Past, Present and Future of Abortion


On Jan. 20, 2017, our new president, Donald J. Trump, will be inaugurated into United States office. Trump rests on the common Republican view of pro-life and is promising to change how America deals with abortions during his four years in office. This bring up concerns to the millions of pro-choice American citizens fighting to keep abortion legal and safe.

Abortion has been such a controversial subject even before Connecticut passed the first law in the United States to restrict abortion in 1821. Many states followed Connecticut’s actions and continued these restrictions. The 1900’s were filled with illegal abortions, maternal deaths from self done abortions, and struggling women. It wasn’t until 1972 that simple forms of contraception was legally given to unmarried women.

The Roe v. Wade court case was brought to the Supreme Court one year later in 1973 and made a drastic change to the way abortion is handled in the United States. The final decision of the case was that it is a woman’s right to make medical decisions, including abortion, and keep them private without any interference of the government. The court ruled 7-2 in this law based on the 14th amendment of equal protection.

Prior to 1973 Roe v. Wade case, abortion rights in the United States were not seen as a federal issue, it was seen purely as a state matter. Women would have to travel to different states to get abortions. Before 1973 only four states, Oregon, New York, Alaska, and Hawaii  had repealed their abortion laws. This made it nearly impossible for a low income women in somewhere like North Dakota to get an abortion.

Especially during the Great Depression, most women could not bear the thought of having to support another child financially.

On average, there were 1,400 deaths a year from abortions in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These deaths include illegal abortions therapeutic abortions (abortion used to try to save a women dying in childbirth) and miscarriages. Luckily since Roe v. Wade, the fear of death by an abortion is not nearly as prevalent.

As the rights for abortion continued to grow, so did pro-life anger. President Bill Clinton passed a law in 1994 to protect abortion clinics from any pro-choice violence. Clinton also made another stretch in 2000 to approve the abortion pill RU-486 which is effective to terminate a pregnancy during the first 50 days of pregnancy and can even be used during the second trimester of pregnancy.

Clinton’s examples of support towards women’s abortions showed the improvement that was still continuing in the United States for women’s rights and privacy. The successful fight came to a halt once George W. Bush was elected into office bringing in new threatening pro-choice views.

Bush, being a Republican pro-life president, ended up signing laws that restricted abortion for the first time in the United States since Roe V. Wade in 2007. The law, still in place today, says woman can not get abortions after the 24th week in the pregnancy.

The real scare for most women is to go back to how abortion was treated before Roe vs. Wade. After more than 41 years since the Roe vs. Wade case, women’s rights for abortion are being jeopardized with loss of resources and punishment.

Flags are already being raised for women as Ohio passes the ‘heartbeat abortion bill’. This new bill, passed December sixth, states a women can not get an abortion once there is a heartbeat of the fetus during pregnancy. This bill can affect women as early as 6 weeks into their pregnancy.

 Donald Trump also brings a lot of uncertainty to the table since over the years in the spotlight, Tump has changed his stance on abortion multiple times. His most recent statements have been unsettling to pro-choice women.

Over the campaign for Trump’s 2016 presidential position, his most concerning statements were that if abortion becomes a state matter, then women will just have to find a way to get to a different state. A possible punishment for the women who get abortions or for the doctors that perform them was also a proposition Trump made during his campaign.

With laws underway, most people believe this is just the beginning. Trump is still underway of electing a supreme court judge. Also with all three branches of government republican there is more bias towards pro-life. No one is quite certain with how Trump will take charge on women’s rights over the next four years, but there is a legitimate fear for women with a future that could possibly hold an unwanted pregnancy.  

Image Credit: Feminist Campus via Think Progress +