The Detection of Criminal Abortion. Ely Van de Warker.

The Detection of Criminal Abortion

Notes: One of the leading 19th century opponents of abortion offers advice to doctors to differentiate between a natural miscarriage and an induced abortion. His stated motivation for this paper is that abortion is too easily available, writing, "The luxury of abortion is now within the reach of the serving-girl. An old man in this city performs the service for ten dollars and takes his pay in installments."

He offers other physicians advice on identifying three types of abortions: those caused by women who "probe themselves at the expiration of the first month"; those induced by blows to the abdomen; and those "instrumental" abortions performed by practitioners after the third month.

Van de Warker combines detailed descriptions of medical examination procedures with a steady stream of misogeny about the woman who "by the outlay of a few dollars shirks the high destiny of a mother" while protesting the "sacrilege" of abortion being "perpetrated in the holiest of a woman's nature." He nowhere acknowledges the acts or responsibilities of men who participated in the pregnancy, except to criticize those who are gullible enough to believe the stories their wives tell to keep abortions secret. What Van de Warker believes should happen to women who have abortions or whether doctors should inform on their patients is not mentioned.

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.

16 pages. Reprinted from the Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston. Garrison-Morton 13171, for an expanded edition published in the following year.

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 the author", in the author's handwritten on the front cover.

Publication: Boston: James Campbell, 1871.

Item No: #360754


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