What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

Hands (made into fists, then used to strike the stomach repeatedly) Heavy weights (lifted repeatedly or applied to the stomach) Herbs (picked or purchased, then swallowed or forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Or, an incomplete inventory of methods and means to abortion—undertaken with varying levels of success and the ever-present possibility of death—in America before the passage of Roe v. Wade

Lola Rose Thompson, Over-Tired Ingenue.

Acid (swallowed)
Air (blown into the uterus through a turkey baster or syringe)
Aloe vera (juiced, then swallowed)
Arak (swallowed)
Avocado leaves (picked, ground, boiled, then swallowed)

Ballpoint pen (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Bicycle spoke (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
“Bitter concoction” (swallowed)
Black beer (boiled with oregano, soap, and parsley, then swallowed)
Bougie (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Castor oil (swallowed)
Celery (boiled with aspirin, then swallowed)
Chicken bone (cleaned, then forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Cholera injections (shot into the muscles of the cervix)
Coat hanger (bent, then forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Coca-Cola bottle (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Cottonseed oil (swallowed)
Cotton root bark (boiled, then swallowed)
Crochet hook (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Dehydration (enacted)
Doctor willing to perform one illegally (found, paid, profusely thanked)
“Dr. Reeder’s chalybeate, for female weakness” (swallowed)

Ergot of rye (swallowed)

Flight (taken somewhere with legal abortion)
Flight of stairs (intentionally tripped down)

Green beans (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Gunpowder (swallowed or forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Hands (made into fists, then used to strike the stomach repeatedly)
Heavy weights (lifted repeatedly or applied to the stomach)
Herbs (picked or purchased, then swallowed or forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Knitting needle (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Ladder (jumped from)
Laundry bluing (swallowed)
Laundry detergent (swallowed)
Leeches (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Lysol mixed with chili peppers (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Midwife willing to perform one illegally (found, paid, profusely thanked)
Misoprostol (swallowed)
Mistletoe (picked or purchased, boiled, then swallowed)

Nurse willing to perform one illegally (found, paid, profusely thanked)

Okra pods (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Oral contraceptives (swallowed)
Oxytocin (swallowed)

Pennyroyal oil (swallowed)
Pennyroyal (boiled, then swallowed)
Potassium permanganate tablets (swallowed)
Prayer (repeated)
Pressure (repeatedly applied to the stomach)

Quinine pills (swallowed)

Roof (jumped from)

Scalding water (bathed in)
Scissors (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Soap (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Starvation (enacted)
Stick, sometimes dipped in oil (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)
Spanish fly (crushed, then eaten)
Sugar lumps (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

Tansy oil (swallowed)
Tea made of livestock manure (swallowed)
Turpentine (swallowed or inserted into the vagina)

Vitamin C (swallowed in high doses)

Water of boiled rusty nails (swallowed)
Wire (forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

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