Society for Humane Abortion. Records, 1962-1979 (inclusive), 1963-1975 (bulk): A Finding
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
The papers were processed under grant number 79-4 from the National Historical Publications
and Records Commission.
© 1979 Radcliffe College
Call No.: MC 289
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: The Society for Humane Abortion, 1965-1975. The Association to Repeal Abortion Laws, 1966-1973
Title: Records, 1962 (1963-1975) 1979
Quantity: 8 1/2 file boxes, 6 audiotapes, part of reel of microfilm (M-100) 1 oversize folder
Abstract: Correspondence, articles of incorporation, bylaws, publications, etc., of Society
for Humane Abortion, which supported the repeal of all abortion laws.
Processed: August 1979
By: Zephorene L. Stickney
Accession numbers: 76-98, 76-124, 76-184 76-248, 76-260, 76-314, 76-360, 76-362, 76-380, 76-416, 77-M206,
The records of the Society for Humane Abortion/Association to Repeal Abortion Laws
were given to the Schlesinger Library in 1976, December 1977, and February 1978 by
Patricia Maginnis and Lana Phelan.
Society for Humane Abortion Records, 1962-1979 (inclusive), 1963-1975 (bulk); item
description, dates. MC 289, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard
University, Cambridge, Mass.
Patricia Theresa Maginnis, the founder and president of the Society for Humane Abortion,
began her "elective abortion" activities in 1961 while attending San Jose State College.
In 1962 she founded the Citizens Committee for Humane Abortion Laws (CCHAL) and spoke
in panel discussions and committee hearings. In 1963, CCHAL conducted the first of
a series of public opinion polls. That same year PM moved to San Francisco, taking
her organization with her. Once established there, CCHAL actively opposed the Bielenson
Bill, or "Humane Abortion Act," which became California law in 1963. After meeting
PM in 1963, Rowena Gurner helped organize her efforts; in 1964 they changed CCHAL's
name to the Society for Humane Abortion (SHA).
SHA was incorporated in California as a non-profit educational organization in 1965.
Its members endorsed "elective abortion," believing that every woman seeking an abortion
is entitled to proper medical care without harassment; SHA supported the repeal, rather
than the reform, of all abortion laws. The Society sought to educate the public by
sponsoring symposia on abortion procedures for physicians; providing speakers and
literature to libraries, medical schools, physicians, family planning agencies, and
individuals; and publishing a quarterly newsletter. In 1968 and 1968, SHA maintained
a free Post-Abortion Care Center (PACC), which was sponsored by the American Humanist
Association. SHA disbanded in 1975, two years after the Supreme Court voided California'a
1963 "Humane Abortion Act."
In order to safeguard SHA's tax-free educational status, PM set up a parallel organization,
the Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (ARAL), in 1966 to carry on underground activities:
making referrals to abortion specialists; preparing and disseminating printed material
about specialists and about self-induced abortion; and holding classes on abortion-related
laws, Mexican abortion specialists, and self-induced abortion techniques. For a small
donation, pregnant women received a kit prepared by ARAL containing annotated lists
of abortion specialists in Mexico, Japan, Puerto Rico, and other countries, instructions
for going through customs, an evaluation form to be returned to ARAL after completion
of the abortion, summaries of laws, and directions for self-induced abortion. The
evaluations were used to update the list, and many specialists were visited by a member
of ARAL before they were listed.
- I. SOCIETY FOR HUMANE ABORTION. 1-61.
- A. Organizational Records. 1-7.
- B. Office Files. 8-61.
- II. ASSOCIATION TO REPEAL ABORTION LAWS. 62-181.
- A. Office Files. 62-64.
- B. Classes. 65-67.
- C. Abortion Specialists. 68-181.
The present collection is all the record that remains of some thirteen years of work
by PM and SHA/ARAL. Since the organization always remained small and highly centralized,
and since it operated from PM's house, few office files survive. As far as possible,
ARAL material has been separated from SHA records. The collection begins with SHA's
organizational papers: articles of incorporation, by-laws, publications, and the
like. SHA's extant office files have been arranged in alphabetical order. Almost
no financial material survives. Clippings about PM, SHA, and ARAL are at the end
of the collection; unrelated clippings and pamphlets were removed from the collection
and filed in the Schlesinger Library's subject files.
