Typos p. 65: Uwin [= Unwin]; p. 76: sursoundings [= surroundings]; p. 78: fur [= für]; p. 84: sequlae [= sequelae]; p. 107: borne [= born]
F. W. Stella Browne, A. M. Ludovici and Harry Roberts
George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
- p. 51 -
The case against legalized artificial abortion
A. M. Ludovici
Author of "Woman: A Vindication," "Man: An Indictment,"
"The Night Hoers," "The Choice of a Mate," etc.
- p. 52 -
The case against legalized artificial abortion
According to an eminent medical authority, Dr. L. A. Parry, abortion "refers to the expulsion of the contents of the gravid uterus during the first six months of pregnancy, i.e. before the time at which delivery of a living child is possible," and thereafter till full term, "namely, from the sixth to the ninth month, delivery is referred to as premature labour." He then defines criminal abortion as the unlawful expulsion of the contents of the womb during any part of the period of gestation, short of actual delivery." 1
As it cannot be the intention of those in favour of legalizing artificial abortion to countenance the interruption of pregnancy in its later stages, when the operation is most harmful, I propose to discuss their claims on the assumption that they wish only to imitate the Russian practice, which is to confine
1 C.A., p. 1. Cf. Prof. Beckwith Whitehouse, who says: "By 'abortion' is meant expulsion of the developing ovum from the uterus before the foetus, by ordinary standards, is generally considered to be viable that is, before the end of the seventh month of pregnancy."
In so doing I shall examine the case against Legalized Artificial Abortion under three heads:
(1) The ideology behind the movement for legalizing artificial abortion.
(2) The pleas in favour of the measure advanced by leaders of the movement.
(3) The reasons why the legalizing of artificial abortion should be resisted (in so far as these have not already been discussed under (2)).
* * *
The greatest deception of all, in this respect, has, of course, been the Woman's Movement itself so-called Feminism which in its exclusive concern about masculinizing women and encouraging them to accept male interests and responsibilities has
1 A.L.I., p. 80. See also B.M.J., October 4, 1930: "Legal abortions [in Russia] are carried on in the hospitals, generally during the second month of pregnancy." Dr. A. Gens, moreover, states that "Soviet legislation allows this operation [for abortion] until the completion of three months' pregnancy, but not later." S.R.C., p. 147.
This does not mean that men themselves and their outlook have never been more masculine than they are to-day. Because, despite the masculine accent over every modern desire and ambition, degeneration has softened men's bodies and minds and diluted their spirit. But, in sinking into sub-parity and sub normality, and in rolling down to the lower levels of our hospital of a world, it is as if mankind, at least in the West, had tumbled in a masculine direction, so that all spheres (as when the three balls are pocketed together at billiards) have dropped into one common bag a poor degenerate bag, but a masculine one.
It is impossible here to give all the evidence in favour of this contention; but perhaps if I can show that scientists themselves, in spite of their boasted "objectivity," have also adopted the mono-sexual outlook, the reader, without further ado, will concede my point that the unscientific lay public are guilty of the same error, though naturally to a much greater extent.
The modern mono-sexual or masculine movement which produced Feminism began to lift its head in the early years of last century, not only in a woman like Mary Wollstonecroft but, strange to say, also
The glamour of war, of the male in war, of martial music and martial prowess all these factors at the beginning of the nineteenth century may have led to an unconscious revolt on the part of women being excluded from these moments in life. And this revolt, coupled with an old Greek, but recently revived, tendency to exalt the male and male callings, no doubt led to the modern feminist movement, which tries to exalt the female by masculinizing her.
How compare adversely a dray with a race horse? How compare adversely a greyhound with a spaniel? Is adaptation to function not the main criterion? In what way is man more beautiful than woman? By what standards? By what canon of beauty, by what authority?
It is just as absurd to say that man is more beautiful than woman as to state the converse. You can make the claim only if you have forgotten the
1 Unterhaltungen Mit dem Kanzler Friedrich von Müller (Stuttgart, 1898, p. 231).
Goethe, however, was but the beginning. He was confirmed by Schopenhauer, and the whole century went ever madder under its mono-sexual accent. So much so that latterly, as I have hinted, scientists, forgetting their objectivity, have joined in the sexual-monomorphic chorus.
