time of colonisation
History of New Zealand
The history of New Zealand dates back at least 700 years to when it was discovered and settled by Polynesians, who developed a distinct Māori culture centred on kinship links and land. The first European explorer to discover New Zealand was Abel Janszoon Tasman on 13 December 1642...

, terminated pregnancies via miscarriage-inducing drugs, ceremonial methods, and girding of the abdomen with a restrictive belt
Belt (clothing)
A belt is a flexible band or strap, typically made of leather or heavy cloth, and worn around the waist. A belt supports trousers or other articles of clothing.-History:...

. Another source claims that the Māori people did not practice abortion, for fear of Makutu
Makutu
Mākutu is a New Zealand Māori word meaning witchcraft, sorcery, to bewitch; also a spell or incantation. It may also be described as a belief in malignant occult powers possessed by certain people....

, but did attempt abortion through the artificial induction
Induction (birth)
Labor induction is a method of artificially or prematurely stimulating childbirth in a woman.-Indications:Common suggested reasons for induction include:* Postterm pregnancy, i.e. if the pregnancy has gone past the 42 week mark....

 of premature labor.

Natural abortifacients



Botanical preparation
Herbalism
Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, herblore, and phytotherapy...

s reputed to be abortifacient were common in classical literature
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 and folk medicine
Folk medicine
-Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

. Such folk remedies, however, varied in effectiveness
Efficacy
Efficacy is the capacity to produce an effect. It has different specific meanings in different fields. In medicine, it is the ability of an intervention or drug to reproduce a desired effect in expert hands and under ideal circumstances.- Healthcare :...

 and were not without the risk of adverse effects
Adverse effect (medicine)
In medicine, an adverse effect is a harmful and undesired effect resulting from a medication or other intervention such as surgery.An adverse effect may be termed a "side effect", when judged to be secondary to a main or therapeutic effect. If it results from an unsuitable or incorrect dosage or...

. Some of the herb
Herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

s used at times to terminate pregnancy are poison
Poison
In the context of biology, poisons are substances that can cause disturbances to organisms, usually by chemical reaction or other activity on the molecular scale, when a sufficient quantity is absorbed by an organism....

ous.

A list of plants which cause abortion was provided in De viribus herbarum, an 11th-century herbal
Herbal
AThe use of a or an depends on whether or not herbal is pronounced with a silent h. herbal is "a collection of descriptions of plants put together for medicinal purposes." Expressed more elaborately — it is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their...

 written in the form of a poem, the authorship of which is incorrectly attributed to Aemilius Macer
Aemilius Macer
Aemilius Macer of Verona was a Roman didactic poet. He authored two poems, one on birds and the other on the antidotes against the poison of serpents , which he imitated from the Greek poet Nicander of Colophon. According to Jerome, he died in 16 BC. It is possible that he wrote also a botanical...

. Among them were rue, Italian catnip
Nepeta
Nepeta is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. The members of this group are known as catnip or catmint because of their effect on cats—the nepetalactone contained in nepeta binds to the olfactory receptors of cats, typically resulting in temporary euphoria...

, savory
Savory (herb)
Satureja is a genus of aromatic plants of the family Lamiaceae, related to rosemary and thyme. There are about 30 species called savories, of which Summer savory and Winter savory are the most important in cultivation.-Description:...

, sage
Common sage
Salvia officinalis is a small, perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world...

, soapwort
Soapwort
Common Soapwort is a vespertine flower, and a common perennial plant from the carnation family . Other common names are Bouncing Bet and Sweet William; locally it is simply "the Soapwort" although there are about 20 species of soapworts altogether.The scientific name Saponaria is derived from the...

, cyperus
Cyperus
Cyperus is a large genus of about 600 species of sedges, distributed throughout all continents in both tropical and temperate regions. They are annual or perennial plants, mostly aquatic and growing in still or slow-moving water up to 0.5 m deep. The species vary greatly in size, with small species...

, white and black hellebore, and pennyroyal
Pennyroyal
Pennyroyal refers to two plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. For the American species, see American pennyroyal. The European pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium, , is a plant in the mint genus, within the family Lamiaceae. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves exhibit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint...

.

King's American Dispensatory
King's American Dispensatory
King's American Dispensatory is a book first published in 1854 that covers the uses of herbs used in American medical practice, especially by those involved in Eclectic medicine which was the botanical school of medicine in the 19th to 20th centuries...

of 1898 recommended a mixture of brewer's yeast and pennyroyal tea as "a safe and certain abortive". Pennyroyal has been known to cause complications when used as an abortifacient. In 1978 a pregnant woman from Colorado died after consuming 2 tablespoon
Tablespoon
A tablespoon is a type of large spoon usually used for serving. A tablespoonful, the capacity of one tablespoon, is commonly used as a measure of volume in cooking...

fuls of pennyroyal essential oil
Essential oil
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove...

 which is known to be toxic
Toxicity
Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage a living or non-living organisms. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such as an animal, bacterium, or plant, as well as the effect on a substructure of the organism, such as a cell or an organ , such as the liver...

. In 1994 a pregnant woman, unaware of an ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis , is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity. With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable. Furthermore, they are dangerous for the parent, since internal haemorrhage is a life threatening complication...

 that needed immediate medical care, drank a tea containing pennyroyal extract
Concentrate
A concentrate is a form of substance which has had the majority of its base component removed. Typically this will be the removal of water from a solution or suspension such as the removal of water from fruit juice...

 to induce abortion without medical help. She later died as a result of the untreated ectopic pregnancy, mistaking the symptoms for the abortifacient working.

Tansy
Tansy
Tansy is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant of the aster family, native to temperate Europe and Asia. It has been introduced to other parts of the world and in some areas has become invasive...

 has been used to terminate pregnancies since the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. It was first documented as an emmenagogue
Emmenagogue
Emmenagogues are herbs which stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus; some stimulate menstruation. Women have used plants such as mugwort, parsley and ginger to prevent or terminate early pregnancy...

 in St. Hildegard of Bingen's
Hildegard of Bingen
Blessed Hildegard of Bingen , also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and...

 De simplicis medicinae.

A variety of juniper
Juniper
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the...

, known as savin
Juniperus sabina
Juniperus sabina is a species of juniper native to the mountains of central and southern Europe and western and central Asia, from Spain east to eastern Siberia, typically growing at altitudes of 1,000-3,300 m....

, was mentioned frequently in European writings. In one case in England, a rector
Rector
The word rector has a number of different meanings; it is widely used to refer to an academic, religious or political administrator...

 from Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

 was said to have procured it for a woman he had impregnated in 1574; in another, a man wishing to remove his girlfriend of like condition recommended to her that black hellebore
Hellebore
Commonly known as hellebores, members of the genus Helleborus comprise approximately 20 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, within which it gave its name to the tribe of Helleboreae...

 and savin be boiled together and drunk in milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

, or else that chopped madder
Madder
Rubia is a genus of the madder family Rubiaceae, which contains about 60 species of perennial scrambling or climbing herbs and sub-shrubs native to the Old World, Africa, temperate Asia and America...

 be boiled in beer
Beer
Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

. Other substances reputed to have been used by the English include Spanish fly
Spanish fly
The Spanish fly is an emerald-green beetle in the family Meloidae, Lytta vesicatoria. Other species of blister beetle used by apothecaries are often called by the same name...

, opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

, watercress
Watercress
Watercresses are fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plants native from Europe to central Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings...

 seed, iron sulphate
Iron(II) sulfate
Iron sulfate or ferrous sulfate is the chemical compound with the formula FeSO4. Known since ancient times as copperas and as green vitriol, the blue-green heptahydrate is the most common form of this material...

, and iron chloride. Another mixture, not abortifacient, but rather intended to relieve missed abortion, contained dittany
Dictamnus
Dictamnus is a genus of flowering plant in the family Rutaceae, with a single species, Dictamnus albus. It is known variously as Burning-bush, False Dittany, White Dittany, Gas-plant and Fraxinella. It is a perennial herb, native to southern Europe, north Africa and throughout...

, hyssop
Hyssop
Hyssop is a genus of about 10-12 species of herbaceous or semi-woody plants in the family Lamiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to central Asia. They are aromatic, with erect branched stems up to 60 cm long covered with fine hairs at the tips. The leaves are narrow oblong, 2–5 cm...

, and hot water.

The root of worm fern
Dryopteris filix-mas
Dryopteris filix-mas is one of the most common ferns of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, occurring throughout much of Europe, Asia, and North America. It favours damp shaded areas and is common in the understory of woodlands, but is also found in shady places on hedge-banks, rocks, and screes...

, called "prostitute root" in the French, was used in France and Germany; it was also recommended by a Greek physician in the 1st century. In German folk medicine, there was also an abortifacient tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, which included marjoram
Marjoram
Marjoram is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours...

, thyme
Thyme
Thyme is a culinary and medicinal herb of the genus Thymus.-History:Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage...

, parsley
Parsley
Parsley is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae, native to the central Mediterranean region , naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as an herb, a spice and a vegetable.- Description :Garden parsley is a bright green hairless biennial herbaceous plant in temperate...

, and lavender
Lavender
The lavenders are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. An Old World genus, distributed from Macaronesia across Africa, the Mediterranean, South-West Asia, Arabia, Western Iran and South-East India...

. Other preparations of unspecified origin included crushed ant
Ant
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than...

s, the saliva of camel
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

s, and the tail hairs of black-tailed deer
Black-tailed Deer
Two forms of black-tailed deer or blacktail deer occupying coastal temperate rainforest on North America's Pacific coast are subspecies of the mule deer. They have sometimes been treated as a species, but virtually all recent authorities maintain they are subspecies...

 dissolved in the fat of bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

s.

Islamic world



During the medieval period
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

, physicians in the Islamic world documented lists of birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

 practices, including the use of abortifacient
Abortifacient
An abortifacient is a substance that induces abortion. Abortifacients for animals that have mated undesirably are known as mismating shots....

s, commenting on their effectiveness and prevalence.

19th century to present



19th century medicine saw advances in the fields of surgery
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

, anaesthesia, and sanitation
Sanitation
Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems are human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic...

, in the same era that doctors with the American Medical Association
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association , founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1897, is the largest association of medical doctors and medical students in the United States.-Scope and operations:...

 lobbied for bans on abortion in the United States and the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 passed the Offences against the Person Act 1861
Offences Against The Person Act 1861
The Offences against the Person Act 1861 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated provisions related to offences against the person from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act...

.

Various methods of abortion were documented regionally in the 19th century and early 20th century. A paper published in 1870 on the abortion services to be found in Syracuse, New York
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, and its metropolitan area had a population of 742,603...

, concluded that the method most often practiced there during this time was to flush
Douche
A douche is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself.Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity. A douche bag is a piece of...

 inside of the uterus with injected water. The article's author, Ely Van de Warkle, claimed this procedure was affordable even to a maid
Maid
A maidservant or in current usage housemaid or maid is a female employed in domestic service.-Description:Once part of an elaborate hierarchy in great houses, today a single maid may be the only domestic worker that upper and even middle-income households can afford, as was historically the case...

, as a man in town offered it for $10 on an installment plan. Other prices which 19th-century abortion providers are reported to have charged were much more steep. In Great Britain, it could cost from 10 to 50 guinea
Guinea (British coin)
The guinea is a coin that was minted in the Kingdom of England and later in the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom between 1663 and 1813...

s, or 5% of the yearly income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 of a lower middle class
Lower middle class
In developed nations across the world, the lower middle class is a sub-division of the greater middle class. Universally the term refers to the group of middle class households or individuals who have not attained the status of the upper middle class associated with the higher realms of the middle...

 household.

In France during the latter half of the 19th century, social perceptions of abortion started to change. In the first half of the 19th century, abortion was viewed as the last resort for pregnant but unwed women. But as writers began to write about abortion in terms of family planning for married women, the practice of abortion was reconceptualized as a logical solution to unwanted pregnancies resulting from ineffectual contraceptives. The formulation of abortion as a form of family planning for married women was made "thinkable" because both medical and non-medical practitioners agreed on the relative safety of the procedure.

In the United States and England, the latter half of the 19th century saw abortion become increasingly punished. One writer justified this by claiming that the number of abortions among married women had increased markedly since 1840. In the United States, these laws had a limited effect on middle and upper class women who could, though often with great expense and difficulty, still obtain access to abortion, while poor and young women had access only to the most dangerous and illegal methods.

After a rash of unexplained miscarriages in Sheffield
Sheffield
Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough of South Yorkshire, England. Its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and with some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely...

, England, were attributed to lead poisoning
Lead poisoning
Lead poisoning is a medical condition caused by increased levels of the heavy metal lead in the body. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems...

 caused by the metal pipe
Water pipe
Water pipes are pipes or tubes, frequently made of polyvinyl chloride , ductile iron, steel, cast iron, polypropylene, polyethylene, or copper, that carry pressurized and treated fresh water to buildings , as well as inside the building.-History:For many centuries, lead was the favoured material...

s which fed the city's water supply, a woman confessed to having used diachylon — a lead-containing plaster
Plaster
Plaster is a building material used for coating walls and ceilings. Plaster starts as a dry powder similar to mortar or cement and like those materials it is mixed with water to form a paste which liberates heat and then hardens. Unlike mortar and cement, plaster remains quite soft after setting,...

 — as an abortifacient in 1898. Criminal investigation of an abortionist in Calgary, Alberta in 1894 revealed through chemical analysis that the concoction he had supplied to a man seeking an abortifacient contained Spanish fly
Spanish fly
The Spanish fly is an emerald-green beetle in the family Meloidae, Lytta vesicatoria. Other species of blister beetle used by apothecaries are often called by the same name...

