GCC Hosts Dr. Alicia Gutierrez-Romine

Presentation comes in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s overturn by the Supreme Court. 

Glendale Community College hosted an event Sept. 29 titled “From Back Alley to the Border: Criminal Abortion in California, 1920-1969” by Dr. Alicia Gutierrez-Romine. The presentation comes in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s overturn by the Supreme Court.

Roughly 39 students, staff and faculty were in attendance for this virtual Humanities/Social Science Lecture Series event, which also received support from GCC’s Pulitzer Center Consortium. The presenter, Gutierrez-Romine, is an assistant professor of History at La Sierra University and author of her first book, “From Back Alley to the Border.” She is a U.S. historian who focuses on the history of medicine. Her first book is focused on abortion on the West Coast, specifically, at the border between the United States and Mexico. 

“One of the main hallmarks of my book that I wrote about is this organization called the Pacific Coast Abortion Ring and this was really what sealed the deal for me and [I] realized this was the topic that I was going to write about and I found it at the very end of my first day at the archives,” said Gutierrez-Romine at the beginning of the Zoom meeting. A type of L.A. story unfolded behind this topic, she said. There was a man who was the head of these clinics, and he has clinics all around the Pacific Coast, California, and many more places. The man that she talked about kidnapped secretaries of abortionists who didn’t want to join his clinic ring, and he bribed and blackmailed medical examiners. She thought this was an interesting topic because he was making the modern-day equivalent of millions of dollars per month just by providing illegal abortions during the Great Depression. 

With Roe v. Wade being overruled on June 24, women have less control over their bodies than they have had in decades. If women are going through health issues while pregnant, it puts their lives at risk due to the lack of access to an abortion or wait times in states where there are heavy restrictions on abortion, said the speaker. 

“We’ve seen this historically before; we’ve seen women cross national and state lines in order to access these procedures, so it’s interesting to see what we have failed to learn from history as well our willingness to repeat it again,” said Gutierrez-Romine. It comes to show that there was no learning from the past. History is repeating itself, and we are going backwards instead of moving forward. Women went to Mexico for their abortions and the judges in California couldn’t penalize them for violating a California law because the abortions happened in Mexico. Some states may be safe havens with explicit laws protecting abortion rights. 

Unlimited copies of Gutierrez-Romine’s book are available through the campus library.

Alexis Figueroa can be reached at [email protected].