Early Alignments

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Reproducing Patriarchy: Reproductive Rights Under Siege
by Pam Chamberlain and Jean Hardisty
The Public Eye Magazine - Vo. 14, No. 1

The formation of anti-abortion sectors developed over time. Their roots stretch back to the earliest organized resistance to abortion in this country, when physicians reacted to unregulated abortion practitioners in the 19th century. In 1847, doctors created the American Medical Association to delegitimize their non-licensed competition (who were often midwives and/or successful businesswomen) and retain control over gynecology. They claimed that the widespread practice of abortion was dangerous for women's health.2 Throughout the early 20th century, many states passed legislation outlawing the practice of abortion at the state level. By 1967, it was illegal to obtain an abortion in any of the 50 states unless the life of the mother was threatened by her pregnancy.3

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