The Army of Three
Making Abortion Public
The radical U.S. movement for abortion began in 1959 when a woman in California named Patricia Maginnis got pregnant for the third time.Pat Maginnis was a very fertile woman, but she did not want to have children. The first time her contraception failed, she went to Mexico, where abortions were illegal but relatively available. When she came back, she swore she would never again leave this country for medical care she considered to be her right.
One year later, Pat's contraception failed again. Pat didn't know how to find a safe illegal abortionist in the United States, but she did know enough about her own body to figure out how to try to end her pregnancy herself. She stuck a catheter—a hollow piece of plastic tubing—up her vagina, through her cervical os, and into her uterus. She gave herself a terrible infection and nearly died in the process, but in her sixth month she did finally miscarry.
The very next year, Pat's contraception failed again. She still didn't know how to find a good illegal abortionist, but she did have a better idea of how to end her pregnancy herself. She didn't want to run the risk of poking a catheter into her uterine walls again, so this