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CRIMINAL ABORTION-STEWART.

The only defect in the book is the absence of statistical data. This is however, no fault of the author; but results from the absolute impossibility of obtaining the necesssary facts in any district, however limited.

It is assumed by Dr. Storer, in the essay referred to, that criminal abortion is a growing evil, that within the last few years, the rate of increase is so large as to be really alarming, not only as an evidence of the moral degeneracy of the times, but because of its results in depopulating the nation.

For proof on this point, he refers to the statement recently made, that in the State of Massachusetts, the yearly increase by birth of the native population falls below the numerical death rate; so that, the commonwealth is dependent upon foreign emigration, not only for its increase, but even, to preserve it from depopulation. In evidence of the general increase of abortions throughout the conntry at large, Dr. Storer adduces the reported experience of leading medical men; and for further proof appeals to the observation of all physicians in practice.

Surely if this be so, (and from our constant experience, can any of us doubt it?) it is due from the medical profession as conservator of the public wcal, and in the interests of philanthropy and patriotism, to exert all its influence in exposing not only the wickedness of the act in itself, and the mischievous results to the individual; but also, the direful consequences to the body politic.

By medical men the word abortion is commonly understood to mean, the expulsion of the fætus and its appendages from the uterus, prior to the sixth month, while after that period, this result is spoken of as premature labor, or miscarriage. For the sake of convenience, ve shall use the word in its popular sense, as implying the extrusion of the fruits of impregnation at any stage of pregnancy. Criminal abortion is the premature expulsion of the factus from design, and without legitimate cause. It is accomplished by means both medicinal and mechanical. This has from time immemorial been regarded by the profession, as a crime; and for any of its members to be guilty of it, is derogatory to the whole body. The legitimate cause which furnishes the only exception, is and can only be, a necessity growing out of conditions, from which the life of the mother, or child, or both is in jeopardy; and even on this point—80 sensitive has the mind of the

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profession ever been upon the propriety of sacrificing the foetus in uterothat some of its members have always opposed it. “In 1852, there was a discussion in the French Academy of Medicine, of this question : "Is it ever justifiable to induce abortion, in cases of excessive vomiting." "The discussion grew out of a report, made to the Academy by Cazeaux, and there was much conflict of opinion on the subject, the ultimate decision being of a mixed character."

But we have chiefly to consider the moral aspects of this subject in its results upon the parties implicated. These results vary, according to the degree of enlightenment; many are ignorant, and look upon the act as excusable, if not justifiable. Others sufficiently instructed in its criminality, enter upon its execution with sore compunctions; but stifle them, under the plea of an urgent necessity. And there are some, alas ! too many—who laugh at scruples, and will have their object accomplished, alike indifferent to the reproaches of conscience, or the entreaties of friends.

But all, in one respect give evidence of some knowledge of evil involved in the act, in that, by common consent, it is a deed of darkness. The universal law, of the demoralizing effect of all wilful violations of the judgment of conscience, in depraving, and, by continued practice, besotting the moral sense, finds no exception here.

As to the physiological relations of abortion, we must consider first, the physiology of normal gestation, in order that we may be able to appreciate the usual and exceptional consequences of its interruption to the economy. In so doing, we do not propose entering upon a critical examination of the various theories of gestation, but simply to state briefly, some facts and deductions of science, bearing upon this subject. Following the act of insemination, whether coincident with, or how long subsequent, being a matter of dispute among physiologists, we express no opinion, an ovarian vessicle becomes excited, and tumid, and is thereupon grasped by the fimbriated extremity of a falopian tube, into and through which, the contained ovum, is discharged, and conveyed to the womb. Either while yet within the ovarium, or in the course of its transmission to, or after its reception by the uterus, it is brought in contact with the spermatic fluid, from which, conception results. As to how soon after intercourse fecundation is effected, or the the necessity of a peculiar erotic excitement for this purpose, much has been written and to but little profit. Experiments however, have

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demonstrated, “ that impregnation cannot result, unless the matured ovum meets the zoosperms, in a living condition," also, the investigations of Bischoff and Valentin, have shown, "that the zoosperms, may retain their movements, and probably their fecundating power, for a period of seven days, within the body of the female." Artificial impregnation has been produced in a bitch, by injecting sperm into the vagina, the resulting young having manifestly resembled the dog whence the sperm had been obtained.” And in the human species a

a similar result has been produced from a like experiment. John Hunter " recommended an individual affected with hypospadias to inject his sperm by means of a warm syringe. His wife afterwards became pregnant." Quite recently the same experiment has been tried, in repeated instances, with like results. Spallanzani “succeeded in producing fecundation in ova that had previously been separated from the ovarium.” These results, in connection with the well known fact of extra uterine pregnancy, indicate, 1st, that the point at which the ovum becomes impregnated may be at any place from its origin in the ovarium to its ultimate location within the uterus; 2d, that the time of impregnation may be, even days, subsequent to intercourse; 3d, that no peculiar excitement is essential to this result.

