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This Viral Video Of A Girl Explaining Things She Never Realized About Abortion Has Some Truth To It

Abortion became illegal during the same time period when slavery was abolished.

Recently, during my daily TikTok therapy scroll, I stumbled upon this video about why abortion was first outlawed:

@ava_quick

they said it was “murder” and a “sin” to guilt everyone. It’s a political debate because it affected mens profit 🤡 #prochoice #politics #fyp #xyzbca

♬ original sound - Ava Quick

TikTok user @ava_quick explained how, at school, she learned that abortion was never illegal until the 1860s — the same time period when slavery was abolished. And, since white men were losing their slaves, they wanted more kids to do free work for them. So, she came to the realization that abortion was never really about murder.

@ava_quick / tiktok.com

This really left me curious to know more and — because the TikTok had over eight million views — I assumed others might be curious as well.

Before we dive into the specific claims made in the TikTok, let's discuss the history of abortion in general. BuzzFeed spoke to law professor, historian, and author Mary Zeigler who said abortion methods have been around for centuries, in almost every culture and civilization. "If we zoom in on the United States, until the late nineteenth century, most states did make abortion illegal, but only later in pregnancy — at the point of quickening, when fetal movement could be detected," she explained.

Stock image of a health clinic.
Catherine Mcqueen / Getty Images

According to the American Pregnancy Association, quickening can happen as early as 13 weeks or as late as 25 weeks.

In 1857, a doctor named Horatio Storer led the American Medical Association (AMA) in a campaign to criminalize all abortions. While Storer did argue in favor of life beginning at fertilization and not quickening (when fetal movements can be felt), one of his main agendas was to prove that physicians were superior to midwives and other practitioners who were competing for business at the time. "The argument that abortion was murder — and that it was immoral — was central to Storer's campaign. However, the campaign had self-interest. Talking about abortion allowed doctors like Storer to claim that they were better informed and had more moral scruples," she said, adding that Storer was Harvard-educated.

Text of abortion from a dictionary.
Casimiro / Getty Images

But, that wasn't Storer's only reason for wanting to criminalize and outlaw abortion. He also enacted racial bias. He thought that wealthy, educated white women were the main people having abortions because he believed low-income immigrants had more children in general. "Storer wanted the law to ensure that more of the 'better class of women' would have children. This effort was very successful. By the time he retired in the 1870s, virtually every state criminalized abortion — unless a woman's life was at risk," Zeigler told BuzzFeed.

Text of abortion law with gavel and stethoscope.
Ericsphotography / Getty Images

So, now that we have a brief overview of the history of abortion, let's talk about what was discussed in the TikTok and if there may be any truth to it.

Screenshot from the TikTok with questioning emojis.
@ava_quick / tiktok.com

There is a correlation in the time period of the abolition of slavery and the outlawing of abortion, just as the TikTok suggests. And, Zeigler said it is possible that some Southerners may have supported the movement to criminalize abortion on the basis that they could have more children do work for free.

Stock image from a pro-life march in the nineteenth century.
Ann E. Zelle / Getty Images

However, she believes that the leaders of the movement had different agendas. "The forces behind the criminalization of abortion began work in the Northeast, not the South. Those in the South upset about the abolition of slavery were focused on the creation of a peonage sharecropping system, centered on segregation, that would function almost identically to slavery," she said.

Stock image of slavery being abolished in Missouri.
Mpi / Getty Images

In summary, there may be some truth to the TikTok. But, the movement to make abortion illegal was being pushed mainly on behalf of the AMA and Storer trying to prevent wealthy, educated white women from having control over their own body.

Stock image of a planner with a date set to get an abortion.
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

And, if we are discussing morals, someone arguing that an outlaw of abortion would lead to a "better class of women" is pretty contradicting if you ask me! Anyway, I hope this post was informative in some way. Special thanks to Mary Zeigler for her professional insight.

TriStar Pictures

If you want to learn more about abortion, you can check out Zeigler's recent book — Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present.