Thus Dr. Heilborn, in a recent work, says: "The natural knock knees of the woman are, aesthetically, the greatest blemish in the figure of the small narrow-shouldered, wide-hipped, and short-legged sex." 1 He speaks as if the male leg had established an aesthetic canon, departure from which constitutes a blemish. But how can he do this unless he is unconsciously labouring under the prevailing monomorphic attitude to sex?
There is no space to quote scores of similar "scientific" utterances, so I must content myself with quoting one who is regarded as the most authoritative sexologist of this century. Writing on this very point, Havelock Ellis says: "This obliquity of the legs is the most conspicuous aesthetic defect of the feminine form in the erect position." 2 Seeing that, in the absence of aesthetic canons, it is as pointless to argue either that the male leg is superior to the female leg, or vice versa, we are
1 The Opposite Sexes (London, 1917, p. 14).
2 Man and Woman (London, 1904, p. 50).
Another flagrant instance of the sexual monomorphic bias (which now happens to be masculine) is the Birth-Control Movement, which has aimed at securing for the woman the male's adaptation to sex without the so-called "worst consequences" (the baby), and at warding off the menace of over-population, without any consideration whatsoever for the functions and needs of the female body.
Seeing that the average woman's active sexual life lasts from her fourteenth to her forty-sixth or fiftieth year, by limiting her to two or three children as the birth controllers wish to do (and in an enormous number of homes the one child family a purely male arrangement is now established) means that for whole decades of her sexual life she is not functioning normally as a woman at all, but has merely done the service to her male of securing his sexual adaptation, and, in so doing, has assimilated her sex to his, the complete cycle of which begins and ends with sexual congress.
There is, unfortunately, no space to enter into the grave consequences of this inhuman treatment of woman; 1 but I can assure those who imagine that her specific sexual cycle can, for the greater part of her sexual life, be thus assimilated to the
1 See, however, my N.H. and my Choice of a Mate (London, 1935) for a fairly exhaustive discussion of the graver consequences of the assimilation of the female to the male.
Nevertheless, under the influence of our masculine and monomorphic view of sex, there appears superficially to be so little wrong with birth control that an enormous number of its advocates are actually women, and women eagerly embrace its teaching. Surely this is proof enough of the extent to which current values can corrupt even instinct!
True, many of the advocates of birth control are not scientists or in a position to appreciate the enormity of their propaganda. On the other hand, there are many medical people among them, and even these seem to be unaware of their monomorphic view of sex.
I cannot quote all the medical experts who are guilty of this unconscious subservience to the paramount values of the
1 For references to a number of them, see my N.H.
2 Eugenics Review, April. The italics are mine. A.M.L.
When it is remembered that this modern, monomorphic view of sex is now backed in women's minds by all the panic created through the tragic muddle into which the normal function of parturition has been allowed to fall; 2 when it is remembered that its plausibility seems superficially obvious in the face of the economic struggle and the recent emancipation and industrialization of women; when, moreover, the reader appreciates the temptation
1 This is the more surprising, because nobody could have stated with greater clarity than Ellis has done the masculine bias behind the Feminist Movement. S.P.S., vol. vi, p. 4, where he says: "In England, by a consciously perverted form of sexual attraction, women were so fascinated by the glamour that surrounded men that they desired to suppress or forget all the facts of organic constitution which made them unlike men, counting their glory as their shame; and sought the same education as men, the same occupations as men, even the same sports."
2 That this statement about panic is not exaggerated is shown by a letter from A. C. Haddow, M.B., Ch.B. (B.M.J., January 1, 1935, p. 84), where the writer says: "The unrestrained publicity given to the subject of maternal mortality in this country has brought upon the general practitioner the onus of reassuring, in some fashion or other, those whose duty it is to go on producing noble Britons . . . so many women who appear to be in every way eligible for motherhood refuse to accept the fact of pregnancy until they have tried out a variety of expedients advocated by the friends and neighbours to whom they have communicated their panic."
If I have not now said enough to demonstrate the heavy masculine accent that hangs over this Feminist Age, I can only refer the reader to my Choice of a Mate (chap. iii, part ii), where he will find a more elaborate statement of my case.
