Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Anna Marie Smith
Abortion is a general term for several different medical procedures that terminate a woman's pregnancy. From a political theory perspective, abortion connotes a dimension of a woman's right to control her own body and to exercise her right to autonomy. Women from many different cultures have been using folk methods for contraceptive and abortion purposes for centuries. By the turn of the twentieth century, laws in effect throughout the United States made abortion illegal. Significant numbers of women nevertheless continued to seek abortions; it is estimated that as many as one million abortions were performed each year during the 1950s and 1960s. Although the rise of sexual permissiveness is sometimes narrowly associated with the 1960s counterculture, women from all walks of life placed a new emphasis on controlling their reproduction at this time as they entered the workforce and higher education in unprecedented numbers and asserted their right to satisfying ...