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

Front Cover
Univ of California Press, Feb 22, 2022 - Medical - 432 pages
0 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
The definitive history of abortion in the United States, with a new preface that equips readers for what’s to come.
When Abortion Was a Crime is the must-read book on abortion history. Originally published ahead of the thirtieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this award-winning study was 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 that monumental case in 1973. When Abortion Was a Crime is filled with intimate stories and nuanced analysis, demonstrating how abortion was criminalized and policed—and how millions of women sought abortions regardless of the law. With this edition, Leslie J. Reagan provides a new preface that addresses the dangerous and ongoing threats to abortion access across the country, and the precarity of our current moment.
While abortions have typically been portrayed as grim "back alley" operations, this deeply researched history confirms that many abortion providers—including physicians—practiced openly and safely, despite prohibitions by the state and the American Medical Association. Women could find cooperative and reliable practitioners; 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 increasingly under attack, this book remains the definitive history of abortion in the United States, offering vital lessons for every American concerned with health care, civil liberties, and personal and sexual freedom.

What people are saying - Write a review

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

WHEN ABORTION WAS A CRIME: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973

User Review  - Kirkus

A solidly grounded, sophisticated history of illegal abortion in the US. Reagan, a historian specializing in medicine and women's studies (Univ. of Illinois), persuasively argues that, even during ... Read full review

Selected pages


Front Cover
PostRoe PostCasey 246

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2022)

Leslie J. Reagan is Professor of History, Law, Gender and Women's Studies, and Media Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Author of the award-winning Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America and public intellectual, Reagan has written for the Washington Post, Time, Ms. Magazine, and Huffington Post and has appeared on numerous national and international media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, CBC Radio, and NPR. She is currently completing Toxic Legacies: Agent Orange in the United States and Vietnam.

Bibliographic information