In the movement in favour of legalized abortion, which has recently been gathering strength in almost
In the present volume, Miss Stella Browne assumes much the same attitude. The whole tenor of her argument is ingeniously calculated to suggest to the less alert reader that, in order to be an opponent of legalized abortion, one must deny that women "are really human beings," and deny their "freedom of choice and deliberate intention" (a wonderful phrase for catching the unwary!) "necessary for them in their sexual relations and their maternity."
Thus anyone accepting Miss Browne's statement of the case would immediately assume that, because I deny that women are men and can lead the same sexual life as men (i.e. function normally as sexual organisms by means of coitus and the orgasm alone),
1 Lancet, November 3, 1934, p. 1028.
Again, anyone accepting Miss Stella Browne's statement of the case would assume that, because deny that women are men, and that women have any unconditional "right" to terminate their pregnancies, I therefore deny that they can have "that freedom of choice and deliberate intention" which are "necessary for them in their sexual relations I and their maternity." But these things have no connexion with each other. Woman exercises her freedom of choice and displays her deliberate intention in her sexual relations and her maternity when she admits (either by marriage or by so-called "illicit" love) the man of her choice to intimate relations with her. Miss Browne argues that she cannot be free in either case unless she can interrupt her pregnancy that is to say, unless, at great personal risk, she can drastically arrest a most elaborate natural process!
You might as well argue that, unless you grant a man the right in mid-Channel to exercise his free
1 As she does on pp. 4445 in this volume.
This shows how specious the argument is. But it is a very useful argument to Miss Browne, because it is by posing as the champion of "freedom," "deliberate intention," and "humanity" that you rouse emotion and draw the unwary into your propagandist net.
Havelock Ellis himself acknowledges that in England "motherhood is without dignity," 1 and when a function has been deprived of dignity it is
1 S.P.S., vol. vi, p. 4.
The fact that my claim concerning the masculine bias behind the movement in favour of legalized abortion is not imaginary may be seen from the following instances:
Anton Nemilov, pleading for the measure on "ethical" and "sociological" grounds, speaks of the "biological tragedy" of woman (as, in a different " culture, some blind sentimentalist with a feminine bias might point to the "biological tragedy" of man, because of the fact that he has no womb, no breasts, and has hair on his face!); and he says, "It is not for women to seek a different path, but, on the contrary, for society to advance to a point where the biological handicap shall no longer deter women from marching in step with man." 1
Later on he says: "Everything for the foetus, all for the 'genius of the race,' and for the mother nothing but nausea, toothache, and physiological discomforts of every kind.'" 2
This is typical of the stock-in-trade of modern polemists arguing with an unconscious masculine bias about woman and her joys. It would be just as sensible, speaking of the worst modern man, to say: "Everything for the purposes of society and the species, and for the man nothing but flatulence, indigestion, constipation, piles, anal fistulas, and physiological discomforts of every kind."
1 The Biological Tragedy of Woman (London, George Allen & Uwin, Ltd., 1932, p. 197).
2 Ibid., p. 72.
This, however, is to condemn woman, or to let her condemn herself, to a sexual life differing only for a brief period from that of the male. What justification is there for the plea, unless we overlook her specialized equipment and functions? What divine voice has informed Drs. Dunlop and Rongy that two or three children are an adequate expression of a woman's sexual powers, when Nature has given her a reproductive life of at least thirty years?
Throughout an address in favour of legalized abortion given by Dr. Hertha Riese in 1929, she insisted on woman's biological right to "sexual experience," with the added right to be free from the necessity of having children. 3 But, unless we have a monomorphic view of humanity, and that a male one, how can we conceive of a woman's exercising her "biological right to sexual expression" without having a child? If she have only repeated orgasms ad infinitum, she is but exercising the male biological right to sexual expression!
Dr. Riese's whole argument in favour of legalized abortion and she is only one among many amounts
1 B.M.J., November 26, 1932, p. 968.
2 A.L.I., p. 209.
3 S.R.C., p. 230.
There is no need to labour this point about the relation of the modern agitation for legalized abortion to the prevailing masculine or monomorphic view of the sexual life, and regarding it as established, I shall proceed to examine some of the more cogent pleas advanced in favour of legalized abortion by those in favour of the reform.
* * *
1 S.R.C., p. 229.
2 A.L.I., chap. ii. S.R.C., pp. 178, 179. See also Dr. Killick Millard, B.M.J., November 26, 1932. p. 968.
Before an uninformed gallery they thus place their opponents in the same category as a monk of the Middle Ages, resisting enlightened heresy, and themselves side by side with the martyrs who are the milestones of scientific progress.
