Skip to comments.New York Times writer gets history wrong, claims abortion was always widely accepted
Posted on 12/28/2019 9:35:36 AM PST by Morgana
The New York Times has published an interactive history of abortion in America seeking to inform the reader that legalized abortion is no big deal because, in essence, its always been socially acceptable. However, as one might expect, there are a number of false claims in the article.
According to author Lauren MacIvor Thompson, a historian at Georgia State University and the author of a forthcoming history of Margaret Sanger and Mary Dennett, pro-lifers are ignorant of American history: They wrongly argue that we have long thought about fetuses as people with rights. And they improperly frame Roe v. Wade as an anomaly, saying it liberalized a practice that Americans had always opposed. Lets examine the authors claims.
False Claim #1: Abortion was widely accepted in the first decades of U.S. history.
Thompson says abortion was widely accepted in the early 1800s: Abortion in the early stages of a pregnancy was common and generally not considered immoral or murderous. She adds that Americans considered abortion just another method of birth control like breastfeeding, abstinence, the use of the rhythm method, vaginal douching and the use of herbs like pennyroyal or savin. Yet the portrait Thompson paints is seriously distorted.
As Marvin Olaskys Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America portrays, and is summarized by Abort73.com, the opposite was true. Although abortion was practiced on the fringes of society, mainstream opinion condemned it. As early as 1652, a Maryland man was convicted for intending to commit an abortion. A Virginia law passed in 1710, along with a Delaware law passed in 1719, both sought to protect the rights of the preborn by making abortion a crime. The Presbyterian church officially declared abortion a crime against God and against nature, and the American Medical Association campaigned for stricter pro-life laws and greater enforcement of existing laws. Mainstream media outlets also spoke out against abortion, with even The New York Times calling abortionists disgusting practitioners who continue to escape prosecution. By the 1870s, almost every state had criminalized abortion.
In short, although some women procured abortions Americas early years, the historical evidence does not support the claim that abortion was generally not considered immoral and murderous.
False Claim #2: Early feminists were actually closet pro-abortion activists.
In Thompsons telling, early feminists were cryptically pro-abortion: Most womens rights activists in the 1800s did not openly embrace contraceptives or abortion as part of their national platform. They knew that doing so would have increased mens sexual access to women, while allowing them to escape responsibility for any consequences. She even goes on to imply, again without any evidence, that the contemporary pro-abortion notion of bodily autonomy was somehow at the forefront of early feminists minds: Reformers knew that womens right to bodily integrity, above even the right to vote, was the key to truly becoming full citizens.
Yet as Live Action News has thoroughly documented, early feminists were explicitly opposed to abortion. Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, When we consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit. She deplored the murder of children, either before or after birth as an evil that had become frightfully prevalent.
Elizabeth Blackwell, Americas first female doctor, spoke out against a female physician that committed abortions: The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism.
Susan B. Anthonys newspaper, The Revolution, refused to publish ads for abortifacients and often published editorials against abortion. When approached by a couple seeking an illegal abortion, Dr. Charlotte Lozier refused to commit the shameful, revolting, unnatural and unlawful act.
False Claim #3: Pro-life physicians in the 1800s were motivated by racism and selfishness.
According to Thompson, mid-19th century pro-life physicians were animated by racism: American physicians drew on nativist and anti-immigrant fears to argue that the ignorant, the low-lived and the alien would outbreed good, Protestant Americans and destroy the nation. She also argues that physicians were motivated by self-interest: [M]any viewed anti-abortion reform as the key to improving the publics perceptions of physicians and establishing their place as respected members of society.
Thompsons version of history here is not only wrong, its completely backwards. The real racism came in the form of those like Margaret Sanger who advocated eugenics and paved the way for abortion on demand targeting minority communities. As Sanger, who notoriously addressed the Ku Klux Klan in 1926, infamously wrote in a 1939 letter, We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.
