Before Legalization

Before abortion was legalized in 1973, women were forced to resort to unsafe methods of terminating a pregnancy, often resorting to wire coat hangers, throwing themselves down stairs, or drinking cleaning products. However, the procedures would often be damaging because of the nature of the male doctors, not entirely because of the physical aspect of the procedure. Not only could these "back alley" abortions cause phsyical harm to the woman, but it would also cause psychological harm that could stay with her for a lifetime. 

"It wasn’t a coat hanger. It was with a physician who wasn’t a hack. … Most damaging to me, psychologically, was that I felt as though I was damaged goods.”

-Leta Dalley recalls her abortion experience prior to legalization

Russian poster condemns American abortion procedures. Directly translates to, "Abortions induced by grandma or self-taught midwives not only maim the woman, they also often lead to death"

Although safe procedures were available, they were typically offered exclusively to women of means. This posed a problem for women of lower classes, as there were often extenuating circumstances as to why abortions were necessary, including rape, incest, or physical endangerment to the woman.

Pictured to the left: Protesters that support abortions display the coat hanger on their signs, which act as a representation of the hardships and repression women endured as a result of illegal abortions. 

"It was really a time when if you needed an abortion, for whatever reason, you took your life in your hands, and you were terrified. Absolutely terrified. All you knew was that you might die, that this person didn’t know what he was doing, and he was going to take hundreds of dollars, and you were going to bleed to death in some motel room."

-New York Times

The Seventies

The Jane Collective emerged during the 1970’s; a time where feminism and sexual advocacy were gaining popularity, and the birth of mainstream feminism could be observed. Women became more outspoken on issues that were formerly considered to be “taboo” topics. 

IRetrieved from "CNN." Depicts a display of feminism during the 1970s. 

Retrieved from CNN. Depicts women gathered in support of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), demonstrating one of the reform movements encompassed in mainstream feminism during the 1970s. 

Women sought liberation beyond the home. They fought for equal pay, support for single mothers, and ultimate representation in society. The new wave of feminism during this time period drew in women of all “backgrounds, races, and political beliefs.” (CNN 2015)​​​​​​​

"They want equal pay for equal work, and a chance at jobs traditionally reserved for men only. They seek nationwide abortion reform -- ideally, free abortions on demand. They desire round-the-clock, state-supported child-care centers in order to cut the apron strings that confine mothers to unpaid domestic servitude at home. The most radical feminists want far more. Their eschatological aim is to topple the patriarchal system in which men by birthright control all of society's levers of power -- in government, industry, education, science, the arts."