This is ingenious and effective; but only before an audience ignorant of the actual facts. Unfortunately, against an opponent like myself, than whom no one has written more unmercifully and more unanswerably against Christianity and Puritanism, such a plea and such a pose are obviously futile.
Show me that legalized abortion is ethically unassailable; convince me that the Church (whether the Holy Catholic or the Protestant schismatic) is opposed to legalized abortion on theological-dogmatic grounds, and try to shame me by the disreputableness of my associates in opposition, and still I reply that legalized abortion is wrong and to be resisted by all means in our power, although I repudiate the grounds adopted by my religious and superstitious associates in the opposition.
All the efforts of Dr. Rongy, Miss Stella Browne,
Like Dr. Van de Velde, I find myself on the side of theology in this matter. 1 But even my discomfiture over my ecclesiastical associates in the opposition does not shake me; because I have other, more scientific, reasons than they have for resisting the other side. But this alone suffices to demonstrate the hollowness and disingenuousness of the innuendo that resistance to the legalizing of abortion must emanate from some religious dogma. 2
(B) Another favourite plea of the other side is as follows: Since artificial abortion, like the poor, will always be with us, and will be performed in underhand, inexpert, and therefore lethal or mutilating ways if it continues to be carried on in defiance of the law, it is only elementary common
1 Fertility and Sterility in Marriage (London, 1931, p. 427).
2 Those who, like myself, have always opposed birth control on purely scientific grounds, have had to meet the same charge of theological prejudice in that controversy.
Superficially, this seems so reasonable that anyone dreading the charge of Boeotian denseness and brutality can hardly summon the courage to oppose it. Examined more narrowly, however, it appears much less cogent, and for the following reasons:
(i) It is not wholly true to say that surreptitious abortions are suppressed when abortion has been legalized.
Two reports I possess (both from non-native sources) certainly support the view that illegal operations have diminished in Russia, 2 but in a later report based on the findings of Russian doctors themselves, it is stated that, despite the wholesale legal abortions of recent years, "criminal abortion was far from being suppressed." 3 While, according to one second-hand report, "State abortions had not resulted in the diminution, but in the enormous increase of abortions outside State control." 4
When the State itself becomes a wholesale competitor, the traffic in illegal abortions could hardly
1 See, for instance, Dr. Norman Haire, S.R.C., p. 110, and J.A.M.A., July 29, 1933; Dr. Rongy, A.L.I., chap. vi, particularly; Dr. Killick Millard, B.M.J., November 20, 1932, p. 968.
2 Teste Medical Press, December 18, 1929, and B.M.J., October 4, 1930.
3 J.A.M.A., February 4, 1933.
4 Dr. Letitia Fairfield on Russia (B.M.J., November 20, 1932).
(ii) If we pause to consider the only conditions under which even the most wildly revolutionary State can with a vestige of wisdom legalize abortion, it immediately becomes clear that illegal abortionists and their services cannot be banished from the community.
These conditions are:
(a) That no State can acquiesce in aborting the same woman an indefinite number of times; consequently, it must set a limit to the number of abortions it will induce in the same woman. In Russia this limit is three or four. 1 But this means that determined women who wish for more than three or four will go to the unlicensed abortionist.
(b) That, owing to the particularly harmful results of abortion in the first pregnancy, 2 no State can acquiesce in such abortions unless childbirth would seriously endanger the woman's life. In Russia such abortions are illegal. 3 As, however, first pregnancies are those which gills are often most
1 Lancet, November 3, 1034.
2 Dr. A. Gens (himself a Russian doctor pleading for legalized abortion) says: "From the medical standpoint the interruption of the first pregnancy is the most harmful of all" (S.R.C., p. 140).
3 A.L.I., p. 79.
(c) That owing to the much greater clanger to life and health in abortions of late pregnancies, no State can wisely countenance them. In Russia abortions are forbidden "if the pregnancy has been continued for two and a half months." 1 But this, again, means recourse to the illegal abortionist in all undesired pregnancies later than three months.
So that on these three grounds alone, apart from motives of privacy, secrecy, and fear, which will always operate in favour of keeping a surreptitious abortion service alive, it is romantic and unscientific to suppose that legalized abortion will suppress the surreptitious and more lethal traffic in abortions.
