The divisive battle over abortion has flared up once more with the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft majority opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision affirming the right to abortion nationwide. In his draft opinion, Alito drew on the work of certain historians and concluded the right to abortion was not rooted in the country’s “history or tradition.”
But that view of history is the subject of great dispute. Though interpretations differ, most scholars who have investigated the history of abortion argue that terminating a pregnancy wasn’t always illegal—or even controversial. Here’s what they say about the nation’s long, complicated relationship with abortion.
In colonial America and the early days