Some of us old enough to remember the pre-Roe v. Wade days when abortion was illegal shudder at the recollections. Abortions were an ugly fact of life. Before Roe became law in 1973, abortions commonly were performed by people outside the licensed practice of medicine — sometimes by family members or neighborhood midwives; other times by “back alley” practitioners.

Occasionally a woman in need could find a kindly doctor with the skill, medicines and sanitary conditions that would not risk her life. Those abortions could cost as much as $500 ($4,563.56 in today’s dollars) — prohibitively expensive for most women, especially those living below the poverty level, as well as those just out of high school or college with few financial resources.

Those who could not find or afford a doctor or midwife resorted to anyone available. A common method then was for an abortionist to insert a catheter tube — a practice that often led to a slab in the morgue, death from septicemia (blood poisoning).

Newspapers on May 4 received an emailed statement from United Women in Faith, a national organization, voicing alarm about the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade. Here is what the organization’s General Secretary and CEO Harriett Jane Olson had to say:

“As a leading Christian women’s organization committed to the needs of women, children and youth, United Women in Faith must voice alarm at the possibility of women losing the constitutional right to legal abortion guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s precedent-setting Roe v. Wade decision. Overturning Roe could also endanger the right to privacy that should also protect women from being prosecuted for a miscarriage and affords women access to widely used, safe, and legal contraceptives.

“Over the years, The United Methodist Church has crafted a carefully nuanced position on abortion that calls us to respect both the sanctity of unborn human life and the well-being of the mother, while supporting the legal option of abortion by certified medical providers in cases of ‘tragic conflicts of life with life.'”

[The United Methodist Church’s position: “Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases, we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers. …

“The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.”]

United Women in Faith’s Olson continues: “It is for this reason that, as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue, we express our concern for the lives of women and girls as more than 20 states are poised to effectively outlaw abortions in the event that Roe is overturned.

“We know from women’s experiences in the United States that the banning of abortions will not end abortions. While women of financial means will travel to areas where abortion remains safe and legal, many poor and working-class women and girls will resort to unsafe procedures that could cost them their lives, which happened too often prior to the Roe decision.

“We call on federal and state legislators to act to protect the lives of women and girls by codifying their right to privacy, to legal and safe contraceptives, and, in tragic conflicts of life with life, abortions. State-coerced motherhood — like state-coerced sterilization — undermines women’s ability to carefully discern and follow God’s calling in their lives.

“Women are entitled to seek guidance in the privacy of their families and faith traditions or ethical mores in these moments. The United Methodist Church has provided such guidance for members (The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline 2016, ¶161 K). Of course, other faith communities provide guidance as well, as is right and proper. What the court must do is guard this fundamental right of women.”

We are concerned as well and echo their call. Abortion never goes away; if outlawed, it just goes underground — and women die.