Voices Of Choice

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2013, we made our documentary Voices of Choice: Physicians Who Provided Abortions Before Roe v. Wade, available online, in full, for the first time.

A 25-minute film created by Physicians for Reproductive Health in 2003, Voices of Choice documents the experiences of physicians involved in abortion care and reform prior to the landmark Supreme Court Roe decision in 1973. Their stories remain fascinating, moving, and profound—a record of the horror of illegal abortion and the social and historical ramifications of a time when health care providers worked to save the lives of women who suffered needlessly.

Voices of Choice preserves the legacy of older physicians and figures in the reproductive rights movement who witnessed the effects of illegal abortion, including:

  • Curtis Boyd, MD, who has provided abortions since 1965
  • Bylle Avery, founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project, who prior to Roe was a leader in the underground abortion referral network
  • Mildred Hanson, MD, who saw the tragic results of illegal abortion as a young gynecologist in the years before Roe
  • The late Reverend Howard Moody, who helped found the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion in 1967, an extensive network of clergy members and abortion providers
  • The late George Tiller, MD, who was murdered in 2009 for providing abortions

Watch the full video, and follow the links below to read transcripts from individual interviews. To request an interview with one of the physicians featured in the Voices of Choice video, please call 646-649-9935 or email dana@prh.org.


Before Roe v. Wade

Forty years ago, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. Some of our physicians witnessed firsthand the horror and tragic consequences of illegal abortion, and the suffering they saw moved these men and women to push for safe, legal abortion for anyone who needs that care. Their experiences inspire us to keep going until abortion is truly accessible throughout the nation, without restrictions that hurt women and their families. We honor their stories by sharing them here: with Voices of Choice, a 24-minute documentary created in 2003, and with profiles of doctors who were involved in abortion care and reform prior to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. 

William K. Rashbaum, MD

Wendy Chavkin, MD, MPH

Tom Allen, MD

Tom Allen, MD, was a staff member of Magee Women's Hospital and a consulting staff member of University Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Allen performed abortions within the hospital system before abortion was legalized. He passed away on January 26, 2013.

I was on gynecology service for my first part of residency, and at that time the ward was pretty packed. A lot of women died because of infection and blood loss. Some of those people were there for weeks being treated. If they didn't die from gas gangrene or something else, they ended up as gynecological cripples.