The bulk of the collection was generated by PM's ARAL activities. There is some material
from her abortion classes, but most of the papers concern abortion specialists; these
papers include several versions of the specialist kit and correspondence between ARAL
and either other referral agencies or individual specialists.
One half of the entire SHA/ARAL collection consists of requests for information about
abortion specialists from or on behalf of pregnant women and evaluations of the abortion
experience, which are useful for their candid and personal views on the subject of
abortion. Because of the sensitive nature of these papers, names, street addresses
and telephone numbers have been removed. The specialists and their assistants have
each been given a number; the same number is used wherever a name appears: on kits,
lists, correspondence, and evaluations. All requests and evaluations have been filed
separately in chronological order to give a clearer indication of the number of people
who contacted ARAL in a given period. In a visit to the Schlesinger Library in April
of 1979, PM said that space limitations had forced her to discard even more requests
and evaluations than she was able to keep. This collection should therefore be considered
a sample of the material generated by SHA/ARAL from 1965 to 1975.
Audiotapes of a 1964 panel discussion on abortion, a speech given by PM in 1965, and
the 1966 Conference on Abortion and Human Rights are shelved as T-37.
For further information about PM and SHA/ARAL, see the oral interview with PM conducted
by Dr. Jeannette Cheek for the Schlesinger-Rockefeller Oral History Project in November
- Box 1: 1-21
- Box 2: 22-23, 25-38
- Box 3: 39-61
- Box 4: 62-63, 65-66, 68-82
- Box 5: 83-91, 93-106
- Box 6: 107-129
- Box 7: 130-147
- Box 8: 148-169
- Box 9: 170-181
- SERIES I. SOCIETY FOR HUMANE ABORTION (SHA). 1-61.
- A. Organizational Records. 1-7.
- 1. Citizens Committee for Humane Abortion Laws, 1961-1964, n.d. Newsletters (1963, 1964),
- 2. Articles of Incorporation, 1965; By-Laws, ca. 1966; Tax-Exempt Status, 1967.
- 4. SHA Newsletters, 1965-1973 (scattered).
- 5. SHA Newsletters. Indexes and articles, ts., 1963-1965.
- 6. SHA Publications, ca. 1964-1973, n.d. Includes mailings and press releases; pamphlets:
"Facts About Abortion Women Have a Right to Know" (ca. 1965); "The Abortees' Songbook"
by PM (1969); "The Proceedings of the [First American] Symposium on Office Abortion
Procedures," San Francisco, May 1970, ed. by Thomas M. Hart, M.D. (July 1970).
- 7. Patricia Maginnis. Publications, 1969-1971, 1974, n.d. Cartoons, writing paper,
- B. Office Files. 8-61.
- 8. "Abortion Counseling Service (Defunct)." Correspondence, 1968-1970.
See also 82.
- 9. "Abortion Counseling Service (Defunct)." Newsletters, 1964-1970, scattered.
- 10. Baird, Bill, 1970. Printed material.
- 11. "Bielenson Bill [Calif. SB] 544," 1966, 1967, March-June 1970, n.d. Printed bill,
copies of correspondence, ARAL's plan for aiding passage, etc.
- 12. Binder, Lilyan L.: "Abortion as a Crisis: A Study of Women Applying for Abortion
at S[an] F[rancisco] G[eneral] H[ospital], January and February, 1969."
- 13. "Bowers, Richard," 1967-1972, n.d. Correspondence, memos, printed materials.
- 14. Butler, Louise: "The Society for Humane Abortion," May 21, 1965. Speech or report
based on April 1965 study of SHA.
- 15. "Clergy Consultation (including Elizabeth Canfield)," 1968-1970, n.d. Newsletters,
pamphlets, mailings, especially from Elizabeth Canfield of Clergy Counseling Service
for Problem Pregnancies and California Committee on Therapeutic Abortion.
See also 83.
- 16-22: Conferences (arranged alphabetically by PM).
- 16. Clinic and Office Abortion Procedures Symposium: Seattle, Washington, March 1971.
- 17-20: Clinic and Office Abortion Procedures Symposium: Wisconsin, 1971.
- 17. "Brochure." Drafts of brochure and cover letter.
- 18. "Registration." Lists of participants, registration forms, etc.
- 19. "Nathanson." Correspondence, papers read by Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D. Includes
papers by S.B. Conger, M.D., and Thomas M. Hart, M.D.
