Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National by James C. Mohr

By James C. Mohr

'The historical past of the way abortion got here to be banned and the way girls lost--for the century among nearly 1870 and 1970--rights formerly regarded as ordinary and inherent over their very own our bodies is an engaging and infuriating one.

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Extra info for Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy (Galaxy Books)

Sample text

Regulars believed it immoral, in other words, to make a life or death decision on the basis of a distinction that they could demonstrate to have very little relation to life or death. There was more to the physicians' moral opposition to abortion than scientific logic, however, for another dimension also emerged forcefully from their writings throughout the nineteenth century. The nation's regular doctors, probably more than any other identifiable group in American society during the nineteenth century, including the clergy, defended the value of human life per se as an absolute.

41 That statute not only revealed the general attitude of legislators toward physicians during the 1830s, but also demonstrated once again that the nation's early abortion laws were enacted by policymakers trying to control medical practices in the name of public safety. Indiana added an anti-abortion statute to its state code in 1835, and Missouri overhauled its 1825 anti-poisoning law the same year. 48 The last law enacted in the nation's first wave of abortion legislation was also the strongest, partly because American perceptions of abortion were beginning to change in ways that will be discussed in the next chapter.

B. 8 In its first major statement on abortion in the United States, the prestigious Boston Medical and Surgical Journal noted with alarm in 1844 that abortionists had come out into the open and were thriving. e. "9 The popular press began to make abortion more visible to the American people during the 1840s not only in its advertisements but also in its coverage of a number of sensational trials alleged to involve botched abortions and professional abortionists. In Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Iowa such cases evoked direct legislative responses, which will be examined in a subsequent chapter, but in the present context the very fact of public coverage indicated an increased awareness of abortion in the United States.

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