15 Dangerous and Deadly Methods Women Have Used When Abortion Is Illegal


News flash: Sex isn’t going anywhere. Even people who don’t like abortion need to recognize that unwanted pregnancies and abortion aren’t going anywhere, either (especially, and frustratingly, and ironically when many “pro-life” “anti-choice” people oppose contraception and any kind of effective sex-ed). Here is a mere sampling from relatively recent history of the uncomfortable, painful, dangerous and deadly methods a woman would use when when abortion wasn’t legal or accesible.

  • putting a leech up her vagina
  • putting cayenne pepper up her vagina
  • swallowing lye
  • swallowing gunpowder
  • throwing herself down the stairs
  • hitting her stomach with a meat pulverizer
  • hitting her stomach with a brickbat
  • spending a night in the snow
  • bathing herself in scalding water
  • consuming turpentine
  • consuming pulverized Spanish fly
  • consuming opium
  • consuming ergot, a fungus, which was especially effective at ending pregnancies, while at the same time bringing on gangrene, psychosis and death
  • consuming Tansy oil, which rots internal organs
  • probing herself with a knitting needle or the infamous hanger, which could cause infection, sterility, permanent injury, puncture, hemorrhage, and death

This is where we’ve come from. And we can never go back.

Leeches, Lye and Spanish Fly [NYT]
image via Photocrea/ shutterstock

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