July 9, 2022

Unspoken: Healthcare Before Roe

Unspoken: Healthcare Before Roe

In May, news leaked of a draft Supreme Court decision regarding a Mississippi ban on abortion. As written, the opinion seeks to overturn two landmark Supreme Court cases regarding women's healthcare rights: Planned Parenthood v Casey and Roe v Wade.

As the opinion hit the news, I received several requests to cover the topic of abortion in the United States. As I mention in the episode, I think the topic is too nuanced and far reaching to cover adequately in one episode. However, I felt it was an important moment in history to discuss and was lucky enough to connect with a longtime listener of the show who grew up in the era before Roe.

So this week, with JoAnn's help, I am sharing the history of accessing reproductive healthcare before Roe. In this episode, JoAnn shares her memories about what it was like for women and young girls who required assistance in the years before Roe and what it was like for her to access reproductive healthcare in California.


Acevedo Z. Abortion in early America. Women Health. 1979 Summer;4(2):159-67. doi: 10.1300/J013v04n02_05. PMID: 10297561. (LINK)

Baker, Carrie N. “The History of Abortion Law in the United States.” September 14, 2020. Our Bodies, Ourselves. (LINK)

Gutierrez-Romine, Alicia. From Back Alley to the Border: Criminal Abortion in California, 1920-1969. United States: University of Nebraska, 2020.

Holland, Jennifer L. “Abolishing Abortion: The History of the Pro-Life Movement in America.” Organization of American Historians. 2016. (LINK

Ozug, Matt, Sarah Handel, Ailsa Chang and Patrick Jarenwattananon. “Inside Pat Maginnis’ radical tactics on abortion rights in the 1960s.” NPR. May 5, 2022. (LINK)