Finally, after hunting through the city, this couple had successfully located a physician, a nurse, and a room in which the young unmarried woman could safely and secretly have an abortion—her reputation preserved. They were pleased. Both were reporters for the Chicago Times . She was not the desperate unmarried woman she seemed, and he was neither her brother nor lover. Rather, the pair played these roles as part of their investigation of the abortion business in Chicago. They reported their discoveries in a month-long series of "revelations." The story began on December 12, 1888, and stayed on the front page every day through Christmas. In the method of the New Journalism forged in the 1880s, these investigative journalists had gone undercover and underground, into the "social cesspool," to expose the underworld and elite hypocrisy and, thus, inspire social reform.
The 1888 Times exposé is the earliest known in-depth study of illegal abortion. The investigation showed abortion to be commercially available in the nation's second largest city despite the criminal abortion law. The reporters retold their conversations with the hundreds of practitioners whom they had approached. They made the private practice of abortion public.
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