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A matter of historical fact, abortion were perfectly legal in this country at the time of the framing of the Constitution, its ratification, framing of the BORs and their ratification. Abortion remained legal for approx 100 year after that, and was perfectly acceptable to the churches of the day, so long as such took place before the "quickening" which usually was around the 4th or sometimes 5th month
Interesting side note as to why pressure was finally mounted to declare such illegal is that it was pure politics. The relatively new AMA wanted to drive mid wives out of business, wanted to force doctors to join their organizations, so they began courting politicians with money etc. Said politicians then passed laws that made wet nurses illegal, abortions illegal, unless performed by a doctor or at his advice, etc. Here is one source:
Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, by James C. Mohr. Oxford University Press, (1978 -- hardback, 1979--paperback) ISBN 0-19-502616-0
Chapters are as follows:
Abortion in America, 1800 - 1825
The First Wave of Abortion Legislation, 1821 - 1841
The Great Upsurge of Abortion, 1840 - 1880
The Social Character of Abortion in America, 1840 - 1880
The Transitional Legislation of, 1840 - 1860
The Physicians Crusade Against Abortion, 1857 - 1880
Public Opinion and the Abortion Issue, 1860 - 1880
Anti-Abortion Legislation, 1860 - 1880
Anti-Abortion as American Policy, 1880 -1900
Case Studies from Medical Publications Involving Abortions in the United States, 1839 - 1879
Case Studies from Medical Publications Involving Abortions in theUnited States, 1880 - 1900
Anti-Abortion Activity on the part of State and Local Medical Societies.Case Studies f
Another source is: Intimate Matters, A History Of Sexuality In America, by John D'Emilio & Estelle B. Freedman, Perennial Library (1988)
sources suggest that the incidence of abortion increased significantly in the nineteenth century. Estimates by reformers show that between 1800 and 1830, one abortion occurred for every twenty-five to thirty-five live births. By the 1850s the proportion had increased to as many as one abortion per every five to six live births. Some doctors pointed to higher rates of stillbirths as proof that more women were using abortifacients. It is possible that abortion began to supplant infanticide as a last resort for women who could not raise children. In at least one city, infanticide rates decreased markedly during the late nineteenth century.(25) Many doctors attributed the increase in abortions to married women who wished to limit family size, rather than to the traditional clients, unmarried women seeking to avoid the stigma of illegitimate birth. As one professor of medicine explained in 1857, abortion now involved not only those "who have been deceived and ensnared by the seducer" but also "the virtuous and the intelligent wife and mother." A report issued by the Michigan Board of health in 1878 estimated that one-third of all pregnancies in the state ended in abortion, and that seventy to eighty percent were secured by "prosperous and otherwise respectable married women." (26)
In the early nineteenth century, neither doctors, women, nor judges necessarily condemned these practices as long as they were performed within the early months of pregnancy. According to the prevalent doctrine of "quickening," life did not begin until a woman felt the fetus move within her, **after about three months.** (EMPHASIS MINE ) Laws enacted between 1820 and 1840 to regulate abortion retained the quickening doctrine. . . Even when the state did prosecute for illegal abortion, the courts remained tolerant, as was the case in Mass., where not one conviction resulted from thrity-two abortion trials between 1849 and 1857. Between 1860 and 1890, however, forty states and territories enacted antiabortion statues, many of which rejected the quickening doctrine, placed limitations on advertisements, and help transfer the authority for abortion from women to doctors. (27) The new antiabortion laws, like the Comstock Act placed obstacles in the way of controlling reproduction, but women and married couples attempted to overcome them. Intimate Matters, A History Of Sexuality In America, by John D'Emilio & Estelle B. Freedman, Perennial Library (1988) pp 65-66.
In the absence of any legislation whatsoever on the subject of abortion in the United States in 1800, the legal status of the practice was governed by the traditional British common law as interpreted by the local courts of the new American states. For centuries prior to 1800 the key to the common law's attitude toward abortion had been a phenomenon associated with normal gestation known as quickening. Quickening was the first perception of fetal movement by the pregnant woman herself. **Quickening generally occurred near the midpoint of gestation, late in the fourth or early in the fifth month, though it could and still does vary a good deal from one woman to another.** (EMPHASIS MINE) The common law did not formally recognize the existence of a fetus in criminal cases until it had quickened. After quickening, the expulsion and destruction of a fetus without due cause was considered a crime, because the fetus itself had manifested some semblance of a separate existence: the ability to move. The crime was qualitatively different from the destruction of a human being, however, and punished less harshly. Before quickening, actions that had the effect of terminating what turned out to have been an early pregnancy were not considered criminal under the common law in effect in England and the United States in 1800.' Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, by James C. Mohr. Oxford University Press, (1978 -- hardback, 1979--paperback) pp 3-4
Carol Lee Smith contributed the following:
Quickening: "Mothers who have already felt movement in a previous pregnancy are usually able to perceive quickening earlier (at approximately 16 weeks) while first time mothers feel it a bit later (at 18 weeks)
Pregnancy is 10 lunar months long, approximately 280 days. 16 wks would equal four lunar months and 18 would be half way thru the 5th lunar month.
quickening: forgot to include the url: http://www.parentsplace.com/pregnancy/trimester2/qa/0,3105,13224,00.html
16 weeks from LMP would be about 14 weeks
12 weeks would be a full three LUNAR months. 16 weeks would be four full LUNAR months.
14 weeks would be smack dab in the middle of the fourth lunar month.
As the website I posted indicated, many women, especially those pregnant for the first time, have difficulty distinguishing between bowel rumblings and fetal rumblings.
CONTINUE ON TO EARLY AMERICA SEX, MARRIAGE, CHILDREN, GAYS, LESBIANS, BOYS AS GIRLS, ABORTION, BREECHING, FAMILY AND OTHER MYTHS. PART 7