What Abortion Was Like In The U.S. Before Roe V. Wade

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tags: Roe v. Wade, abortion


KELLY: Start with the numbers. Before the Roe versus Wade decision 1973, how many American women got abortions?

HAUGEBERG: Scholars will probably never be able to answer that question with precision precisely because the procedure was illegal. But scholars estimate that between 20% and 25% of all pregnancies ended in abortion before Roe v. Wade.

KELLY: Well, that prompts me to the next thing I want to ask you about, which is, how risky was it when a woman did decide that she wanted to get an abortion in those days pre-Roe versus Wade - because I think the picture a lot of people maybe have in their head is of back-alley abortions or of women using coat hangers or drinking rat poison to induce abortions.

HAUGEBERG: Immediately before Roe v. Wade, officially approximately 200 women died per year. Historically, the most commonplace method that women have used when they haven't been able to obtain legal abortions is self-induction. Those are the horror stories that you hear of women trying to fall down stairs or ingesting poisons or using instruments to try to induce an abortion.

Another method that women commonly used was turning to the unregulated market. And some women were able to find providers who were willing to perform abortions safely but criminally at great risk to their professional careers and at risk of being imprisoned themselves...

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