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‘I was worried I had been permanently mutilated’: what abortion was like before Roe v Wade

In 1968, Ann Hill discovered she was pregnant while a law student. With abortion illegal, she was forced to have a backstreet operation. She explains how it inspired her to become a women’s rights campaigner

When the doctor told me I was pregnant, he said most women were “extremely happy” with this news. I said: “Well, I’m not, and I would like to end this pregnancy.” He told me I would have to go before a committee at the hospital to determine whether a termination was necessary to save my life, including a psychiatrist’s report, and that it would take several weeks. And what would be the chance they would agree? “I can’t help you,” he said.

It was 1968 and I was 22, living in New Haven, Connecticut, and in my first month at Yale Law School. I knew straight away that I was not going to carry a pregnancy to term, that I was very early on in the pregnancy and that it should not be a major procedure.

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