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Abortion By Meee Almost half of American women have terminated at least one pregnancy and millions more Americans of both sexes have helped them as partners parents health-care workers counselors friends Collectively it would seem Americans have quite a bit of knowledge and experience of abortion Yet the debate over legal abortion is curiously abstract we might be discussing brain transplants Farfetched analogies abound abortion is like the Holocaust or slavery denial of abortion is like forcing a person to spend nine months intravenously hooked up to a medically endangered stranger who happens to be a famous violinist It sometimes seems that the further abortion is removed from the actual lives and circumstances of real girls and women the more interesting it becomes to talk about Opponents often argue as if the widespread use of abortion were a modern innovation the consequence of some aspect of contemporary life of which they disapprove feminism promiscuity consumerism Godlessness permissiveness individualism and as if making it illegal would make it go away What if none of this is true Historical advertisements The Granger Collection New York When Abortion Was a Crime Leslie J Reagan demonstrates that abortion has been a common procedure -- part of life -- in America since the eighteenth century both during the slightly more than half of our history as a nation when it has been legal and during the slightly less than half when it was not The first statutes regulating abortion passed in the 1820s and 1830s were actually poison-control laws the sale of commercial abortifacients was banned but abortion per se was not The laws made little difference By the 1840s the abortion business -- including the sale of illegal drugs which were widely advertised in the popular press -- was booming In one of the many curious twists that mark the history of abortion the campaign to criminalize it was waged by the same professional group
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