Last week’s Supreme Court ruling immediately prohibited abortion in seven states, with 23 more either moving to make it illegal or likely to. At the heart of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in overturning Roe v. Wade is the notion that abortion is not “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.” Since Roe was based on the 14th Amendment, Alito contends that we must consider the context in which the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868. This week, to provide the context that Alito misrepresented, we are rerunning our interview with Tamara Dean about abortion in the 19th century, when it was common, and largely unprohibited. In the leather-bound death records of the county where Dean lives, only two abortions are mentioned, which she writes about in her essay “Safer Than Childbirth.” The more common cause of death, Dean found, was giving birth. At the time, abortion was widely accepted as a means of avoiding the risks of pregnancy and childbirth. Even the Catholic Church didn’t oppose ending pregnancy before “quickening,” usually around the fourth month, because no one believed that human life existed before a woman could feel the fetus move. Tamara Dean joins the podcast to talk about what gets forgotten in the contemporary battle over abortion.
Go beyond the episode:
- Read Tamara Dean’s “Safer Than Childbirth”
- Watch Cecily Strong’s Saturday Night Live skit that captures the struggle to talk about abortion openly
- In December, the FDA permanently allowed abortion pills to be delivered by mail, which it had previously restricted
- Listen to our interview with Scott Stern about the decades-long U.S. government plan to imprison “promiscuous” women
Resources for those seeking an abortion, now or in future:
- Before accessing any of these links, read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s guide to digital privacy and security
- Find out how to safely terminate a pregnancy at an abortion clinic at abortionfinder.org
- Find an abortion fund that can provide financial support at abortionfunds.org
- Medication to safely end a pregnancy can be mailed to you through plancpills.org
- Get a prescription, in advance, for abortion medication in the mail through aidaccess.org
- For guidance and support in taking this medication at home, call or text the Reprocare Healthline at 833-226-7821, and for confidential legal advice regarding abortion, contact the Repro Legal Helpline
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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