The surprising history of abortion in the United States - CNN.com
There was a time when abortion was simply part of life in the United States. People didn’t scream about it in protest, and services were marketed openly.
Drugs to induce abortions were a booming business. They were advertised in newspapers and could be bought from pharmacists, from physicians and even through the mail. If drugs didn’t work, women could visit practitioners for instrumental procedures.
The earliest efforts to govern abortions centered on concerns about poisoning, not morality, religion or politics. It was the mid-19th century, long before abortion became the hot-button issue it is now.
All of this is according to historian Leslie Reagan, whose 1996 book on abortion history in the United States is considered one of the most comprehensive to date.
Today, as we await a U.S. Supreme Court decision in what’s been called the biggest abortion case to hit the high court in two decades, many states still clamor to ramp up restrictions.
Since 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the United States, states have enacted more than 1,074 laws to limit access to the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive rights organization. More than a quarter of these laws passed between 2010 and 2015.
It wasn’t always like this, says Reagan, a professor of history, medicine, gender, women’s studies and law at the University of Illinois.
So how did we get here?