(C) A further favourite plea of the other side is that every woman, by virtue of the right over her own body, is entitled to decide whether the forming foetus within her shall or shall not become an independent human being.
This argument, advanced with full-throated sentimentality by women like Helene Stöcker, Oda Olbcrg, Elizabeth Zanziger, and Camilla Jellinek, might be neglected as too silly for refutation, were it not reiterated by people who really ought to know better.
1 A.L.I., p. 80. Gens (S.R.C., p. 147) says, "Soviet legislation allows this operation until the completion of three months' pregnancy, but not later." Miss D. M. Odium (Lancet, November 3, 1934) says that abortion in Russia "is carried out between the fifth and twelfth weeks of pregnancy."
In view of the occasion on which this was said, the only meaning of these words is that a woman, having conceived, should have the right to decide whether her pregnancy should go to term or not. This endorses the view of the women above mentioned, and of Miss Stella Browne herself, who has stated the case "for the absolute freedom of choice on the woman's part in the early months of pregnancy." 3 Even Dr. Norman Haire also implicitly assumes this view, because he has said "that it might be better if the law of England was changed so that women could have their pregnancy interrupted if they wished to
Now, although it is deplorable for laymen to argue in this way, it is at least excusable, because (a) they hear apparently responsible and qualified people arguing in a similar way; (b) they hear only distorted accounts of legalized abortion abroad; and (c) they have no access to information which would show them the grave consequences of the measures they advocate.
1 N.H., pp. 10813.
2 B.M.J., November 26, 1932.
3 S.R.C., p. 178, and also in her paper in this volume. See p. 31 supra.
4 Ibid., p. 110.
My opponents lay stress on the statistics from Russia. "They say, for instance, that at the abortion clinics in Moscow 90,000 abortions in 1930 and 140,000 in the two preceding years resulted in only one casualty per 20,000 cases. 3 Or, adopting a vaguer method, they speak of the "good" results achieved in the Soviet Union, 4 or say merely: "In
2 S.R.C., p. 179.
3 Dr. Norman Haire, J.A.M.A., July 29, 1933, p. 386.
4 Dr. J. Leunbach, S.R.C., p. 139.
But what is serious even more serious than death from the standpoint of a creature's rights over his or her own body, is the damage which, though not always lethal, makes that creature subnormal or morbid for the rest of its life. And this is all the more serious nowadays, seeing that so much disease falls as a burden on the State and consequently on the healthy and the sound.
Thus the sociologist and legislator is less interested in the high percentage of survivals in State-controlled abortion than in the question whether such interruptions of pregnancy do not cause permanent harm to the women concerned.
I suggest that to anyone aware of the physiological facts it would, on a priori grounds alone, seem incredible that these State abortions in Russia, even under the best hospital conditions, can be performed without some permanent damage to the women concerned. And here Sir Ewen Maclean supports my view; for at the Annual Representative Meeting of the British Medical Association in 193.1 he is reported to have said that "he himself had received
1 Dr. A. Gens, S.R.C., p. 146.
2 Dr. Binnie Dunlop, B.M.J., November 26, 1932. See also Miss Stella Browne, S.R.C., p. 181.
I am willing to set aside the question of mortality, of which so much is made by my opponents, and even to accept their figures.
But what are the facts about morbidity? According to Dr. Levit, who spent "a fairly long time in Russia," chronic consecutive diseases of the genital organs ensue in about 20 per cent of ambulatory performed curettage cases in Russian clinics, where the operation is performed "under aseptic conditions by competent doctors in clinical sursoundings" . . . and "according to the observations of [Dr.] Bronnikowa, at the State Gynaecological Clinic of Moscow, normal uncomplicated labours both in young and old persons last from one to seven hours longer in those who previously underwent an abortion or abortions than in those
1 B.M.J. Supplement, August 4, 1934. Here Dame Louise McIlroy supports him. She "frankly disbelieved that wholesale abortion as practised in Russia could go on without any serious septic sequelae" (B.M.J., November 20, 1932). Dr. McCann took the same view (Ibid.). Even Dr. Binnie Dunlop confessed his doubts about the Russian figures (Ibid). But why, then, that remark in his opening speech? (See p. 75 supra, note 2.)