- 23. Correspondence, General, 1965-1972, n.d.
- 25. Financial: "Invoices - Unpaid," 1970-1972.
- 26. Financial: "SHA Invoice." Blank forms.
- 27. Financial: SHA Savings Account, Bank of Tokyo, 1965-1970, 1972.
- 28. Gurner, Rowena: "The Physician's Role with Respect to Abortion," ca. 1966. Paper
written for sociology course.
- 29. Hardin, Garrett, 1967, 1970, 1972.
- 30-36. Henrie, William Jennings Bryan, D.O. Correspondence and enclosed clippings, papers,
printed material, legal documents.
- 37. Henrie, William Jennings Bryan, D.O. Clippings, 1966, 1970-1971, 1973.
See also 30-36.
- 38. Henrie, William Jennings Bryan, D.O. Publications and Papers, 1965-1968, n.d.
See also 30-36.
- 39. "Hospital Forms," 1966-1968. Blank forms re: therapeutic abortion in California.
- 40. Howe, Larry W.: "Abortion and the Law: California Report," December 1966. Proposed
- 41. The Lalor Foundation, 1970-1971.
- 42. Lewis, Louise: "Legal Abortion in Sweden, the Soviet Union, the East European Countries,
and Japan," Fall 1965.
- 43. Maginnis, Patricia. Personal, 1967, n.d.
- 44. Munson, H. Benjamin, M.D., 1970-1972. Clippings and PM cartoon re: Dr. Munson's
- 45. "Neg[ative Letters]," n.d.
- 46. "New York Abortion Information," 1970, n.d.
- 47. Notes, n.d. PM's notes re: situation in other states, judicial decisions, etc.
- 48. Office supplies, 1967.
- 49. "People to Notify," 1971. Lists, returned envelopes.
- 50. "Phone Company Interchanges," 1972. Correspondence.
- 51. "Plaintiffs," 1971. Re: proposed class-action abortion suit.
- 53. "Proposed Abortion Laws," 1969, 1970. Printed California and Federal laws, etc.
- 54. Publications. Correspondence, 1969-1970, with Contact Books re: "Handbook for Responsible
Women" and "Abortees' Songbook."
- 55. "References," 1966, 1969-1971, n.d. Legal research, printed papers and pamphlets
about abortion, and notes on same; list of pamphlets in SHA's lending library.
- 56. Reprints, 1963-1970. Material reprinted by SHA.
- 57. Reprints. Correspondence, 1966, 1970, 1971.
- 58. "Wisconsin," 1971-1972. Correspondence re: Wisconsin abortion statute, and with
J. Carol Taylor of Women In Struggle; includes some Women In Struggle newsletters.
- T-37 : 6 reels audiotapes:
- Reel 5. "Discussion Panel re: Abortion," November 24, 1964. Brief addresses followed by
comments and questions. Participants include: Patrick Hallinan (attorney); Evelyn
Ballard, M.D.; Hubert Naboisek, Ph.D. (psychologist); Rev. Lester Kinsolving (Episcopalian);
Lawrence Seward, Ph.D. (biologist). Both sides recorded; no transcript in this collection.
- Reel 6. "Speech given at Cameron House Young Adults Presbyterian Group," August 8, 1965.
PM speech re: abortion laws, police actions, public opinion, and SHA's position.
Reel partially recorded; no transcript in this collection. Listen to audio file.
- SERIES II. ASSOCIATION TO REPEAL ABORTION LAWS. 62-181.
- A. Office Files. 62-64.
- 62. Publications, ca. 1966-1971, 1973, n.d.
- 63. "Volunteer Possibilities and Work They Might Do," 1968-1970, n.d.
- B. Classes. 65-67.
- 65. "Self-Induced Techniques," 1967, 1968, n.d. Includes class outline and handouts; letters,
printed material, etc.
- 66. Notes, statistics, 1966, 1967, n.d. Notes on questions for evaluation of specialists;
fliers; statistics on attendance compiled by Schlesinger Library archivist.
Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (ARAL), 1966-1973
Bielenson, Anthony C.
Citizens Committee for Humane Abortion Laws (CCHAL), 1961-1964
Henrie, William Jennings Bryan
Maginnis, Patricia Theresa
Abortion--Religious aspects Cartoons