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Oskar Diethelm Library, Weill Cornell Medical College

19th century America

In early 19th century America, there are advertisements documenting the availability of female abortionists and pharmaceutical advertisements for abortifacients. The regulations for abortion began to be determined by a state-by-state basis at this time. Included is an example of a definition of abortion from 1824, which mentions the possibility of inducing it through medicines.

The pharmaceutical advertisements from the Diethelm Library’s collections displayed on this page are specifically for Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. Other abortifacients that were marketed in coded terms during this period included the Hardy's Woman's Friend, Madame Drunette's Lunar Pills, Farrer's Catholic Pills, and Dr. Peter's French Renovating Pills, often with ingredients such as pennyroyal, tansy, and savin. Historian Ann Hibner Koblitz comments that "Nineteenth-century customers would have understood this 'warning' exactly as the sellers intended: as an advertisement for an abortifacient preparation."