If you thought the American Health Care Act marked the first time abortion came under fire from the state, you'd be incredibly wrong. Throughout history, women's right to choose has frequently been unsafe, often secretive, and punished violently if discovered — and even a brief examination of how abortion was criminalized in the past reveals that people who opposed abortions didn't just restrict themselves to attacking the people who provided them. The women themselves were often subject to intense, even deadly punishments, if they managed to survive the process itself (I've written about abortion methods in history before, but suffice to say you'd generally be lucky to get out alive) — so Donald Trump's 2016 comment that women who sought out abortions should be subject to "some form of punishment" wasn't as far out of left field as many thought. People have always had problems with women controlling their own bodies — and sometimes, they've even used state-sanctioned execution to make their point.
Today's world is, of course, hardly easy for abortion providers. Shootings and other violent attacks at abortion clinics remain a problem in America — and even without the threat of violence, gradual defunding, local regulations that all but ban the procedure, and threats of lost support through the global gag rule (which bans overseas organizations helped by US foreign aid from even talking about abortion) have made being an abortion provider immensely difficult in the US or abroad. It's always been tough to help women in their hour of need — and historically, many abortion providers were repaid for their help with violence and death. So, as we go through yet another period of national unrest around the issue of choice, consider thanking your local abortion provider. Their job has, throughout history, been one of the most thankless ones out there.
Warning: this post contains some graphic descriptions of historical torture.