By James C. Mohr
'The historical past of the way abortion got here to be banned and the way ladies lost--for the century among nearly 1870 and 1970--rights formerly regarded as normal and inherent over their very own our bodies is an engaging and infuriating one.
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Additional resources for Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy (Galaxy Books)
The law in question was known as Lord Ellenborough's Act, after the chief justice of England who had been influential in its passage in 1803. 6 But Ellenborough had also made attempted murder by poisoning a hanging offense and, as a sort of rider to that section, he made attempts to produce abortion by the use of poisons after quickening another new capital felony as well. 7 24 • Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America As a special committee later reported to the House of Commons, Ellenborough's abortion clauses were very badly drafted.
Second, the overall incidence of abortion, according to contemporary observers, began to rise sharply in the 1840s and remained at high levels through the 1870s; abortion was no longer a marginal practice whose incidence probably approximated that of illegitimacy, but rather a widespread social phenomenon during the period. Third, the types of women having recourse to abortion seemed to change; the dramatic surge of abortion in the United States after 1840 was attributed not to an increase in illegitimacy or a decline in marital fidelity, but rather to the increasing use of abortion by white, married, Protestant, native-born women of the middle and upper classes who either wished 46 The Great Upsurge of Abortion, 1840-1880 • 47 to delay their childbearing or already had all the children they wanted.
Consequently, they attacked the quickening doctrine on the logical grounds that quickening was a step neither more nor less crucial in the process of gestation than any other. John Beck, for example, in his long-standard 1823 discussion of abortion from the standpoint of medical jurisprudence, put forward two different theories to explain the physiology of quickening in an effort to lessen its importance, though he admitted that the continued viability of that doctrine had a "direct tendency...
Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy (Galaxy Books) by James C. Mohr