California governor pardons abortion activist from 1940s

Nov 4, 2022, 3:08 AM | Updated: 3:09 pm

FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom displays a bill he signed that shields abortion providers and v...

FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom displays a bill he signed that shields abortion providers and volunteers in California from civil judgements from out-of-state courts during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, June 24, 2022. Newsom on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 posthumously pardoned abortion rights activist Laura Minor, who was convicted in 1949 of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion. She was sentenced to four yours in prison on the twin felonies and died in 1976. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday posthumously pardoned an abortion activist from the 1930s and 1940s, acting days before Californians finish voting on whether to enshrine increased protections in the state Constitution in response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Laura Miner was convicted in 1949 of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion. She was sentenced to four years in prison on the twin felonies, and died in 1976.

“I can still hold my head up, and I respect myself because my conscience is clear,” she wrote while serving her prison sentence. “I have helped humanity — someday it will be legal for a doctor to help a woman who will then have a right to decide for herself how many children she shall have, and when.”

Her statement proved prescient, for a time. The U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision ruled in 1973 that protections under the U.S. Constitution included the right to have an abortion.

But a majority of the high court earlier this year said that is up to individual states. Increased protections also are before voters next week in Michigan and Vermont, and restrictions in Kentucky and Montana.

Newsom, a Democrat who is actively supporting the proposed constitutional change, in a statement called Miner “a powerful reminder of the generations of people who fought for reproductive freedom in this country, and the risks that so many Americans now face in a post-Roe world.”

The No on Prop 1 campaign did not directly comment on Newsom’s pardon, but said in a statement that the governor hopes the measure “will work for him politically, ” while expanding abortion rights would “ultimately be dangerous for California women.”

California’s original 1850 Constitution criminalized abortions, but Miner was among those who provided them at a time when abortion was still illegal in California except when necessary to protect a woman’s life. She did so in San Diego from 1934 to 1948, until she and her staff were arrested.

She was convicted in San Diego Superior Court in 1949 and starting at age 50 served 19 months in prison and 27 months on parole.

Miner provided health care to patients on a sliding fee scale, using payments from her wealthy and sometimes famous clients to cover the indigent. She was a licensed chiropractor, according to an online account by her granddaughter, who called her “eccentric, stubborn and always independent.”

The Journal of American History said she ran a nine-room abortion clinic and was part of the Pacific Coast Abortion Ring in 1935 and 1936.

Miner was arrested after an investigator for the district attorney’s office kept her clinic under surveillance for nearly three months, according to her unsuccessful appeal of her conviction. He even attempted an early wiretap, entering the clinic at night with the intent to install a dictaphone.

When she was young, she saw her mother nearly die from a botched illegal abortion. Her mother then died when she was 9, according to Newsom’s office, leaving behind Miner and seven siblings. She had four children herself, two of whom died of illness as infants.

“Ms. Miner gave women a safe alternative in a dark era for reproductive rights,” Alicia Gutierrez-Romine, a professor of history at La Sierra University in Riverside, California and a historian on the history of medicine, said in a statement.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Associated Press

Body of avalanche victim in Washington state recovered after being spotted by volunteer

Search crews have recovered the body of a climber who was one of three killed in an avalanche on Washington's Colchuck Peak in February.

14 hours ago

Eugene and Linda Lamie, of Homerville, Ga., sit by the grave of their son U.S. Army Sgt. Gene Lamie...

Associated Press

Biden on Memorial Day lauds generations of fallen US troops who ‘dared all and gave all’

President Joe Biden lauded the sacrifice of generations of U.S. troops who died fighting for their country as he marked Memorial Day with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

2 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI gestures while speaking at Un...

Associated Press

ChatGPT maker downplays fears they could leave Europe over AI rules

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Friday downplayed worries that the ChatGPT maker could exit the European Union

3 days ago

File - Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, left, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman arrive to the White House for a ...

Associated Press

Regulators take aim at AI to protect consumers and workers

As concerns grow over increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT, the nation’s financial watchdog says it’s working to ensure that companies follow the law when they’re using AI.

5 days ago

FILE - A security surveillance camera is seen near the Microsoft office building in Beijing, July 2...

Associated Press

Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers could be laying groundwork for disruption

State-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises, Microsoft said Wednesday.

6 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, May 17, 2023, in Washington....

Associated Press

White House unveils new efforts to guide federal research of AI

The White House on Tuesday announced new efforts to guide federally backed research on artificial intelligence

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

California governor pardons abortion activist from 1940s