142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Abortion in New York City Before Roe v. Wade: Lessons from the Archives

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 8:30 AM - 8:45 AM

Kathleen Powderly, CNM, PhD , John Conley Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
Abortion remains one of the most controversial issues in our society and in public health.  In addition to being a medical procedure, it is a highly emotional issue which has become politicized in our society.  Although abortion has been legal in this country since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, access to safe medical abortion is limited in many areas of the country.    It is important to remember the implications of limited access to safe abortion.  Many who face the decision to terminate a pregnancy and many who profess to be prolife and anti-abortion are too young to remember the horrific consequences for the desperate women who sought terminations before they were legal.  These women risked morbidity and mortality.  In some cases, the clinicians who cared for them exhibited incredible moral courage in doing so.  They also experienced moral anguish as they witnessed the consequences for desperate women who were cared for by unsafe providers or who attempted self-termination.  The stories of women and their providers are an important historical context.  This presentation will be based on the maternal mortality and morbidity reports from a large municipal hospital in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  Deidentified case reports will be used to describe the medical background, methods of termination, and consequences for women who terminated pregnancies pre-Roe.  Oral histories of clinicians on the front lines will also be incorporated.  The role of NYC public health surveillance from 1970-1973 in the passage of Roe v. Wade will be highlighted.

Learning Areas:

Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Describe the implications of limited access to safe medical abortion. Discuss the historical context of abortion in the United States pre-Roe v. Wade.

Keyword(s): Abortion, Ethics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a certified nurse-midwife with a PhD in social science (history) and public health. I have more than 30 years of experience in clinical ethics, history of medicine, public health and maternal-child health. I teach medical students, allied health students and public health students.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3062.0: Abortion at the state level