In From Back Alley to the Border
, Alicia Gutierrez-Romine examines the history of criminal abortion in California and the role abortion providers played in exposing and exploiting the faults in California's anti-abortion statute throughout the twentieth century. Focused on the women who used this underground network and the physicians who facilitated it, Gutierrez-Romine describes the operation of abortion providers from the 1920s through the 1960s, including regular physicians as well as women and African American abortionists, and the investigations and trials that surrounded them.
During the 1930s the Pacific Coast Abortion Ring, a large, coast-wide, and comparatively safe organized abortion syndicate, became the target of law enforcement agencies, forcing abortions across the border into Mexico and ushering in an era of Tijuana "abortion tourism" in the early 1950s. The movement south of the border ultimately compelled the California Supreme Court to rule its abortion statute "void for vagueness" in People v. Belous
in 1969--four years before Roe v. Wade
Gutierrez-Romine presents the first book focused on abortion on the West Coast and the border between the United States and Mexico and provides a new approach to studying how providers of illegal abortions and their female clients navigated this underground network.