The practice of abortion dates back to ancient times. Pregnancies were terminated through a number of methods, including tools, taking abortion herbs, the use of sharpened tools, abdominal pressure, and other techniques. In western parts of the world during the 20th century various women 's rights groups, doctors, and social reformers successfully worked to have abortion bans repealed. Various anti-abortion laws have been on every state statute book since at least 1900. During this time, abortion was illegal in 30 states, and legal in 20 states under certain circumstances. These circumstances were rape, incest, and date drug. Abortions were seen as only need in life and death situations. The criminalization of abortion accelerated during the 1860’s. By the 1900’s it was generally punished as a felony. In the 1930’s approximately 800,000 abortions a year were performed by licensed physicians.
In 1962 Colorado became the first state to legalize abortions but only under the circumstances I previously disclosed. Soon similar laws were passed in California, Oregon, and North Carolina. In 1970, Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortions on the request of the mother. This lead the way for New York, to repeal its laws and allow women to terminate their pregnancy up to 24 weeks. A law in Washington, DC allowed abortion to protect the life and health of the women, was challenged in the Supreme Court in 1971. The case was United States v. Vuitvch. In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the law, stating that “health” meant a women’s physical and mental well-being. This allowed women in Washington, DC to receive abortions.
The Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade set guidelines for the availability of abortion. The case established that
Cited: Expulsion of the products of conception before the embryo or fetus is viable. Any interruption of human pregnancy prior to the 28th week is known as abortion." "Abortion". The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press. 2008. Lewis, J.; Shimabukuro, Jon O. (28 January 2001). "Abortion Law Development: A Brief Overview". Congressional Research Service. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2011.