On this week in history, on January 23, 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female medical doctor in U.S. history. Born in Bristol, England, Blackwell came to America in her youth and went on to graduate top of her class and be granted an M.D. at the medical school at Geneva College, which is now called Hobart College; after several years of practice, she and her sister founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children which also came to include the first women’s college for the training of female doctors and nurses in America. Also, 41 years ago on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its final decision to decriminalize abortion in the United States in the case of Roe v. Wade. A topic of concern and controversy, abortion first became a serious criminal offense in the mid to late 19th century; up until then, even in the 1700s, abortion was a relatively common but covert practice and did not become an area of moral outrage until doctors of the American Medical Association began condemning the practice in order to eliminate the unwanted competition brought on by abortion practitioners. When the Catholic Church followed suit in the condemnation of abortion, the practice began gaining more controversy in social, moral, and political debates and was even declared illegal in most states in the Union until the Supreme Court declared it to be a legal way of terminating an unwanted pregnancy on this week in 1973.
By: Logan Norris