African-American women and abortion: a neglected history

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1992 Fall;3(2):274-84. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2010.0241.


The history of African-American women's efforts to control their fertility is largely unknown. From slavery to the present, the growth rate of the African-American population has been cut in half. Demographers and historians frequently attribute this change to external factors such as poverty, disease, and coerced birth control, rather than the deliberate agency of African-American women. This essay assembles a brief historical record of the ways African-American women have sought to control their fertility through the use of abortion and birth control. It also examines the activism of African-American women in the establishment of family planning clinics and in defense of abortion rights.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Criminal / history
  • Black or African American / history*
  • Eugenics / history
  • Family Planning Policy / history
  • Female
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • United States
  • Women's Rights / history*
  • Women's Rights / legislation & jurisprudence