.

Women of Jewish descent
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 in Lower East Side, Manhattan
Lower East Side, Manhattan
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 are said to have carried the ancient Indian practice of sitting over a pot of steam into the early 20th century. Dr. Evelyn Fisher wrote of how women living in a mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 town in Wales during the 1920s used candles intended for Roman Catholic ceremonies to dilate the cervix
Cervix
The cervix is the lower, narrow portion of the uterus where it joins with the top end of the vagina. It is cylindrical or conical in shape and protrudes through the upper anterior vaginal wall...

 in an effort to self-induce
Self-induced abortion
A self-induced abortion is an abortion performed by the pregnant woman herself outside the recognized medical system. Although the term can include abortions induced through legal, over-the-counter medication, it also refers to efforts to terminate a pregnancy through alternative, often more...

 abortion. Similarly, the use of candles and other objects, such as glass rods, penholders, curling iron
Hair iron
A hair iron or hair tong is a tool used to change the structure of the hair using heat. There are three general kinds: curling irons, used to make the hair curly, straightening irons, commonly called straighteners or flat irons, used to straighten the hair, and crimping irons, used to create crimps...

s, spoons, sticks, knives, and catheter
Catheter
In medicine, a catheter is a tube that can be inserted into a body cavity, duct, or vessel. Catheters thereby allow drainage, administration of fluids or gases, or access by surgical instruments. The process of inserting a catheter is catheterization...

s was reported during the 19th century in the United States.

Abortion remained a dangerous procedure into the early 20th century; more dangerous than childbirth until about 1930. Of the estimated 150,000 abortions that occurred annually in the US during the early 20th century, one in six resulted in the woman's death.

Advertisement of abortion services



Access to abortion continued, despite bans enacted on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, as the disguised, but nonetheless open, advertisement of abortion services, abortion-inducing devices, and abortifacient medicines in the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 would seem to suggest. Apparent print ads of this nature were found in both the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. A British Medical Journal
British Medical Journal
BMJ is a partially open-access peer-reviewed medical journal. Originally called the British Medical Journal, the title was officially shortened to BMJ in 1988. The journal is published by the BMJ Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association...

 writer who replied to newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 ads peddling relief to women who were "temporarily indisposed" in 1868 found that over half of them were in fact promoting abortion.

A few alleged examples of surreptitiously-marketed abortifacients include "Farrer's Catholic Pills", "Hardy's Woman's Friend", "Dr. Peter's French Renovating Pills", "Lydia Pinkham
Lydia Pinkham
Lydia Estes Pinkham was an iconic concocter and shrewd marketer of a commercially successful herbal-alcoholic "women's tonic" meant to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains.-Biography:...

's Vegetable Compound", and "Madame Drunette's Lunar Pills". Patent medicine
Patent medicine
Patent medicine refers to medical compounds of questionable effectiveness sold under a variety of names and labels. The term "patent medicine" is somewhat of a misnomer because, in most cases, although many of the products were trademarked, they were never patented...

s which claimed to treat "female complaints" often contained such ingredients as pennyroyal
Pennyroyal
Pennyroyal refers to two plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. For the American species, see American pennyroyal. The European pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium, , is a plant in the mint genus, within the family Lamiaceae. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves exhibit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint...

, tansy
Tansy
Tansy is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant of the aster family, native to temperate Europe and Asia. It has been introduced to other parts of the world and in some areas has become invasive...

, and savin
Juniper
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the...

. Abortifacient products were sold under the promise of "restor[ing] female regularity" and "removing from the system every impurity." In the vernacular of such advertising, "irregularity," "obstruction," "menstrual suppression," and "delayed period" were understood to be euphemistic
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 references to the state of pregnancy. As such, some abortifacients were marketed as menstrual regulative
Menstruation
Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining . It occurs on a regular basis in sexually reproductive-age females of certain mammal species. This article focuses on human menstruation.-Overview:...

s. "Old Dr. Gordon's Pearls of Health," produced by a drug company
Pharmaceutical company
The pharmaceutical industry develops, produces, and markets drugs licensed for use as medications. Pharmaceutical companies are allowed to deal in generic and/or brand medications and medical devices...

 in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, "cure[d] all suppressions and irregularities" if "used monthly". However, a few ads explicitly warned against the use of their product by women who were expecting, or listed miscarriage
Miscarriage
Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or fetus is incapable of surviving independently, generally defined in humans at prior to 20 weeks of gestation...

 as its inevitable side effect. The copy for "Dr. Peter's French Renovating Pills" advised, "…pregnant females should not use them, as they invariably produce a miscarriage…", and both "Dr. Monroe's French Periodical Pills" and "Dr. Melveau's Portuguese Female Pills" were "sure to produce a miscarriage". F.E. Karn, a man from Toronto, in 1901 cautioned women who thought themselves pregnant not to use the pill
Pill (pharmacy)
A pill is a small, round, solid pharmaceutical oral dosage form that was in use before the advent of tablets and capsules. Pills were made by mixing the active ingredients with an excipient such as glucose syrup in a mortar and pestle to form a paste, then rolling the mass into a long cylindrical...

s he advertised as "Friar's French Female Regulator" because they would "speedily restore menstrual secretions".

Such advertising did not fail to arouse criticisms of quackery
Quackery
Quackery is a derogatory term used to describe the promotion of unproven or fraudulent medical practices. Random House Dictionary describes a "quack" as a "fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill" or "a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, knowledge, or...

 and immorality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

. The safety of many nostrums was suspect and the efficacy
Efficacy
Efficacy is the capacity to produce an effect. It has different specific meanings in different fields. In medicine, it is the ability of an intervention or drug to reproduce a desired effect in expert hands and under ideal circumstances.- Healthcare :...

 of others non-existent. Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley was an American newspaper editor, a founder of the Liberal Republican Party, a reformer, a politician, and an outspoken opponent of slavery...

, in a New York Herald
New York Herald
The New York Herald was a large distribution newspaper based in New York City that existed between May 6, 1835, and 1924.-History:The first issue of the paper was published by James Gordon Bennett, Sr., on May 6, 1835. By 1845 it was the most popular and profitable daily newspaper in the UnitedStates...

editorial written in 1871, denounced abortion and its promotion as the "infamous and unfortunately common crime– so common that it affords a lucrative support to a regular guild of professional murderers, so safe that its perpetrators advertise their calling in the newspapers". Although the paper in which Greeley wrote accepted such advertisements, others, such as the New York Tribune
New York Tribune
The New York Tribune was an American newspaper, first established by Horace Greeley in 1841, which was long considered one of the leading newspapers in the United States...

, refused to print them. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to obtain a Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine is a doctoral degree for physicians. The degree is granted by medical schools...

 in the United States, also lamented how such ads led to the contemporary synonymity of "female physician" with "abortionist". The Comstock Law
Comstock Law
The Comstock Act, , enacted March 3, 1873, was a United States federal law which amended the Post Office Act and made it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this...

 made all abortion-related advertising illegal in the United States (see history of abortion law).

