Before 1973, when abortion in the United States was illegal, women seeking abortions, more often than not, worked through an underground network of doctors who were willing to take risks of being arrested and jailed.
These procedures often took place under dangerous circumstances, frequently resulting in permanent reproductive damage or death. There were many women who could not afford or have access to these "underground" doctors. They would self-induce abortions with coat hangers, or throw themselves down stairs, or give birth to an unwanted child. Besides bodily damage and pain, many carried with them life-long shame and guilt.
In 1973, the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade changed the landscape by ruling that women in the United States could legally access safe abortions. This meant women finally could make their own health decisions with their doctors. Soon after this Supreme Court ruling, the mortality rate from abortions dropped dramatically.
Since 1973, however, access to abortions has been under attack. In the years following this decision, more than a thousand state laws have been enacted making it harder, if not impossible, to get an abortion. In 2017, reported by the Guttmacher Institute, "States continued their assault on abortion, with 19 states adopting 63 new restrictions on abortion rights and access." They went on to report that "58% of American women of reproductive age lived in a state considered either hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights in 2017. Only 30% of women lived in a state supportive of abortion rights."