Using death certificates, newspaper reports in Polish and English, birth records, and police reports, this study examines the historical experience of Polish immigrant and second-generation women as they faced the problem of unwanted pregnancies in the early to mid-twentieth century before Roe v. Wade. Focusing on the Polish communities of Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan, it attempts to create a fuller understanding of the women who sought abortions or resorted to neonaticide, the methods and resources they utilized, the attitudes of the community and church that formed a backdrop to their decisions, and the public consequences they faced. It also looks at local abortion providers: midwives, doctors, pharmacists, and neighbors, including those who were criminally prosecuted. Finally, the Polonian experience is placed within the context of existing historical research on contraception, illegal abortion, and infanticide, particularly as it impacted working-class and immigrant women.

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