Madame Restell



A well-known example of a Victorian-era abortionist was Madame Restell
Madame Restell
Ann Trow , better known as Madame Restell, was an early-19th-century abortionist who practiced in New York City.-Biography:...

, or Ann Lohman, who over a forty year period illicitly provided both surgical abortion and abortifacient pills in the northern United States. She began her business in New York during the 1830s, and, by the 1840s, had expanded to include franchises
Franchising
Franchising is the practice of using another firm's successful business model. The word 'franchise' is of anglo-French derivation - from franc- meaning free, and is used both as a noun and as a verb....

 in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 and Philadelphia.

It is estimated that by 1870 her annual expenditure on advertising alone was $60,000. One ad for Restell's medical services, printed in the New York Sun
New York Sun
The New York Sun was a weekday daily newspaper published in New York City from 2002 to 2008. When it debuted on April 16, 2002, adopting the name, motto, and masthead of an otherwise unrelated earlier New York paper, The Sun , it became the first general-interest broadsheet newspaper to be started...

, promised that she could offer the "strictest confidence on complaints incidental to the female frame" and that her "experience and knowledge in the treatment of cases of female irregularity, [was] such as to require but a few days to effect a perfect cure". Another, addressed to married
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 women, asked the question, "Is it desirable, then, for parents to increase their families, regardless of consequences to themselves, or the well-being of their offspring, when a simple, easy, healthy, and certain remedy is within our control?" Advertisements for the "Female Monthly Regulating Pills" she also sold vowed to resolve "all cases of suppression, irregularity, or stoppage of the menses, however obdurate."
Madame Restell was an object of criticism in both the respectable and penny press
Penny press
Penny press newspapers were cheap, tabloid-style papers produced in the middle of the 19th century.- History :As the East Coast's middle and working classes grew, so did the new public’s desire for news. Penny papers emerged as a cheap source with coverage of crime, tragedy, adventure, and gossip...

es. She was first arrested in 1841, but, it was her final arrest by Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock was a United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality.-Biography:...

 which led to her suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 on the day of her trial April 1, 1878.

Development of contemporary methods



Although prototypes of the modern curette
Curette
A curette is a surgical instrument designed for scraping biological tissue or debris in a biopsy, excision, or cleaning procedure. In form, the curette is a small hand tool, often similar in shape to a stylus; at the tip of the curette is a small scoop, hook, or gouge...

 are referred to in ancient texts, the instrument which is used today was initially designed in France in 1723, but was not applied specifically to a gynecological purpose until 1842. Dilation and curettage
Dilation and curettage
Dilation and curettage refers to the dilation of the cervix and surgical removal of part of the lining of the uterus and/or contents of the uterus by scraping and scooping . It is a diagnostic gynecological procedure.D&C normally is referred to a procedure involving a curette, also called sharp...

 has been practiced since the late 19th century.

The 20th century saw improvements in abortion technology, increasing its safety, and reducing its side-effect
Adverse effect (medicine)
In medicine, an adverse effect is a harmful and undesired effect resulting from a medication or other intervention such as surgery.An adverse effect may be termed a "side effect", when judged to be secondary to a main or therapeutic effect. If it results from an unsuitable or incorrect dosage or...

s. Vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 devices, first described in medical literature in the 19th century, allowed for the development of suction-aspiration abortion
Suction-aspiration abortion
Vacuum or suction aspiration uses aspiration to remove uterine contents through the cervix. It may be used as a method of induced abortion, a therapeutic procedure used after miscarriage, or a procedure to obtain a sample for endometrial biopsy. The rate of infection is lower than any other...

. This method was practiced in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Japan, and China, before being introduced to Britain and the United States in the 1960s. The invention of the Karman cannula, a flexible plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

 cannula
Cannula
A cannula or canula is a tube that can be inserted into the body, often for the delivery or removal of fluid or for the gathering of data...

 which replaced earlier metal models in the 1970s, reduced the occurrence of perforation and made suction-aspiration methods possible under local anesthesia
Local anesthesia
Local anesthesia is any technique to induce the absence of sensation in part of the body, generally for the aim of inducing local analgesia, that is, local insensitivity to pain, although other local senses may be affected as well. It allows patients to undergo surgical and dental procedures with...

. In 1971, Lorraine Rothman
Lorraine Rothman
Lorraine Rothman was a founding member of the feminist Self-Help Clinic movement. In 1971, she invented the Del-Em menstrual extraction kit with Carol Downer, to provide abortion to women before Roe v Wade...

 and Carol Downer
Carol Downer
Carol Downer is an American feminist lawyer and non-fiction author who has focused her career on abortion rights.She and Lorraine Rothman were leaders of a group that founded the in Los Angeles, California, in 1971...

, founding members of the feminist self-help movement, invented the Del-Em, a safe, cheap suction device that made it possible for people with minimal training to perform early abortions called menstrual extraction
Menstrual extraction
Menstrual extraction was developed as a technique to help women gain and maintain control over their menstrual cycles and reproductive lives. It can be used as a method of very early termination of pregnancy and/or as a simple way to remove menstrual blood.-Early development:In 1971, a member of...

. During the mid-1990s in the United States the medical community showed renewed interest in manual vacuum aspiration as a method of early surgical abortion. This resurgence is due to technological advances that permit early pregnancy detection (as soon as a week after conception) and a growing popular demand for safe, effective early abortion options, both surgical and medical. An innovator in the development of early surgical abortion services is Jerry Edwards, a physician, who developed a protocol in which women are offered an abortion using a handheld vacuum syringe as soon as a positive pregnancy test is received. This protocol also allows the early detection of an ectopic pregnancy.

Intact dilation and extraction
Intact dilation and extraction
Intact dilation and extraction is a procedure done in late term abortion. It is also known as intact dilation and evacuation, dilation and extraction , intrauterine cranial decompression and, vernacularly in the United States, as partial birth abortion...

 was developed by Dr. James McMahon in 1983. It resembles a procedure used in the 19th century to save a woman's life in cases of obstructed labor, in which the fetal skull was first punctured with a perforator, then crushed and extracted with a forceps
Forceps
Forceps or forcipes are a handheld, hinged instrument used for grasping and holding objects. Forceps are used when fingers are too large to grasp small objects or when many objects need to be held at one time while the hands are used to perform a task. The term 'forceps' is used almost exclusively...

-like instrument, known as a cranioclast
Cranioclast
A cranioclast is surgical instrument akin to a strong forceps. It was once used to crush and then extract the skull of a fetus so as to facilitate delivery in cases of obstructed labour....

.

