What Is Abortion?

Last Updated: 4/29/2020

The decision to end a pregnancy is a very personal decision. The best thing you can do is get educated on what abortion is, how it affects the body, and other implications (legal, financial, etc.).

There are two primary reasons an abortion will occur: unplanned pregnancy and medical. A majority of the abortions that happen are due to unplanned pregnancies either having sex without protection or birth control. In many cases when doctors can prove that the fetus is abnormal, or something happens to the fetus, then a medical abortion will be scheduled.


There are two main types of abortion: medical abortion (pill) and surgical abortion.

Abortion Types


Average cost of an abortion is between $350 and $950. There is help available.

Abortion Fees


Did you know there are 186 abortions for every 1,000 live births?


History of Abortion

Abortion has been performed for thousands of years and is in every society and country. It's not a new process or medical procedure. A lot of people look at the history of abortion and stop at the prominent case of Roe v. Wade which made abortion legal.

What is Roe v. Wade?
Roe v. Wade is a court case in 1973 and was a "landmark decision" made by the United States Supreme Court which ruled that the Constitution of the United States protected a pregnant woman's liberty to abort or not.

Before we jump into other prominent cases of abortion we need to take a step back and look at why those cases happened and why abortion is so controversial.

In the mid-to-late 1800s states started to pass laws that made abortion illegal. Earlier theories were that people were scared that immigrants coming from across the world would start to have children and soon the "natives" would be outnumbered.

It's no secret that medical facilities in the 1800s do not have the technology and expertise we do now. Abortions back then were a very risky procedure. Even with abortion, infant and maternal mortality rates were extremely high.

Over time medical procedures, namely abortion, started to get much safer and more effective. The term "back-alley abortion" started to be coined as women who were not able to afford the cost of abortion would find illegal practioners to handle the procedure. These types of abortion still happen today and that's why it's critical to do your research and find a reputable abortion doctor.

Abortion in the United States was banned in the 1880s. The abortion ban lasted until 1973 when Roe v. Wade hit the U.S. Supreme Court. During this time period "back alley abortions" were at an all time high.

What is a "back-alley abortion"?
A back-alley abortion is jargon which technically means unsafe abortion. An unsafe abortion is when a person who lacks the necessary skills or equipment to properly handle the procedure does so at a much cheaper cost to the mother.

The case of Roe v. Wade opened the door for young women to get safe, and legal, abortions from medically trained professionals. The levels of pregnancy-related injury and death was reduced dramatically with mothers seeking help from licensed professionals.

What's On This Page:
  • What Is Abortion?
  • History of Abortion
  • Abortion Timeline
  • Useful Links


Abortion Timeline


First laws passed limiting abortion.

Connecticut passes the first law in the United States banning abortions after "quickening".


20 states total have started to limit abortion.


Contraception is starting to be discussed.

The case of Griswold V. Connecticut saw the courts removing a law the prohibited giving married people information, instruction, or medical advice on contraception and how to use it.


Colorado is the first state to remove abortion laws.


More states liberate their abortion laws.

Alaska, Hawaii, New York, and Washington remove abortion laws and allow abortion available at the request of the woman and her doctor.


Unmarried people are allowed contraceptives.


Roe v. Wade

The USA Supreme Court struck down laws that made medical abortion illegal in every state.


Medicaid removed funding to provide abortions to low-income women.


Federally funded doctors cannot refer patients for abortion.

Rust v. Sullivan upheld the "gag rule" of 1988 which prohibits doctors who get federal funding from referring patients for abortion or even just information about abortion.


FACE Act is passed protecting people seeking abortion information from physical harm.


Abortion Pill

The FDA approves mifepristone (abortion pill) as an option to terminate pregnancy.


George W. Bush signed into a law a ban on abortions.


Abortion Ban Overruled

The NAF wins a lawsuit against the federal abortion ban and gets it lifted.