On April 29, 1970, Jane Hodgson, a respected St. Paul obstetrician, performed an abortion on a woman who had contracted rubella early in her pregnancy. Abortion was illegal in Minnesota at the time, and Hodgson knew she could face criminal charges. But that’s exactly what she wanted. She wanted to challenge the state’s anti-abortion law in court. That fall, she got her wish. A judge in St. Paul upheld the law’s constitutionality and found Hodgson guilty of violating it. That made her the first U.S. physician to be convicted of illegally performing an abortion. Her conviction was reversed three years later after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
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