In 1980, researchers at Roussel Uclaf
Roussel Uclaf
Roussel Uclaf S.A. was the second largest French pharmaceutical company before it was acquired by Hoechst AG of Frankfurt, Germany in 1997, with pharmaceutical operations combined into the Hoechst Marion Roussel division...

 in France developed mifepristone
Mifepristone
Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid compound used as a pharmaceutical. It is a progesterone receptor antagonist used as an abortifacient in the first months of pregnancy, and in smaller doses as an emergency contraceptive. During early trials, it was known as RU-38486 or simply RU-486, its...

, a chemical compound which works as an abortifacient by blocking hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

 action. It was first marketed in France under the trade name
Trade name
A trade name, also known as a trading name or a business name, is the name which a business trades under for commercial purposes, although its registered, legal name, used for contracts and other formal situations, may be another....

 Mifegyne in 1988.


Social: History of abortion debate



Social discourses regarding abortion have historically been related to issues of family planning
Family planning
Family planning is the planning of when to have children, and the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and...

, religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and moral
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 ideology
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

, and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

.

Prehistory to 5th century


Abortion was a common practice. Evidence suggests that late-term abortions were performed in a number of cultures. In Greece, the Stoics
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 believed the fetus to be plantlike in nature, and not an animal until the moment of birth, when it finally breathed air. They therefore found abortion morally acceptable. The Greek playwright Aristophanes
Aristophanes
Aristophanes , son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaus, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete...

 noted the abortifacient property of pennyroyal in 421 BC, through a humorous reference in his comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

, Peace
Peace (play)
Peace is an Athenian Old Comedy written and produced by the Greek playwright Aristophanes. It won second prize at the City Dionysia where it was staged just a few days before the ratification of the Peace of Nicias , which promised to end the ten year old Peloponnesian War...

.

The ancient Greeks relied upon the herb silphium
Silphium
Silphium was a plant that was used in classical antiquity as a rich seasoning and as a medicine. It was the essential item of trade from the ancient North African city of Cyrene, and was so critical to the Cyrenian economy that most of their coins bore a picture of the plant...

 an abortifacient and contraceptive. The plant, as the chief export of Cyrene
Cyrene, Libya
Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony and then a Roman city in present-day Shahhat, Libya, the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times.Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar...

, was driven to extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

, but it is suggested that it might have possessed the same abortive properties as some of its closest extant relatives in the Apiaceae family
Apiaceae
The Apiaceae , commonly known as carrot or parsley family, is a group of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems. The family is large, with more than 3,700 species spread across 434 genera, it is the sixteenth largest family of flowering plants...

. Silphium was so central to the Cyrenian economy that most of its coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

s were embossed with an image of the plant.

In Rome, abortion was forbidden and sometimes severely punished by the jurisprudence (Digest 47.11.14, 48.8.8, 48.19.39, 48.8.3.2., 48.19.38.5) and nevertheless practiced "with little or no sense of shame." There were also opposing voices, most notably Hippocrates of Cos in Greece and the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 Emperor Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

. Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 wrote that, "[T]he line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive." In contrast to their pagan environment, Christians generally shunned abortion, drawing upon early Christian writings such as the Didache
Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

 , which says: "…do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant." Saint Augustine believed that abortion of a fetus animatus, a fetus with human limbs and shape, was murder. However, his beliefs on earlier-stage abortion were similar to Aristotle's, though he could neither deny nor affirm whether such unformed fetuses would be resurrected as full people at the time of the second coming.
  • "Now who is there that is not rather disposed to think that unformed abortions perish, like seeds that have never fructified?"
  • "And therefore the following question may be very carefully inquired into and discussed by learned men, though I do not know whether it is in man's power to resolve it: At what time the infant begins to live in the womb: whether life exists in a latent form before it manifests itself in the motions of the living being. To deny that the young who are cut out limb by limb from the womb, lest if they were left there dead the mother should die too, have never been alive, seems too audacious."

5th century to 16th century

  • ""early period" the Church treated abortion of the pre-quickened fetus as anticipated homicide, homicide by intent, or quasi-homicide
  • c. 1115 Leges Henrici Primi
    Leges Henrici Primi
    The Leges Henrici Primi or Laws of Henry I is a legal treatise, written in about 1115, that records the legal customs of medieval England in the reign of King Henry I of England. Although it is not an official document, it was written by someone apparently associated with the royal administration...

    treated pre-quickening abortion as a misdemeanour, and post quickening abortion as quasi-homicide, carrying a lesser penalty than homicide
  • 1487– Malleus Maleficarum
    Malleus Maleficarum
    The Malleus Maleficarum is an infamous treatise on witches, written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, an Inquisitor of the Catholic Church, and was first published in Germany in 1487...

    (The Hammer of Witches), a witch-hunt
    Witch-hunt
    A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

    ing manual, is published in Germany. It accuses midwives who perform abortions of committing witchcraft
    Witchcraft
    Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

    .

17th century to present


In the mid-to-late 19th century, during the fight for women's suffrage in the U.S.
History of women's suffrage in the United States
Woman suffrage in the United States was achieved gradually, at state and local levels, during the 19th Century and early 20th Century, culminating in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provided: "The right of citizens of the United States to...

, many first-wave feminists
First-wave feminism
First-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity during the 19th and early twentieth century in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. It focused on de jure inequalities, primarily on gaining women's suffrage .The term first-wave was coined retroactively in the 1970s...

, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early woman's movement...

 opposed abortion. In the newspaper she operated with Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States. She was co-founder of the first Women's Temperance Movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as President...

, The Revolution
The Revolution (newspaper)
The Revolution was a weekly women's rights newspaper published between January 8, 1868 and February 1872. It was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association which was formed by feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony...

, an anonymous contributor signing "A" wrote in 1869 about the subject, arguing that instead of merely attempting to pass a law against abortion, the root cause must also be addressed. Simply passing an anti-abortion law would, the writer stated, "be only mowing off the top of the noxious weed, while the root remains. [...] No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh! thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime."

Around 1970, during second-wave feminism
Second-wave feminism
The Feminist Movement, or the Women's Liberation Movement in the United States refers to a period of feminist activity which began during the early 1960s and lasted through the early 1990s....

, abortion and reproductive rights
Reproductive rights
Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health. The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:...

 were unifying issues among various women's rights groups in Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Britain, Norway, France, Germany, and Italy.

Legal: History of abortion law



The earliest mentions of abortion in our written texts reflect the interests of class and caste. Fines are listed in the Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating to ca. 1780 BC . It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay...

, ca. 1760 BC, for the crime of causing a miscarriage through assault, with the amount varying according to the social rank of the prospective mother. The Vedic and smrti laws of India reflect a concern with preserving the male seed of the three upper castes; and the religious courts imposed various penances for the woman or excommunication for a priest who provided an abortion.

While abortion is not mentioned in the Greek and Roman laws, an inference can be made from the laws mandating infanticide for children born deformed, suggesting a state interest in the "fitness" of its citizens. In 211 AD, at the intersection of the reigns of Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

 and Caracalla
Caracalla
Caracalla , was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. The eldest son of Septimius Severus, he ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta until he murdered the latter in 211...

