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date: 14 April 2024


The Oxford Encyclopedia Women in World History
Johanna SchoenJohanna Schoen, Amy KalerAmy Kaler, Susanne M. KlausenSusanne M. Klausen

This entry consists of three subentries:


Comparative History


Throughout time women have turned to abortion to terminate unwanted pregnancies, and religious, medical, and state authorities have sought to control women's access to the procedure. The role that authorities played in controlling access to abortion changed significantly over time. Physicians and medical writers, for instance, sometimes disseminated information about abortion and performed abortions; at other times they lobbied for criminalization. At various times and places state authorities permitted and regulated abortions or prohibited the practice and prosecuted those involved. Church authorities were slow to take a position on the issue but over time moved toward greater restriction of information about birth control and abortion. Eventually religious doctrine and the law of states converged to criminalize abortion. Only in recent decades has this trend begun to reverse.... ...

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