Abortion is now prohibited in these states. See where the laws have changed.
But a few states have done nothing at all, and now confusion reigns over whether the old laws are going into effect again.
In Arizona, a 15-week abortion ban will go into effect this fall, but the Republican state attorney general is trying to immediately enforce a tougher 1901 law.
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) is fighting a 1931 law that would ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Abortion remains legal there by court order.
In West Virginia, an 1849 law — before West Virginia was even a state — that makes abortion a crime, is enforceable, according to the Republican state attorney general.
And in Wisconsin, the Democratic attorney general is fighting enforcement of a law, also from 1849, that makes it a crime to perform an abortion unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life. The Democratic governor said he would grant clemency to anyone charged under it.
She survived forced sterilization. Activists fear more will happen after Roe.
For many women, it is shocking to consider resurrecting laws from a bygone era when women’s rights were significantly restricted.
In 1849, West Virginia was still part of Virginia. (The Trans-Allegheny region did not break up before the Civil War.) Women of any race or class had difficult lives and few rights.
In 1850, there were approximately 10,000 enslaved black women in the counties that became West Virginia. These women had no control over their financial, professional, political or sexual lives. They could not legally marry and there was no legal protection against sexual assault. Many enslaved women, especially in Virginia, were victims of rape and forced reproduction. They weren’t allowed to travel, so they couldn’t have crossed state lines to get an abortion. Some enslaved people brought abortive drink recipes with them from Africa, but access to these would have been inconsistent at best.
Even the most privileged women of what would become West Virginia had few rights. Rebecca Harding Davis was a white woman born into an upper-middle-class family and educated through tutors and private schools. She began a career as a journalist and novelist. Her escapist work, “Life in the Iron Mills”, detailed the plight of immigrants in the mills and mines around her. But she lost some of her rights when she married, since Virginia denied married women any property rights, with one lawmaker arguing that a woman with such a right would destroy the entire institution of marriage.
Wisconsin was a progressive state from its inception, at least relative to the others. In the 1840s, when it passed its abortion law, its legislators took the drastic step of considering give women the right to vote in the state Constitution, before deciding against it, according to the Office of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin. As a local newspaper columnist put it shortly after, “women are angels, and angels don’t vote.”
Married women in Wisconsin were granted some property rights in 1850, although they were still prohibited from writing their own wills or controlling their wages. The University of Wisconsin, which was founded in 1848, the same year as the state, allowed women to enroll as early as 1863, though it was largely a business move to spur registrations during the Civil War. Even then, female students could only study teaching.
When Divorce Was Widely Banned, Desperate Women Went to South Dakota
Few black women lived in Wisconsin, even though it was a free state, and many white residents were involved in abolition and the Underground Railroad. For indigenous women, however, there was almost no freedom of movement. For years, settlers and traders sexually exploited them and drove them off their land, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. In 1850, the federal government lured thousands of Wisconsin Natives to Minnesota, including 18-year-old Ojibwe Julia Spears. She later described seeing hundreds of adults and children die of starvation and disease in what is now called the Sandy Lake tragedy.
Arizona was still a territory when it passed its abortion law in 1901, but the fight for women’s suffrage was in full swing. Bills granting women the right to vote in 1883 and 1891 had failed. Two other bills passed but were vetoed by the governors. A narrower law, which gave taxpayer mothers of school-aged children the right to vote in school board elections, was struck down by the court. At Arizona’s 1911 constitutional convention to become a state, women’s suffrage again failed.
Frances W. Munds of Prescott was there for it all. She was already a member of suffrage organizations when she married a cattle rancher in 1890. She was the mother of young children as she rose through the ranks of these organizations, where she pushed for the inclusion of Mormon women in the movement. Finally, after campaigning for a suffrage initiative, Arizona women won the right to vote in 1912, eight years before the 19th Amendment. When she was elected to the State Senate two years later, local newspapers nicknamed her “Mrs. JL Munds” – the name of her husband, a common practice for newspapers in the country.
It will be decades before Native and Hispanic women in Arizona can vote.
Although black women gained the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, many were still unable to exercise this right. In 1931 — the year Michigan passed its abortion law — Fannie B. Peck, the Detroit preacher’s wife, was focusing on a different kind of voting: voting with your dollars.
Peck started the Housewives’ League of Detroit in 1930 to encourage black women to shop only at black-owned businesses and businesses that hired black employees. Their motto was “Don’t buy where you can’t work” – but that was somewhat symbolic, given that only 22% of women were in the labor force nationally. at the time, according to census data.
Michigan women could not open their own bank accounts either. In 1932, as a Great Depression-era federal government In addition, employed women were forced to quit their jobs if their husbands were also working.
Nationally, many rights for women were still years or even decades away, according to the National Women’s History Alliance, including receiving a minimum wage equal to men’s (1938), serving on juries without restriction ( 1975), use birth control (1965), keep a job after becoming pregnant (1975), enlist as a full member of the military (1948), serve in combat (2013), attend a the Ivy League (1983), owning a credit card (1974) and filing a complaint for sexual assault against a spouse (1993).