, abortion was outlawed for a period of time to protect the rights of the father, with the punishment being by temporary exile.

In the West, ecclesiastical courts dealt with the matter of abortion, which was viewed as a moral issue and dealt with in Ecclesiastical courts, which treated abortion of an "unformed fetus" (prior to quickening
Quickening
Quickening is the earliest perception of fetal movement by a mother during pregnancy Quickening may also refer to:* Quickening , Final Fantasy XIIs incarnation of "Limit Breaks"...

) as quasi-homicide, imposing a lesser penance than for full homicide. Starting with Leges Henrici Primi, around 1115, abortion was treated as a misdeamenor prior to "quickening
Quickening
Quickening is the earliest perception of fetal movement by a mother during pregnancy Quickening may also refer to:* Quickening , Final Fantasy XIIs incarnation of "Limit Breaks"...

", accruing a penalty of 3 years' penance, or as a "quasi homicide", with ten years' penance, after quickening. With the notable exception of Henry Bracton, most writers on the subject held to this view, and the penalties for homicide were not applied to the crime of abortion. William Staunford
William Staunford
Sir William Staunford was an English jurist and was appointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1554.In 1557 Staunford published the first textbook of English criminal law; Les Plees del Coron. In 1561 his An Exposicion of the Kinges Prerogative was published...

 first formulated the born alive rule
Born alive rule
The "born alive" rule is a legal principle that holds that various aspects of the criminal law, such as the statutes relating to homicide and to assault, apply only to a child that is "born alive"...

 in accordance with the definition of Murder in English law
Murder in English law
Murder is an offence under the common law of England and Wales. It is considered the most serious form of homicide, in which one person kills another either intending to cause death or intending to cause serious injury .-Actus reus:The definition of the actus reus Murder is an offence under the...

, which states that the victim be "a reasonable creature in rerum natura, language which dates back to the Leges Henrici Primi
Leges Henrici Primi
The Leges Henrici Primi or Laws of Henry I is a legal treatise, written in about 1115, that records the legal customs of medieval England in the reign of King Henry I of England. Although it is not an official document, it was written by someone apparently associated with the royal administration...

. William Blackstone
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

's commentaries are usually consulted for the modern formulation of this rule.

The only evidence of the death penalty being mandated for abortion in the ancient laws is found in Assyrian Law
Assyrian law
Assyrian law was very similar to Sumerian and Babylonian law, however, notably more brutal than its predecessors. The first copy of the code to come to light, dated to the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I, was discovered in the course of excavations by the German Oriental Society . Three Assyrian law...

, in the Code of Assura, c. 1075 BCE; and this is only imposed on a woman who procures an abortion against her husband's wishes.

17th century to 19th century

  • 1551- Sir Edward Coke formulates the "born alive rule
    Born alive rule
    The "born alive" rule is a legal principle that holds that various aspects of the criminal law, such as the statutes relating to homicide and to assault, apply only to a child that is "born alive"...

    ", calling abortion "a great misprision and no murder".
  • 1765– William Blackstone
    William Blackstone
    Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

     confirms the "born alive rule
    Born alive rule
    The "born alive" rule is a legal principle that holds that various aspects of the criminal law, such as the statutes relating to homicide and to assault, apply only to a child that is "born alive"...

    " calling abortion "a very heinous misdemeanor".
  • 1803– United Kingdom enacts the Malicious Shooting or Stabbing Act 1803
    Malicious Shooting or Stabbing Act 1803
    Malicious Shooting or Stabbing Act 1803 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland....

    , making abortion after quickening a capital crime
    Capital punishment
    Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

    , and providing lesser penalties for the felony of abortion before quickening
    Quickening
    Quickening is the earliest perception of fetal movement by a mother during pregnancy Quickening may also refer to:* Quickening , Final Fantasy XIIs incarnation of "Limit Breaks"...

    .
  • 1821– Connecticut passes first statute that forbids using poison to induce miscarriages.
  • 1842– The Shogun
    Shogun
    A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

    ate in Japan bans induced abortion in Edo
    Edo
    , also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...

    . The law does not affect the rest of the country.
  • 1861– The Parliament of the United Kingdom
    Parliament of the United Kingdom
    The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

     passes the Offences against the Person Act 1861
    Offences Against The Person Act 1861
    The Offences against the Person Act 1861 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated provisions related to offences against the person from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act...

    , which outlaws abortion.
  • 1869– Pope Pius IX
    Pope Pius IX
    Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

     declared that abortion under any circumstance was gravely immoral (mortal sin
    Mortal sin
    Mortal sins are in the theology of some, but not all Christian denominations wrongful acts that condemn a person to Hell after death. These sins are considered "mortal" because they constitute a rupture in a person's link to God's saving grace: the person's soul becomes "dead", not merely weakened...

    ), and, that anyone who participated in an abortion in any material way had by virtue of that act excommunicated
    Excommunication
    Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

     themselves (latae sententiae
    Latae sententiae
    Latæ sententiæ is a Latin term used in the canon law of the Catholic Church meaning literally "given sentence".Officially, a latae sententiae penalty follows automatically, by force of the law itself, when the law is contravened....

    ) from the Church
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

    . In the same year, the Parliament of Canada
    Parliament of Canada
    The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

     unifies criminal law
    Criminal law
    Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

     in all province
    Provinces and territories of Canada
    The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

    s, banning abortion.
  • 1820–1900– Primarily through the efforts of physicians in the American Medical Association
    American Medical Association
    The American Medical Association , founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1897, is the largest association of medical doctors and medical students in the United States.-Scope and operations:...

     and legislators, most abortions in the U.S. were outlawed.
  • 1873– The passage of the Comstock Law
    Comstock Law
    The Comstock Act, , enacted March 3, 1873, was a United States federal law which amended the Post Office Act and made it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this...

     in the United States makes it a crime to sell, distribute, or own abortion-related products and services, or to publish information on how to obtain them (see advertisement of abortion services).

1920s to 1960s

  • 1920– Lenin
    Vladimir Lenin
    Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

     legalized all abortions in the Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

    .
  • 1931– Mexico as first country in the world legalized abortion in case of rape.
  • 1932– Poland as first country in Europe outside Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

     legalized abortion in cases of rape and threat to maternal health.

  • 1935– Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

     became the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion under limited circumstances.
  • 1935– Nazi Germany
    Nazi Germany
    Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

     amended its eugenics law
    Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring
    Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring or "Sterilization Law" was a statute in Nazi Germany enacted on July 14, 1933, which allowed the compulsory sterilization of any citizen who in the opinion of a "Genetic Health Court" Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring...

