Sherri Finkbine’s Abortion: Its Meaning 50 Years Later

The Finkbines traveling back to Phoenix, en route from London. Image: BBC

In the early 1960s, abortion was illegal in Arizona, as it was in every state after more than a century of anti-abortion legislation. Arizona, like some other states, provided exceptions in limited circumstances, but abortion was otherwise restricted throughout the United States. However, the 1960s also ushered in a change in the public perception of abortion, a change that was conducive to the Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton to overturn many state and federal restrictions on abortion.

Sherri Finkbine’s story reminds us of the devastating impact of abortion restrictions we have since overturned.

The women’s movement played a big part in that change, as well as a rubella epidemic that raised widespread concern about fetal deformities and strengthened support for therapeutic abortions. However, if there was one person whose story had the biggest impact, it was a Phoenix-area woman named Sherri Finkbine. An abortion she had 50 years ago Saturday reminds us of the importance of keeping abortion safe and legal.

Sherri Finkbine was known to thousands of children as Miss Sherri on the local edition of the nationally televised children’s show Romper Room. But Finkbine entered the spotlight for another reason in 1962, when she and her doctor decided she should have a therapeutic abortion. Continue reading