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

By James C. Mohr

'The historical past of ways abortion got here to be banned and the way girls lost--for the century among nearly 1870 and 1970--rights formerly considered average 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)

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And once they had decided that human life was present to some extent in a newly fertilized ovum, however limited that extent might be, they became the fierce opponents of any attack upon it. The First Wave of Abortion Legislation, 1821-1841 • 37 Practically, the regular physicians saw in abortion a medical procedure that not only gave the competition an edge but also undermined the solidarity of their own regular ranks. If a regular doctor refused to perform an abortion, he knew the woman could go to one of several types of irregulars and probably receive one.

The regular physicians there, by controlling through the speaker of the assembly all appointments to the standing committee on medical practice, had pushed 38 • Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America through the legislature in 1827 the toughest medical regulation law the state had ever had, tougher than the so-called Anti-Quack Act of 1819. 35 There is every reason to believe that these regulars, who were still influential in Albany the following year, were the "old and experienced surgeons" to whom the revisers of 1828 said they listened when they drew up the medically related sections of the state code, including the specially set aside section proscribing abortion for the first time in the United States in terms approaching Ellenborough's.

The United States remained in 1841, notwithstanding an initial wave of abortion legislation, a nation still committed to the basic tenets of the common law tradition. effect in those states. Of the ten states that had decided to address abortion in statute form, five were explicit in making it a crime only after quickening. The remaining five, however, the only ones that might be said to have moved to a more anti-abortion position than the nation opened the nineteenth century with, had passed statutes that were essentially unenforced and unenforceable insofar as they addressed abortion prior to quickening.

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