    , to promote abortion for women who have hereditary disorders. The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission, and if the fetus was not yet viable, and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.
  • 1936– Joseph Stalin
    Joseph Stalin
    Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

     reversed most parts of Lenin's legalization of abortion in the Soviet Union to increase population growth
    Population growth
    Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

    . Stalin's reversal was repealed in 1955.
  • 1936– Heinrich Himmler
    Heinrich Himmler
    Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

    , Chief of the SS, creates the "Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion". Himmler, inspired by bureaucrats of the Race and Settlement Main Office, hoped to reverse a decline in the "Aryan
    Aryan race
    The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

    " birthrate which he attributed to homosexuality
    Homosexuality
    Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

     among men and abortion
    Abortion
    Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

    s among healthy Aryan women, which were not allowed under the 1935 law, but nevertheless practiced. Reich Secretary Martin Bormann
    Martin Bormann
    Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

     however refused to implement law in this respect, which would revert the 1935 law.
  • 1938– In Britain, Dr. Aleck Bourne
    Aleck Bourne
    Aleck William Bourne was a prominent British gynaecologist and writer, known for his 1938 trial, a landmark case, for performing an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl rape victim. He later became an pro-life activist....

     aborted the pregnancy of a young girl who had been rape
    Rape
    Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

    d by soldier
    Soldier
    A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

    s. Bourne was acquitted
    Acquittal
    In the common law tradition, an acquittal formally certifies the accused is free from the charge of an offense, as far as the criminal law is concerned. This is so even where the prosecution is abandoned nolle prosequi...

     after turning himself into authorities. The legal precedent of allowing abortion in order to avoid mental
    Mind
    The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

     or physical damage was picked up by the Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

    .
  • 1948– The Eugenic Protection Act in Japan expanded the circumstances in which abortion is allowed.
  • 1959– The American Law Institute
    American Law Institute
    The American Law Institute was established in 1923 to promote the clarification and simplification of American common law and its adaptation to changing social needs. The ALI drafts, approves, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Principles of the Law, model codes, and other proposals for law...

     drafts a model state abortion law to make legal abortions accessible.
  • 1961– California state legislature introduces an abortion reform law based on the American Law Institute model.
  • 1966– The Ceauşescu regime of Romania, in an attempt to boost the country's population banned all abortion.
  • 1966– Mississippi
    Mississippi
    Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

     reformed its abortion law and became the first U.S. state
    U.S. state
    A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

     to allow abortion in cases of rape
    Rape
    Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

    .
  • 1967– The Abortion Act 1967
    Abortion Act 1967
    The Abortion Act 1967 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom legalising abortions by registered practitioners, and regulating the free provision of such medical practices through the National Health Service ....

     (effective 1968) legalized abortion in the United Kingdom (except in Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

    ). In the U.S., Colorado
    Colorado
    Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

    , California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , and North Carolina
    North Carolina
    North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

     reformed their abortion laws based on the 1962 ALI
    American Law Institute
    The American Law Institute was established in 1923 to promote the clarification and simplification of American common law and its adaptation to changing social needs. The ALI drafts, approves, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Principles of the Law, model codes, and other proposals for law...

     Model Penal Code
    Model Penal Code
    The Model Penal Code is a statutory text which was developed by the American Law Institute in 1962. The Chief Reporter on the project was Herbert Wechsler. The current form of the MPC was last updated in 1981. The purpose of the MPC was to stimulate and assist legislatures in making an effort to...

     (MPC).
  • 1967–1970– Colorado becomes first state to loosen its abortion laws followed by Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, and Virginia.
  • 1968– President Lyndon Johnson’s Committee on The Status of Women releases a report calling for a repeal of all abortion laws.
  • 1969– Senator Robert Packwood of Oregon introduces legislation to legalize abortion in Washington D.C.; no action is taken.
  • 1969– Canada passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69
    Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69
    The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 was an omnibus bill that introduced major changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. It was introduced as Bill C-150 by then Minister of Justice Pierre Trudeau in the second session of the 27th Canadian Parliament on December 21, 1967...

    , which began to allow abortion for selective reasons.
  • 1969– The ruling in the Victorian
    Victoria (Australia)
    Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

     case of R v Davidson
    R v Davidson
    R v Davidson, also known as the Menhennitt ruling, was a significant ruling delivered in the Supreme Court of Victoria on 26 May 1969. It concerned the legality of abortion in the Australian state of Victoria...

    defined for the first time which abortions are lawful in Australia.
  • 1969–1973– The Jane Collective
    Jane Collective
    The Jane Collective was an underground abortion service which operated in Chicago, Illinois from 1969 to 1973. The collective was started by women when they realized that many illegal abortion providers were not doctors. Since illegal abortions were also dangerous and very expensive, founding...

     operated in Chicago, offering illegal abortions.

1970s to present

  • 1970– Hawaii, New York, Alaska and Washington repealed their abortion laws and allowed abortion on demand; South Carolina
    South Carolina
    South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

     and Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

     reformed their abortion laws based on the Model Penal Code
    Model Penal Code
    The Model Penal Code is a statutory text which was developed by the American Law Institute in 1962. The Chief Reporter on the project was Herbert Wechsler. The current form of the MPC was last updated in 1981. The purpose of the MPC was to stimulate and assist legislatures in making an effort to...

    .
  • 1971– The Indian Parliament under the Prime Ministership of a lady Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
    Indira Gandhi
    Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

    , passes Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 (more commonly referred to as simply MTP Act 1971). India thus becomes one of the earliest nations to pass this Act. The Act gains importance, considering India had traditionally been a very conservative country in these matters. Most notably there was no similar Act in several US states around the same time.
  • 1973– The U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

    , declared all the individual state bans on abortion during the first trimester to be unconstitutional, allowed states to regulate but not proscribe abortion during the second trimester, and allowed states to proscribe abortion during the third trimester unless abortion is in the best interest of the woman's physical or mental health. The Court legalized abortion in all trimesters when a woman's doctor believes the abortion is necessary for her physical or mental health.
  • 1973–1980– France (1975), West Germany (1976), New Zealand (1977), Italy (1978), and the Netherlands (1980) legalized abortion in limited circumstances (France : no elective -for non-medical reasons- abortion allowed after 10–12 weeks gestation)
  • 1976–1977– Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois sponsors the Hyde Amendment
    Hyde Amendment
    In U.S. politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions. It is not a permanent law, rather it is a "rider" that, in various forms, has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976...

    , which passes, allows states to prohibit the use of Medicaid funding for abortions.
  • 1979– The People's Republic of China enacted a one-child policy
    One-child policy
    The one-child policy refers to the one-child limitation applying to a minority of families in the population control policy of the People's Republic of China . The Chinese government refers to it under the official translation of family planning policy...

    , leaving some women to either undergo an abortion or violate the policy and face economic penalties in some circumstances.
  • 1983– Ireland, by popular referendum
    Referendum
    A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

    , added an amendment
    Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
    The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland introduced a constitutional ban on abortion. It was effected by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1983, which was approved by referendum on 7 September 1983 and signed into law on the 7 October of the same year.-Changes to the...

     to its Constitution
    Constitution of Ireland
    The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

     recognizing "the right to life of the unborn." Abortion is still illegal in Ireland, except as urgent medical procedures to save a woman's life.
  • 1988– France legalized the "abortion pill" mifepristone
    Mifepristone
    Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid compound used as a pharmaceutical. It is a progesterone receptor antagonist used as an abortifacient in the first months of pregnancy, and in smaller doses as an emergency contraceptive. During early trials, it was known as RU-38486 or simply RU-486, its...