In reality, respected, mainstream physicians groups like the American Medical Association were unabashedly pro-life based on objective medical science that the preborn baby was a distinct person. Respected physicians sought to protect human life, like Dr. Stephen Tracy who stated, At forty-five days, the form of the child is very distinct The head is very large; the eyes, mouth, and nose are to be distinguished; the hands and arms are in the middle of its length At three months, the heart pulsates strongly, and the principal vessels carry red blood.
In the end, Thompsons spin on early American history as abortion-friendly falls flat. The reality is that abortion was not widely accepted in early American history. More often than not, mainstream leaders in early American society viewed abortion for what it is: an evil, and the deliberate killing of a human life.
Abortion was ALWAYS looked upon as a dirty and dark secret, driven to back alleys and never discussed. It was a bloody and criminal enterprise, undertaken only under the greatest of duress, and with a high probability that the mother would not survive the procedure either. Whether through bleed-out, or a raging infection, or by later suicide, the consequences were terrible and unforgiving, and even those who survived, many had permanently ended their child bearing years. Considering the alternatives of the time, few mothers would think of undergoing an abortion, even with the burden of another mouth to feed and the pain and grief of raising still one more child.
It was a different world, in so many ways. And not at all as pictured in this screed.
I wonder how he feels about slavery? It was also acceptable in the time frame he talks about.
“New York Times writer gets history wrong”
And in other news, water is wet.
The NYT has a long history of deliberate, cold blooded lies in the service of ideology. This is just more of the same.
I can remember when the hostess of “Romper Room” a TV series for young children went to Europe for an abortion because her baby was exposed to thalidomide. The parents of young children were so shocked they rose up and demanded that she be removed from the television show. This was in the early 1960s, as I recall as I was a child but old enough to understand what this lady had done.
I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract:
To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others.
I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.
I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
In purity and according to divine law will I carry out my life and my art.
I will not use the knife, even upon those suffering from stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in this craft.
Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves.
Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private.
So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate.
NOTE: THE PROHIBITION AGAINST ABORTION FOR ETHICAL REASONS (IT WAS CLEARLY LINKED TO THE TAKING OF A HUMAN LIFE, NOTE THE CONTEXT) GOES BACK TO THE 5TH CENTURY B.C.
It was not considered murder in those days because child birth was such an iffy thing. But they still wanted it to be banned so they made abortion a crime in its own right.
Using ether for surgery was common too.
But we have progressed.
We now have many alternatives to preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Muslims think that publicly cutting infidel’s heads of is “socially acceptable”.
Does THAT make it okay?
MURDER (abortion) is okay if it is “socially acceptable”?
Scientific “fact”, Life begins at conception.
The taking of an innocent life is “MURDER”.
A fertilized egg or baby in the womb is NOT part of a women’s body to dispose of as she sees fit.
The baby, (that the woman does not OWN), has its specific individual DNA, AT CONCEPTION.
ENOUGH of this “it’s MY body” BULLSHIRT!
She also noted that there used to be a herbal remedy called Silphium which in classical antiquity was used for a wide variety of purposes including as a flavoring, a treatment for anxiety/depression and an aphrodisiac. She said we don't know exactly what that plant was --- maybe related to common flavoring herbs like fennel, celery or parsley --- but it was a big money-maker in the limited places it could be cultivated, and rather a "fad" health and beauty food for ladies of the rich and fashionable class.
She opined it was a good thing it (for some reason) went extinct, because if it had not, it could arguably have extincted the upper classes of Hellenistic North Africa.
In Greek/Roman times, the cities along the coast of North Africa that had the Silphium business, put an image of the plant on their coins. I guess it paid to advertise.
Anyone who supports killing babies is insane. The left rationalize as sickeningly as the Nazis.
Sometimes “sylph” is used as a literary term for a delicate, slender young girl. Not sure if this is related to the plant :o/
That was similar to murder when I was growing up.
I see BS like this related to homosexuality; “scholars” pretend some ancient cultures (with no written records, of course) accepted or even hailed it. Ditto for female empowerment; no shortage of people pretending American Indians or Africans looked to women for leadership because there is no written record to disprove them.
Note to Rutgers University Press: You guys need your heads examined.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.