Kim Storment on Greek culture and abortion
*** in a message to Kim Storment 12-20-90 George Mosley said:
GM> Incidentally, if the a. topic ever comes back up & someone tries
GM> to make the appeal to history (our degenerate times allow
GM> abortions), I now have proof that it occurred for centuries
GM> without censure in Rome, Greece (which everyone seems to know
GM> about), and the Gaullic/Germanic areas.
That is not strictly speaking true for Greece or Rome. At various
times in Greek culture there were attempts to make abortion illegal
so as not to allow the woman any power. At the same time however the
father was allowed to expose any of his children that he wished. You
can see this in the original text of the Hippocratic oath. Of course
there were times in Greek history when abortion was allowed, or at
least if illegal not punished. Of course what was true for one city
at any particular time might not be true for another at the same
time. With the wide variety of city states at any given time you
probably could find a place where a woman was allowed to get an
abortion, as well as a place she was not.
In the early period of Rome population pressure forced some
emperors to prohibit the fathers traditional right to expose his
children. At the same time abortion was also banned by law.
However, by the time of the empire abortion was once again legal in
many circumstances, and tolerated in the rest.
I find that many people who try to refute abortion by using history
seem to think that abortion was not allowed in the days of the
"Founding Fathers", they think of it as a recent event. On the
contrary, the illegality of abortion was a recent event, from the mid
1800's. Abortions were performed, nor were illegal in the US, "At
the beginning of the nineteenth century all countries with British
Common law allowed abortions at least until quickening (about four
moths gestation) and possibly throughout pregnancy" . The first
state to restrict abortions was Connecticut in 1821, which passed a
law prohibiting a woman "quick with child"  from receiving an
abortion, which still left her free to receive one within the first
four months of pregnancy. In 1828 New York passed it's first
anti-abortion law in an attempt to protect the life of the MOTHER.
The death rate from abortions was 30%, as opposed to 3% from delivery
. The anti-abortion movement of the mid 1800's was brought about
by physicians in an attempt to, "professionalize medicine" . They
also desired to use the anti-abortion laws against their competition
. Therefore, you should point out to anti-choicers, we can view
the attempts to ban abortion as a recent irregularity in cultural
norms, brought about by an attempt to provide better health care for
women, which is no longer necessary. :-}
1. Abortion Freedom a Worldwide Movement, C. Francome 1984.
2. Abortion in America, J.C. Mohr 1978.
3. The Phoenix of Abortion Freedom, C. Means 1971.