     (RU-486). In R. v. Morgentaler
    R. v. Morgentaler
    R. v. Morgentaler [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30 was a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada wherein the abortion provision in the Criminal Code of Canada was found to be unconstitutional, as it violated a woman's right under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to "security of person"...

    , the Supreme Court of Canada
    Supreme Court of Canada
    The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

     struck down regulations of abortion for violating a woman's constitutional "security of person
    Security of person
    Security of the person is a basic entitlement guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. It is also a human right explicitly mentioned and protected by the Constitution of Canada, the Constitution of South Africa and other laws around the...

    "; Canadian law has not regulated abortion ever since.
  • 1989– Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
    Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
    Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 , was a United States Supreme Court decision on July 3, 1989 upholding a Missouri law that imposed restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees in performing, assisting with, or counseling on abortions...

    reinforces the state's right to prevent all publicly funded facilities from providing or assisting with abortion services.
  • 1990– The Abortion Act 1967
    Abortion Act 1967
    The Abortion Act 1967 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom legalising abortions by registered practitioners, and regulating the free provision of such medical practices through the National Health Service ....

     in the UK was amended so that abortion is legal only up to 24 weeks, rather than 28, except in unusual cases.
  • 1992– In Planned Parenthood v. Casey
    Planned Parenthood v. Casey
    Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in which the constitutionality of several Pennsylvania state regulations regarding abortion were challenged...

    , the Supreme Court of the United States
    Supreme Court of the United States
    The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

     overturned the trimester framework in Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

    , making it legal for states to proscribe abortion after the point of fetal viability, excepting instances that would risk the woman's health.
  • 1993– Poland banned abortion, except in cases of rape
    Rape
    Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

    , incest
    Incest
    Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

    , severe congenital disorder
    Congenital disorder
    A congenital disorder, or congenital disease, is a condition existing at birth and often before birth, or that develops during the first month of life , regardless of causation...

    s, or threat to the life of the pregnant woman.
  • 1994– Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act
    Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act
    The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act is a United States law that was signed by President Bill Clinton in May of 1994, which prohibits the following three things: the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere...

     is passed by the United States Congress
    United States Congress
    The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

     to forbid the use of force or obstruction to prevent someone from providing or receiving reproductive health services.
  • 1997– In South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    , the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1996
    Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1996
    The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1996 is the law governing abortion in South Africa. It allows abortion on demand up to the twelfth week of pregnancy, under broadly-specified circumstances from the thirteenth to the twentieth week, and only for serious medical reasons after the...

     comes into effect, allowing abortion on demand. The Abortion and Sterilization Act, 1975, which only allowed abortions in very limited circumstances, is repealed.
  • 1998– In Christian Lawyers Association and Others v Minister of Health and Others, the Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court of South Africa
    High Court of South Africa
    The High Courts are superior courts of law in South Africa. The courts were created in 1996 on the adoption of the Constitution of South Africa, and inherited the jurisdiction of the provincial and local divisions of the former Supreme Court of South Africa...

     upholds the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, holding that that the Constitution of South Africa
    Constitution of South Africa
    The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme law of the country of South Africa. It provides the legal foundation for the existence of the republic, sets out the rights and duties of its citizens, and defines the structure of the government. The current constitution, the country's fifth, was...

     does not forbid abortions.
  • 1999– The United States Congress
    United States Congress
    The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

     passed a ban on intact dilation and extraction
    Intact dilation and extraction
    Intact dilation and extraction is a procedure done in late term abortion. It is also known as intact dilation and evacuation, dilation and extraction , intrauterine cranial decompression and, vernacularly in the United States, as partial birth abortion...

    , which President Bill Clinton
    Bill Clinton
    William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

     veto
    Veto
    A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

    ed.
  • 2000– Mifepristone
    Mifepristone
    Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid compound used as a pharmaceutical. It is a progesterone receptor antagonist used as an abortifacient in the first months of pregnancy, and in smaller doses as an emergency contraceptive. During early trials, it was known as RU-38486 or simply RU-486, its...

     (RU-486) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    Food and Drug Administration
    The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

     (FDA). In Stenberg v. Carhart
    Stenberg v. Carhart
    Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 , is a case heard by the Supreme Court of the United States dealing with a Nebraska law which made performing partial-birth abortion illegal, except where necessary to save the life of the mother. Nebraska physicians who performed the procedure contrary to the law...

    , the Supreme Court of the United States
    Supreme Court of the United States
    The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

     overturned a Nebraska
    Nebraska
    Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

     state law that banned intact dilation and extraction
    Intact dilation and extraction
    Intact dilation and extraction is a procedure done in late term abortion. It is also known as intact dilation and evacuation, dilation and extraction , intrauterine cranial decompression and, vernacularly in the United States, as partial birth abortion...

    .
  • 2003– The U.S. enacted the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
    Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
    The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is a United States law prohibiting a form of late-term abortion that the Act calls "partial-birth abortion", often referred to in medical literature as intact dilation and extraction...

    and President
    President of the United States
    The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

     George W. Bush
    George W. Bush
    George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

     signed it into law. After the law was challenged in three appeals courts, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it was constitutional because, unlike the earlier Nebraska state law, it was not vague or overly broad. The court also held that banning the procedure did not constitute an "undue burden," even without a health exception. (see also: Gonzales v. Carhart
    Gonzales v. Carhart
    Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 , is a United States Supreme Court case that upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The case reached the high court after U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appealed a ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in favor of...

    )
  • 2007– Supreme Court upholds the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
  • 2007– The Parliament of Portugal
    Portugal
    Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

     voted to legalize abortion during the first ten weeks of pregnancy. This followed a referendum that, while revealing that a majority of Portuguese voters favored legalization of early-stage abortions, failed due to low voter turnout. Although, at the 2nd referendum, the vote for the legalization won. President Cavaco Silva signed the measure and it went on effect.
  • 2007– The government of Mexico City legalizes abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and offers free abortions. On August 28, 2008, the Mexican Supreme Court
    Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation
    The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation is the highest federal court in the United Mexican States. It consists of a President of the Supreme Court and ten Ministers who are confirmed by the Senate from a list proposed by the President of the Republic.Justices of the SCJN serve for fifteen...

     upholds the law.
  • 2008– The Australian state of Victoria
    Victoria (Australia)
    Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

     passes a bill which decriminalizes abortion, making it legally accessible to women in the first 24 weeks of the pregnancy.
  • 2009– In Spain
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

    a bill decriminalizes abortion, making it legally accessible to women in the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy.

Further reading


External links