The 200-year history of abortion in America goes back way beyond 1973.
For those who support abortion, there is a tendency to argue that it has always been widely practiced and broadly accepted. Those who oppose abortion, however, generally argue that its permissive and widespread use is a recent phenomena. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Anyone who is honestly interested in the history of abortion in the United States, and is willing to put in the time to get it, need look no further than Marvin Olasky's Abortion Rites. It is thorough, honest, meticulously well-researched, and will defy the over-simplified history that people on both sides of the debate often give it.
For those who support legal abortion, there is a tendency to argue that abortion has always been widely practiced and broadly accepted in America. Those who oppose abortion generally argue that the permissive and widespread use of abortion is a recent phenomena. The research of Mr. Olasky puts the truth somewhere in between. On the one hand, abortion has been used with alarming frequency for much of the nation's history. On the other hand, though abortion has long been popular on the fringes of society, it was not until recently that it began to enjoy anything like "mainstream" support. The research provided in Abortion Rites is the foundation for the brief survey of abortion history below. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes come from Mr. Olasky's book.