In 54.17 per cent of 1921 women who had been artificially aborted and become sterile in consequence between 1926 and 1930, Dr. N. Kakuschkin of Saratow found "inflammatory changes in the uterine adnexa" (242 cases or 35.5 per cent), "inflammations in the pelvis" (167 cases or 24.5 per cent), "catarrhal processes in the uterus and vagina" (52 cases or 7.6 per cent), "atrophic processes" (14 cases or 2.05 per cent), etc. And these conditions he interprets "as the sequelae of artificial abortion in connection with infection and hormonal trauma." It is also interesting to note that in 49.1 per cent of cases of sterility, only one abortion had sufficed to establish the condition.
He also observed 597 aborted women to discover possible post abortive disturbances of the menstrual cycle, and found 197 or 33 per cent deviated from the normal. Thirty-three or 16.7 per cent had no other
1 Medical Press, December 18, 1929. See also p. 85 infra for confirmation of last paragraph.
Many cases of marked reduction of sexual desire and of total absence of sexual pleasure occurred in his material, and in most of his patients these symptoms accompanied menstrual disorders, sterility, etc. Thus he found sterility and reduction of sexual desire together in 74 cases (i.e. 77 per cent).
He concludes with the following weighty remarks: "It is probable that in these cases, more so than in other post-abortive disturbances, a hormone trauma is the root of the trouble; but we should also reckon with the possible effect of anatomical injuries connected with the abrasion of the gravid uterus. The violent drawing down of the uterus, the forcible dilatation of the cervical canal, and the traumatic curettage of the wall of the uterus may possibly injure the nervous mechanism on which sexual sensations depend, which lies in the region of the ligamenta sacro uterina." 1
Those of my medical opponents who try to create the impression that post-abortive morbidity becomes a serious consideration only when unskilled, criminal abortionists and surreptitious and unfavourable circumstances are in question can find no confir-
1 Zentralblatt fur Gynäkologie (November 24, 1934, No. 47, pp. 27932797).
I have also a report showing that Verkhratsky in 1931 found 13.5 abnormal complications in 1,242 artificial abortions, and that Anufrieff in 1931 claimed "that curettage of the uterus is a procedure fraught with serious consequences." 2 Tabulating the other facts recorded in this report on legalized abortion in Russia (which, it is true, deals with an earlier period than that Kakuschkin deals with), they are as follows:
"Cervical tears and ectropion eversion of the cervical mucosa were the most frequent complications. . . .
1 See, for instance. Miss Odium's account of the operation (Lancet, November 3, 1934).
2 J.A.M.A., February 4, 1933.
"New infections were caused by lighting up old infections left by previous abortions.
"General sepsis was four times as frequent after repeated abortions as after one abortion, and adnexal inflammation [i.e. of parts adjacent to uterus] twice as frequent.
"Another bad result of a curettage was the retention of a part of conception causing bleeding.
"Among the remote results, scars of the internal os led to dysmenorrhoea, to stasis of menstrual blood in the tubes, and occasionally to external adenomyosis [tumour].
"Scars in the uterine wall could lead to a rupture in a subsequent pregnancy.
"The replacement of normal uterine mucosa was responsible for oligomenorrhoea [scanty menstruation] in 74 per cent of the cases, and amenorrhoea [absence of menstruation] in 10 per cent, as well as for secondary sterility and habitual abortion."
According to Serdukov, the sudden loss of decidual secretion (i.e. the secretion coming from the lining of the womb in gestation) was deleterious to the ovaries and the uterus. He found "in the ovary a disturbed follicle function, cystic degeneration, parenchymatous atrophy [shrinking of ovarian tissue], and thickening of the tunica albuginea [of the ovary]. Particularly interesting were the instances
"Abortion was named as the cause in 20 per cent of cases of parametritis and adnexitis.
"Of 264 patients operated on for inflammatory lesions, 30.3 per cent had a history of abortions.
"The incidence of secondary sterility after induced abortion was 5.4 per cent," and that of "extra-uterine pregnancy was considerably raised.
"According to Kirillow there were 59 tubal pregnancies following 3,790 abortions, or 1.3 per cent.
"Postpartum fever [i.e. fever following childbirth] occurred in 32 per cent, as contrasted with 9.5 per cent in cases in which abortion had not been performed.
