The Criminalization of Abortion Began as a Business Tactic

The Criminalization of Abortion Began as a Business Tactic

“If you opened up the Leavenworth Times, a Kansas newspaper, in the 1850s, you’d see an ad for Sir James Clarke’s Female Pills. These pills, the advertiser bragged, were ideal for bringing on women’s periods—and were “particularly suited to married ladies.”

“Then there was Madame Costello, a “female physician” who took out an ad in the New York Herald in the 1840s. She advertised to women “who wish to be treated for obstruction of the monthly period.”

“Both ads ran in plain sight, among advertisements for real estate and hair tonics. Both advertised abortions. And for a reader of the time, neither would have raised an eyebrow. Pregnancy was dangerous, and the consequences faced by unwed mothers were severe.”

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