Before Roe v. Wade

Forty years ago, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. Some of our physicians witnessed firsthand the horror and tragic consequences of illegal abortion, and the suffering they saw moved these men and women to push for safe, legal abortion for anyone who needs that care. Their experiences inspire us to keep going until abortion is truly accessible throughout the nation, without restrictions that hurt women and their families. We honor their stories by sharing them here: with Voices of Choice, a 24-minute documentary created in 2003, and with profiles of doctors who were involved in abortion care and reform prior to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

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Remembering Dr. Howard Jones

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Dr. Jones’ most recent book, published in 2014

We are saddened to hear of the passing of founding Physicians member and friend, Dr. Howard Jones, at 104. A pioneer in medicine, Dr. Jones’ medical career and contributions to reproductive health care could not have been more varied, influential, or robust. Even late in life, he was a profound reproductive right advocate. Even past the age of 100, Dr. Jones was still publishing books and scholarly works. At 100, he submitted testimony on Physicians’ behalf in opposition to TRAP laws in Virginia. Dr. Jones wrote:

I remember the days before abortion was legal. I saw many patients who had self-induced abortions because at that time there was no legal way to end a pregnancy. I saw women who had become infected and had to be admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where I worked. These patients were often extremely ill and some of them died….This will happen again if legal abortion is not readily available to those who seek it.

Dr. Jones’ contributions to reproductive medicine are incomparable, and we feel privileged to have known him. 

Remembering Dr. Tiller

Dr. George TIllerSix years ago, we lost a dear friend, a brilliant and compassionate physician, and a true hero. Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church by an anti-choice extremist. While we will never fully be able to forget the tragic loss of this day, we also will take the opportunity to celebrate Dr. Tiller’s life and work and share the ways in which he inspired and touched us all.

Our memories of Dr. Tiller are still quite vivid. Here are a few videos and written profiles that offer a small snapshot of the incredible and brave physician that he was:
Video: Dr. Tiller talks about how he became a provider
Video: Dr. Tiller explains why he continued his work, despite repeated harassment and violence
Video: Voices of Choice, our documentary about pre-Roe abortion providers, featuring Dr. Tiller
Oral history: “I have more to be grateful for than I have to be resentful about.”
Profile: A 1998 portrait of Dr. Tiller 

On Roe’s 41st Anniversary, Looking Back

Voices of ChoiceForty one years ago, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. To mark the anniversary today, we share our short documentary, Voices of Choice: Physicians Who Provided Abortions Before Roe v. Wade.

This video features physicians and advocates who helped as many women as they could before the legalization of abortion: Bylle Avery, our board member Dr. Curtis Boyd, Dr. Eugene Glick (1929-2010), Dr. Mildred Hanson, Reverend Howard Moody (1921-2012), Dr. George Tiller (1941-2009), and more.

The suffering they saw moved these men and women to push for safe, legal abortion for anyone who needs that care.  Now more than ever, their experiences inspire us and remind us why we won’t stop fighting until abortion is truly accessible to all across the United States, without needless restrictions that hurt women and their families.

Watch Voices of Choice today. 

Remembering Dr. Thomas Allen

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health mourns the death of Thomas Allen, MD, an ob/gyn, abortion provider, outspoken advocate for comprehensive reproductive health care, and PRCH supporter. Dr. Allen, who provided abortions within the hospital system in Pennsylvania beginning in the 1940s, participated in our documentary and multimedia project, Voices of Choice. PRCH celebrates his courage, compassion, and belief in social justice. Thank you, Dr. Allen, for speaking out and helping women. About the Roe v. Wade decision, Dr. Allen said, “The essence of the whole debate is that women should have control over their bodies and their reproductive rights without interference of the state.” Read his account of being a pre-Roe provider here.