When Abortion Was a Crime Women, Medicine and Law in the United States, 1867-1973

ISBN-10: 0520216571
ISBN-13: 9780520216570
Edition: N/A
Authors: Leslie J. Reagan
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Description: As we approach the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it's crucial to look back to the time when abortion was illegal. Leslie Reagan traces the practice and policing of abortion, which although illegal was nonetheless widely available, but always with  More...

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Book details

List price: $31.95
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 9/21/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 402
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.188

As we approach the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it's crucial to look back to the time when abortion was illegal. Leslie Reagan traces the practice and policing of abortion, which although illegal was nonetheless widely available, but always with threats for both doctor and patient. In a time when many young women don't even know that there was a period when abortion was a crime, this work offers chilling and vital lessons of importance to everyone. The linking of the words "abortion" and "crime" emphasizes the difficult and painful history that is the focus of Leslie J. Reagan's important book. Her study is the first to examine the entire period during which abortion was illegal in the United States, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and ending with Roe v. Wade in 1973. Although illegal, millions of abortions were provided during these years to women of every class, race, and marital status. The experiences and perspectives of these women, as well as their physicians and midwives, are movingly portrayed here. Reagan traces the practice and policing of abortion. While abortions have been typically portrayed as grim "back alley" operations, she finds that abortion providers often practiced openly and safely. Moreover, numerous physicians performed abortions, despite prohibitions by the state and the American Medical Association. Women often found cooperative practioners, but prosecution, public humiliation, loss of privacy, and inferior medical care were a constant threat. Reagan's analysis of previously untapped sources, including inquest records and trial transcripts, shows the fragility of patient rights and raises provocative questions about the relationship between medicine and law. With the right to abortion again under attack in the United States, this book offers vital lessons for every American concerned with health care, civil liberties, and personal and sexual freedom.

Professor Leslie J. Reagan graduated from the University of California, Davis, in 1981, and earned an M. A. (1985) and a Ph. D. (1991) from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She became a professor at the University of Illinois in 1992, before which she was a visiting research Fellow at the Institute of the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Areas of specialty include the history of medicine, American women's history and sexuality. She has been published in a variety of scholarly journals (including Bulletin of the History of Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, and Journal of American History) and her book, When Abortion was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 (1997) received numerous awards, including the Presidents Award for the Social Science History Association, the Law and Society Association's James Willard Hurst Prize for Best Book in Legal History, and the Choice Outstanding Book of the Year.

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