By James C. Mohr
'The background of ways abortion got here to be banned and the way ladies lost--for the century among nearly 1870 and 1970--rights formerly regarded as common 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)
In 1853 that law came before the Maine Supreme Court in what appeared to be a cut-and-dried case. But Justice John S. Tenney, even though he recognized that Eastman and Everett had "essentially changed the common law" by trying to eliminate the quickening doctrine, freed an abortionist, who gave his name as Smith, on the grounds that the state prosecutors could not prove that Smith intended that the operation he performed would produce abortion, as distinguished from some other intent. 51 In further assessing this first wave of abortion legislation in the United States, it is worth noting that not a single one of these early abortion provisions was passed by itself.
The best way out of these dilemmas was to persuade state legislators to make abortion a criminal offense. Anti-abortion laws would weaken the appeal of the competition and take the pressure off the more marginal members of the regulars' own sect. For all of these reasons, regular physicians became interested in abortion policy from an early date and repeatedly dragged it into their prolonged struggle to control the practice of medicine in the United States. At times abortion policy became a focal point in that struggle, at times an incidentally affected byproduct, but the struggle itself was always there in the background.
In the interval between Connecticut's first two abortion laws three other states—Missouri in 1825, Illinois in 1827, and New York in 1828—also passed laws that dealt specifi- 26 • Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America cally with abortion. Both the Missouri law and the Illinois law followed Connecticut's 1821 statute closely and, like that Connecticut law, they were as much poison control measures as anti-abortion measures. 12 Yet in practice, indictments could not be brought under these laws before quickening because intent had to be proved and the only way that intent could be proved was to demonstrate that the person who administered the poison could have known beyond any doubt that the woman was pregnant.