curated project commemorating the 50th anniversary of 1968 in dc

dedicated to bobby r. hale
2 may 1968 & physician arrested after performing abortion

2 may 1968 & physician arrested after performing abortion

#OTD 2 May 1968 After performing an abortion on a patient, Dr. Milan Vuitch, white, was arrested. The patient may have had the abortion at the private Doctors Hospital, (1816 I St NW) where Dr. Vuitch worked. 

Dr. Vuitch was arrested despite the fact that "therapeutic abortions" had been legal in DC since 1953. "Therapeutic abortions" were abortions that were necessary "for the preservation of the mother's life or health and under the direction of a competent licensed medical practitioner." However, there was considerable disagreement in the city about what constituted "life and health." It was the vagueness of the law, as well as anti-abortion forces, that led to Dr. Vuitch's arrest. (It would be one of many arrests that would eventually lead to a successful court case that widened abortion rights and access in 1971.)

William Blum, white, one of the Washington Free Press editors, shares this about abortions c1968 and Dr. Vuitch:

"In September 1967, Patricia McGinnis, head of the California-based Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws, delivered a talk in the Free Press house's living room, when she was unable to find any other venue in Washington willing to accept her. We ran a story about it in the paper. Even before the story appeared, people began calling the newspaper to find out where they might find a doctor willing to perform an abortion....For some reason, the first call or two to the paper were referred to me at my apartment. I had begun asking around...for a lead to an abortion doctor. I quickly hit paydirt--Dr. Milan M. Vuitch. I went to see him...and he gave me permission to refer patients to him. The arrangement was that a woman would call him and, after mentioning my name, was to complain of any female-type ailment. That, a sanitary napkin, and $300 was all that she needed."

Please comment below. Did you, a family member or a neighbor have an abortion c1968? Did you know Dr. Vuitch? Did you hear McGinnis' talk about abortions in 1967? Were you an abortion/reproductive rights activist before passage of Roe v WadeYou may comment privately here.

Photo source: Courtesy of Historical Society of Washington, DC. Doctors Hospital Publicity Records, MS0792. Photographer unknown.
William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir 2002. 
Sheridan Fahnestock, "Legal Abortions Here Rise in Last Five Years: Law Aids Well-To-Do," Evening Star 15 July 1968.
Anne M. Valk, Radical Sisters: Second-Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington, DC 2008.
Read this individual's story about obtaining an abortion c1971. It is from Washington Area Spark.
For more stories about the Washington Free Press newspaper, click here. To view digital copies, visit DCPL's DIG DC.

3 may 1968 & bobby hale photographs 900 h st ne

3 may 1968 & bobby hale photographs 900 h st ne

1 may 1968 & black dollar magazine debuts

1 may 1968 & black dollar magazine debuts