The Criminal Use of Proprietary or Advertised Nostrums [a.k.a. Abortion]. Ely Van de Warker.

On the Effectiveness of Abortion Pills in the 19th Century

The Criminal Use of Proprietary or Advertised Nostrums [a.k.a. Abortion]

Notes: A fascinating paper on the effectiveness of drugstore preparations in inducing abortions, with reports on the (male) author's own experience taking the elixirs.

The author begins by protesting the wide availability and shameless advertising for these preparations. "Almost every woman believes in the power of the advertised pills or drops to accomplish the end for which they were recommended. These wares are unblushingly exposed for sale on the shelves of drug-stores, and are as boldly asked for."

Ely provides a number of anecdotal accounts of women using nostrums to successfully induce abortions, and he identifies the typical components of such preparations, including savin (an evergreen plant), tansy, rue, aloe, hellebore, ergot (a rye fungus), and iron. He then provides detailed reports on the physical effects he experienced after taking the recommended dose of eleven different commercially available pills and liquids. Obviously, they did not induce abortions but several had stong effects on his digestive system, which are recounted in some detail.

Van de Warker (1841–1910) was a gynecological surgeon and obstetrician who helped co-found the American Gynecological Society. He published many articles on abortion and was a prominent medical opponent of the practice. He published one full-length book, Woman’s Unfitness for Higher Co-Education, in 1903.

15 pages. Reprinted from the New York Medical Journal, January 1873.

Edition + Condition: Folded in half vertically, as if for insertion in a coat pocket, else a very good copy in printed wrappers. With "Compliments of E.V.D.W.", in the author's handwritten on the front cover.

Publication: New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873.

Item No: #360741


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