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History As It Happens

May 19, 2022

Long before Roe v. Wade established a constitutional right to an abortion -- indeed, centuries before abortion became one of the most divisive issues in American society -- ending a pregnancy before "quickening" was commonplace in the colonial era and not very controversial, either. That began to change in the mid-nineteenth century when some medical professionals joined a campaign to criminalize all abortions, led by Dr. Horatio Storer. In this episode, historians Anna Peterson and Eric Foner discuss the history of abortion before Roe and the origins, purposes, and legacy of the Fourteenth Amendment, which laid the foundation for Roe v. Wade a century after it was ratified in the wake of the Civil War.