13 Most Distressing Ways In Which Women Were Forced To Have Abortions

13 Most Distressing Ways In Which Women Were Forced To Have Abortions

As long as humanity has existed, women have been fighting for their rights. Be it the right to express, right to take decisions for themselves, their clothes, their own body, their marriage or their entire life. And guess what? Women are still fighting!
It’s sad that living in 2018, we as women are still asking for equality, we’re still talking about how rapes affect a woman’s life, how forced abortions are not ethical and what not!

Going back to the past and talking about the “Most distressing ways in which women were forced to have abortions” back then, my heart aches but at the same time hopes that ‘women generations to come’ don’t have to battle in pools of blood or of painful medical complications caused intentionally, in any part of the world. Take a look and this is sure to give you cold shivers.


  1. Inserting materials like coat hanger, needle, whale bone, turkey feathers or anything that’s long enough to remove the foetus.


2. Urinary catheters, forceps etc. were also used for abortion in the twentieth century.


3.  Inserting solutions of deteriorating nature was also a practice followed long back. Enema syringe with soap solution and chemicals like alum, Lysol, permanganate were subjected into the vagina hoping to destroy the foetus but also caused irreparable damage to their health.


4. Tampons mixed with crushed ants, camel hair, camel’s mouth foam, hair of deer’s mixed in bear fat were inserted in the vagina to cause an infection thereby leading to abortion. Even though there are no confirmed reasons, leeches were also inserted into the vagina to kill the foetus.


5. Women were also made to consume toxic substances orally like toxic local plants infused into drinks, drinking Pennyroyal tea, swallowing lye or gunpowder, pulverized Spanish fly (a poisonous insect) , opium, ergot and even tansy oil which could destroy the internal organs. These all had negative effects on the pregnant mother too either killing her or causing irreparable damage.


6. Some women were also made to take hot scalding bath in hopes of the vaginal membranes opening up and rejecting the foetus.


7. As per instructions in an old Sanskrit book, they were made to squat over boiling onions.


8. Shock therapy: Using psychological shock to cause abortion by suddenly pulling a teeth without anaesthesia or getting a dog to bite the pregnant women etc.


9. By lowering their body temperature by lying on cold leading the body to go in shock.

10. Injury to area around the abdomen was believed to cause abortion and women used to throw themselves down the stairs or hit their stomach using a bat to cause damage. This caused other physical injuries too and also in case of failure, deformed babies were borne.

11. They also took part in strenuous exercises or make strong men shake them with all their might to cause abortion.

12. Bleeding the pregnant women dry by causing menstruation was another horrible and inhumane method.

13. Women wore dresses which were extremely tight around the waist region to cause an abortion. Starving was another option to wither away the foetus.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Govind S. Kurup, our intern.

Ishita Kapoor

Ishita Kapoor