… it is unhelpful to cast the tone of “dark and desperate choices” when referring to what the future holds for most, even as abortion access wanes in this country. Because of this, we no longer give out hanger pendants, but do still believe in fighting like hell to ensure that we do not return to a world where the only options for people seeking abortion care are silence, stigma, shame, and unsafe conditions.
this story was first printed in The Atlantic in 2012. Is probably more appropriate today than when first printed.
A twisted piece of wire isn’t just a symbol of dangerous abortions; it’s a symbol of inequality.
This was in 1954, when abortion was illegal in America. If you are one of the roughly 160 million Americans born after 1973 (the majority of population), abortion has been legal all of your life, though depending on where you live and your resources, actually getting one may not always be easy or even possible.
We all think we know what the hanger means: dangerous, illegal abortions. It is a tool of last resort, a hack of a household object, conjured out of desperation when nothing else would suffice. That alone is significant because the most basic point, as Reagan and other historians have shown over and over again, is that even in the age of illegal abortions, women still had abortions — many, many abortions. Making something illegal doesn’t make it disappear. Abortion, during the century of its criminalization, was common, though its prevalence varied with the generations.
Remember this: In the Twenties, alcohol was prohibited… PROHIBITION… which made alcohol illegal but did not prohibit the use of alcohol in any shape or form.