15 Dangerous and Deadly Methods Women Have Used When Abortion Is Illegal

News flash: Sex isn't going anywhere. Even people who don't like abortion need to recognize that unwanted pregnancies and abortion aren't going anywhere, either (especially, and frustratingly, and ironically when many "pro-life" "anti-choice" people oppose contraception and any kind of effective sex-ed). Here is a mere sampling from relatively recent history of the uncomfortable, painful, dangerous and deadly methods a woman would use when when abortion wasn't legal or accesible.

  • putting a leech up her vagina
  • putting cayenne pepper up her vagina
  • swallowing lye
  • swallowing gunpowder
  • throwing herself down the stairs
  • hitting her stomach with a meat pulverizer
  • hitting her stomach with a brickbat
  • spending a night in the snow
  • bathing herself in scalding water
  • consuming turpentine
  • consuming pulverized Spanish fly
  • consuming opium
  • consuming ergot, a fungus, which was especially effective at ending pregnancies, while at the same time bringing on gangrene, psychosis and death
  • consuming Tansy oil, which rots internal organs
  • probing herself with a knitting needle or the infamous hanger, which could cause infection, sterility, permanent injury, puncture, hemorrhage, and death
  • This is where we've come from. And we can never go back.

    Leeches, Lye and Spanish Fly [NYT]
    image via Photocrea/ shutterstock