As long as humanity has existed, the female sex has been dominated over, subjected to inhumane things. 

Unsafe, torturous methods of abortion have been mercilessly used on women. These techniques that have been used through the ages will make you want to crawl inside your blanket for comfort.

1. Inserting a coat hanger or a knitting needle to detach fetus.

These sharp, pointed objects were used to detach the fetus and cause abortion.


2. Desperate attempts also include usage of whalebone or turkey feathers.

Anything long enough to enter the uterus was used as a means to detach the fetus.


3. During the twentieth century, illegal abortions used scary instruments such as urinary catheters, forceps and speculum.

People could not possess proper equipment due to fear of getting discovered as abortionists. Thus they resorted to these make-shift equipments.

Laia Abril/INSTITUTE/HopesandFears

4. Enema syringe was just inserted into the uterus with soap solution.

The syringe was supposed to damage the fetus and thus cause an abortion. Probably, the knitting needle idea was inspired from here.

Laia Abril/INSTITUTE/HopesandFears

5. Toxic local plants were infused into a cocktail and consumed.

This plants were supposed to be strong enough to kill the fetus.


6. Tampons with a mixture of crushed ants, camel hair, foam from camels’ mouths and tail hairs of black-tail deer dissolved in bear fat.

This mixture was shoved into the vagina. The infectious mixture can obviously kill the fetus while also cause an infection.


8. Taking a hot scalding bath to detach the fetus.

They hoped that their vaginal mucus membranes open and cause their body to reject the fetus.


9. Women were made to squat over a boiling pot of onions.

Apparently, the belief originated from an 8th century Sanskrit text that recommended this method for abortion.


10. Inducing shock through pulling out a teeth without anaesthesia, or getting the pregnant woman bitten by a dog.

This was part of ‘shock therapy’ which was believed to cause an abortion.


11. Inserting chemical mixtures like Lysol, alum, permanganate into the vagina.

These chemicals were believed to kill the fetus due to their extreme properties.


12. Drinking toxic Pennyroyal tea was an effective yet dangerous method.

This tea which was supposed to cause the death of the fetus could kill the woman too. 


13. Women induced hypothermia by lying down in the cold believing it would help.

Hypothermia can probably lead the body to go into shock and thus reject the fetus.


14. Pregnant women put leeches inside their vagina, hoping it will damage the fetus.

Just like infested tampons, leeches were thought to kill the fetus by drawing out blood or physically reaching and killing it. There are no confirmed sources to the reason.


15. Helpless women even resorted to means such as swallowing lye or gunpowder.

These deadly mixtures were consumed in the hopes that they could kill the fetus.


16. Failing to do anything else, women threw themselves down the stairs.

The injury to the abdominal area was believed to cause a miscarriage and thus help the woman abort the baby.


17. They went as far as hitting their stomach with a meat pulverizer or a brickbat.

They hit themselves with brutal force, hoping for a miscarriage!


18. They did not even hesitate in consuming a pulverized Spanish fly.

Spanish fly is considered poisonous and women didn’t mind poisoning themselves as long as they could abort the fetus.


19. They were made to consume opium, ergot or even tansy oil which rots internal organs.

Opium is a strong drug and thus was even effective, however it has devastating after effects on the body. Similarly, tansy oil not only killed the fetus but also hurt the woman.

Ergot, though effective, could cause gangrene, psychosis and death.


20. They resorted to strenuous activities or being vigorously shaken by strong men.

These activities like mountain-climbing, cliff-diving, horse-riding, weightlifting, performing back-breaking labour were believed to detach the fetus, causing a miscarriage. 

Women were vigorously shaken till the fetus popped out of the body.


21. Bleeding the women dry in hope of menstruation.

This was thought to lead to abortion by inducing menstruation! Sigh!


22. Woman had this trick up their sleeve to wear tight clothing to prevent conception.

Women would bind their waists tightly or wear extremely tight clothes to expel the fetus from the body. 


23. Some females also starved themselves until the fetus withered like a raisin.

Obviously, it cannot grow in a barren environment and thus women starved themselves till the fetus died.


All because some men had too big egos to allow abortion.

We have come a far way, still, there is a lot of stigma around abortion, which leads young women to resort to unhealthy practices even today.