Abortion Care in the U.S. and its impact on Transgender Reproductive Care

Abortion Care in the U.S. and its impact on Transgender Reproductive Care

Abortion access and care has been a key topic in American politics and it is one reason speculated for the success of democrats in this latest midterm election [1]. In light of that I would like to talk about how abortion rights affect every marginalized group, not just cisgender women. First though a little history on abortions throughout the U.S.

Abortions have been a major piece of American history from as early as 1600. “Abortion was frequently practiced in North America during the period from 1600 to 1900. Many tribal societies knew how to induce abortions. They used a variety of methods including the use of black root and cedar root as abortifacient agents.” [2] This aligns with other medical texts [3] and newpaper articles [4] from the late 1700s, early 1800s which described the herbal and medicinal abortions more frequently than surgical procedures as surgical abortions were quite rare. Until the mid 1800s abortions were legal and a normal part of AFAB peoples healthcare. “Common law allowed abortion proper to ‘quickening’ - an archaic term for fetal movement that usually happens around four months of pregnancy.” [5] Unfortunately, this did not apply to enslaved black women as they were seen as property and many slave owners did not permit abortions. This led to many abortions happening in secret. (foreshadowing)

Prior to the first abortion laws, the field was unregulated and mainly composed of skilled midwives, nurses, and other unlicensed women’s healthcare providers. During this time, white men were generally not involved in the kind of OB/GYN care practiced today, rather women, more than half of whom were black, some who were enslaved, accounted for the practitioners of AFAB reproductive health. Around the time of the Civil War, male physicians, policy makers, the catholic church, and others who wanted even more power and control over women and their bodies, began a push for state government bans on abortions. By 1910 there was a nationwide ban on abortions, though wealthy white people were able to ignore the law as seems ever prevalent. In 1960 11 states had repealed their bans and by 1973 the supreme court had established abortion as a legal right with Roe V. Wade. (RIP) Unfortunately, abortions were still more challenging to access for those of the lowest means. One of these laws is the Hyde Amendment [6] which is extremely important, but is too deep a topic for our show to tackle today. If you are interested, Planned Parenthood has some incredible resources and history which I have used a lot of in the earliest parts of this piece. Linked in our episode description. 

Now, all of that history showing institutional racism and sexism… how does this effect queer or trans people, especially AMAB people you may be asking, Ill get there.

In 2019 a study of 18 and older transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expanisve people who were assigned female or intersex at birth was performed to determine what the needs of this population regarding reproductive healthcare might be. Overall, the study determined that the best way to protect trans and nonbinary individuals seeking reproductive healthcare is for clinics to adopt gender inclusive language everywhere, including medical records, and that greater privacy be incorporated into and around these clinics. [7] Studies like these improve the understanding and needs from the trans community, especially on topics that focus primarily on cis people, like abortion rights. But how do abortions affect AMAB people. Unfortunately this is one area where I do not sources and will have to rely on my own thoughts and experiences.

I am a woman. Flat out. Anyone who tries to tell you differently is wrong and a liar. I am in the group of people being targeted with restrictions to bodies and rights. I may not ever need an abortion, but I am still subject to the secondary effects of abortion legislation such as stigma, higher rates of violence, and a path for more restrictions and criminalization. Additionally as a trans individual who receives care and hormones from Planned Parenthood, one of the biggest providers of abortions nation wide, I am at risk of losing access to one of the necessary medical procedures keeping me alive, especially since Planned Parenthood is a major target with abortion restrictions. Abortion rights are not just about the actual abortion procedures, they are about the empowerment of women, trans people, and anyone who gives a damn about a persons bodily autonomy. Everyone, especially trans and BIPOC individuals are affected by abortion rights. Don't let old white men determine what is best for us, for you, when it comes to your medical and bodily decisions.


[1]: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/abortion-law-2022-midterm-elections/

[2]: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10297561/#:~:text=PIP%3A%20Abortion%20was%20frequently%20practiced,cedar%20root%20as%20abortifacient%20agents.

[3]: https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2003/03/lessons-roe-will-past-be-prologue

[4]: https://www.cnn.com/2016/06/23/health/abortion-history-in-united-states/index.html

[5]: https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/abortion-central-history-reproductive-health-care-america

[6]: https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/federal-and-state-bans-and-restrictions-abortion/hyde-amendment

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