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January 16, 1967


JAMA. 1967;199(3):211-212. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120030115025

The laws governing therapeutic abortion in the United States vary somewhat in phraseology. Basically, however, in 45 states the laws permit induced termination of pregnancy only to save or preserve the life of the mother, and in the remaining 5 states and the District of Columbia, to protect the health or safety of the mother. The majority of these laws were enacted about 100 years ago when diabetes, heart and kidney disease, tuberculosis, toxemia, and a host of other diseases exacted a high maternal death toll, when the technique of evacuating the uterus entailed an appreciable morbidity and mortality, when psychiatry was in its infancy, and when the hazards of maternal rubella were unknown. Today, with modern prenatal, obstetrical, and postpartum care, it is an unusual pregnancy which cannot safely be carried to term. Yet, each year in the United States approximately 10,000 pregnancies are terminated by licensed physicians in