The first accomplished fact in normal gestation then, is an impregnated ovum.

This having descended into the uterus, attaches itself to some part of that organ, at a period of from five to eight days after insemination. Consequent upon this, the uterus becomes enlarged, by steady augmentation of its natural tissue, and the deposition of adipose substance throughout. This new condition requires changes in the internal economy of the female, suited to it, and which are of reg. ular and gradual growth. The womb is not only made to receive the new being, but it is thus fitted up, as it were, for its continued support and development throughout an exact period of time. Other organs, also, become involved in this newly undertaken, but important function of female life. The mamme especially undergo extraordinary changes. These transpire slowly, and in regular order, to the attainment of the same end, viz: nine full months of utero-gestation. Abortion breaks this harmonious chain, and that which was designed to develope new life, ends in an untimely death. But the destruction of the child is not the only result; for an interruption in this order of time is a shock to the entire economy of the female--not only the uterus

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and its appendages, but also the mammæ suffer, and with these, through the multifarious sympathies of organs, the only wonder is, that the experience of physicians does not universally indicate utter destruction of the physical and mental constitution of the patient. As it is, the summary of results, given by Dr. Storer, is sufficiently appalling, viz: 1st. “A larger proportion of women die during, or in consequence of, an abortion, than during, or in consequence of child-bed at the full term of pregnancy.” 2d. “A very much larger proportion become confirmed invalids, perhaps for life;" and, 3d. “The tendency to serious, and often fatal, organic disease, as cancer, is rendered so much greater at the so-called turn of life.” Among the diseases incident to abortion, we will mention some only of the more frequently observed, viz: congestions, ulcerations, flexions, versions and other displacements, with amenorrhæa, dismenorrhoa, menorrhagia and sterility. Not unfrequently it happens that this interruption of the regularity of those laws which govern gestation, renders it difficult and sometimes impossible, for the offender ever afterward, to attain to its full period. How does Nature thus avenge herself for the ruthless act, by relentlessly holding the guilty party to the penalty of her broken ordinance! To the practiced eye of the physician, the peculiar careworn expression, and broken down appearance of many, even a stranger faced female, tell unmistakably, of this breach of her law, the offence oiten aggravated by a sacrilegious invasion of her most secret and purest shrine.

Thus, as the result of this criminal act, she who previously rejoiced in the fullness of health, and in the perfection of every function of her body, must ever afterwards be a prey to disordered functions-one, in whom the pathological, has supplanted the beautiful and harmonious physiological acts of her former state.

An important question here arises. At what stage of gestation does the viability or life of the fætus date ?

While the ovum is yet contained within the ovarium, it is undoubtedly, as much a part of the woman, as any organ of her body; but when separated from it, as is known to occur under voluptuous excitement without intercourse, no one will consider it in any

other light than as cffete matter, or as the waste and broken down tissue which in any part of the system is thrown off, and carried out through the emunctories, and depurating vessels. When therefore it becomes impregnated, and is thrown off from the ovarium, is it not equally sep

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arate from the female; and although not capable of maintaining an independant life, but for this purpose, attaches itself to her at some other part, it certainly is a new existence; and she from whom it springs, has no more right to destroy and cast from her the minute organic living atom, than she has to turn from and leave to perish in its helplessness, the new-born babe, given to her at the fullness of mature gestation. This is now the conclusion of the medical world, whoever causes intentionally the destruction of the impregnated ovum is guilty of taking life, and that the life of a human being. This is nothing less than murder. But, says an objector, while it is granted that, in the early period of gestation, the impregnated ovum is so far under the guidance of organic life as to admit of growth, and development, it nevertheless does not follow that the living, sentient existence, the soul of man has a place within this minute and shapeless mass of gelatinous matter, without which, all that constitutes the man is wanting. To which, we reply: As you do not know that the soul takes up its residence in the newly impregnated ovum, can you tell at what stage of its growth this does occur ? And what are the signs, of its assumption of the earthly habiliments ? Is the absence of all such signs of intelligent being, proof? In what sphere of animal existence then, would you place the born imbecile, as soul-less ? Or, to make the case still stronger, what is the character of an acephalous monster ? Is it so entirely void of what you regard the essential part of man, that you would feel justified, by your own act, to rid the world of so unnatural, and disgusting a semblance of humanity ? Human law answers this question by pronouncing such an act murder, or at least manslaughter.

Sir Everard Home removed an embryo from the body of a female who died seven or eight days after intercourse. « This was submitted to the microscopic investigations of Mr. Bauer, who made various drawings of it, and detected two projecting points, which were considered to mark out even at this early period, and before the ovum was attached to the uterus, the seat of the brain and spinal marrow.” From such a fact as this, viz.: that among the first results of conception, is the appearance in tangible form, of the great nervous centres, which, by common consent, if not the seat, are at least the organs of the soul's manifestations we claim, as a natural and legitimate inference, tho

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