"Duration of labour was prolonged over the normal.
"The period of placental expulsion was likewise much longer.
"Incomplete placenta, manual removal of the placenta, and placenta praevia were much more frequent.
"Postpartum haemorrhages were from five to six times as frequent.
"Retention of membranes and subinvolution [deficient return of uterus to the normal] from two to three times as frequent.
"An increase of stillbirths was likewise recorded.
"Several authors . . . maintain that a sudden disturbance of the function of the ovary, the corpus luteum [a gland in the ovary functioning in preg-
"Among the psychic disturbances are noted depression, hysteria, frigidity, dyspareunia (pain in sexual congress], and marital discord."
The more pessimistic utterances were: "Chronic inflammations of the uterus and the adnexa, as well as abortions without end, is the heritage of these years.
"There is no disease of the female in the causation of which abortion does not play an important part.
"When we report 140,000 abortions a year we report just that many women on the road to invalidism.
"The consensum regarded legalized abortion as a psychic, moral, and social evil." 1
Now, these are Russian doctors reporting on their own service. Elsewhere we read that Dr. Karlin of
1 The whole of the above has been taken from J.A.M.A., February 4, 1933. Dr. Norman Haire contests the results of artificial abortion above quoted, and declares that their pessimistic tone is due to the fact that the majority of the distressing cases to which they refer relate to abortions not actually performed in hospital but surreptitiously. (See J.A.M.A., July 29, 1933, pp. 386387.) But in view of the last sentence quoted from the report; in view of Kakuschkin's findings and those of other authors regarding the so-called "hormone trauma" of an interrupted pregnancy; and in view of the energy with which Russia is now trying to combat artificial abortion even of the legal kind, it is not unfair to assume that much of the above is true, whether of legal or surreptitious abortion.
The above should suffice, in view of space limits, to show that the actual death-rates in State-controlled abortions in Russia is but the bright side of the picture. It is the after-effects upon the women aborted, even under the best hospital conditions, that constitute the most serious side.
And the Russians themselves are fully alive to this serious aspect of the position, and are now doing everything, short of abrogating the law, to put a stop to the stampede for abortion.
As early as 1929, Dr. A. Gens said: "We are now conducting with greater vigour the campaign against abortion as such. We are continually explaining to the people the evil effects of abortion even if it be from beginning to end performed in hospital." 2
The fact that the method adopted is dilation of
1 C.A., p. 20. See also J.A.M.A., April 15, 1933, p. 1212, for another report of Dr. Karlin's views and findings on 4,614 cases of abortions performed for social indications in Leningrad. The italics are mine. A.M.L.
2 S.R.C., p. 152. See also Dr. Haire's remarks to the same effect (J.A.M.A., July 29, 1933).
So that, reading between the lines, and appreciating the importance of the damaging admission made by Dr. Gens himself regarding "the evil effects of abortion even if it be from beginning to end performed in hospital," and of the statement previously made regarding the hormonic or biological trauma resulting from operations made to interrupt pregnancy, I suggest that, while giving full weight to Dr. Haire's vigorous protest against the sequelae tabulated on pp. 7982 above, we cannot ignore them, nor can we accept the view that such results are to be expected only from surreptitious abortions. For Dr. Kakuschkin's report deals with later material than that which provoked Dr. Haire's protest, and his work entirely confirms the earlier report. Moreover, he makes an admission which invalidates the case of those who would lay all the blame for morbid sequlae upon unskilled or
l Le Problème Sexuelle (February 1935), p. 10. Miss Odium, on the other hand, says ether is usually administered at the first abortion, but subsequently only if the patient asks for it (Lancet, November 3, 1934).
2 Ibid. (February 1935, pp. 1011).
What, then, is the value of the incessant clamour raised by the advocates of legalized abortion, seeing that they consistently nourish only the low death-rate in the wholesale State abortions of Russia? What becomes of the claim of Dr. Killick Millard and his female sympathizers, "that a [pregnant] woman should have some right to say whether she should become a mother or not?" 2
If granted for other reasons than those now allowed by the law (which allows induced abortion in certain diseases and conditions of the body), it would be tantamount to giving people the right to mutilate and make valetudinarians of themselves. Can there be such a right?
No! Because the wanton creation of invalidism imposes intolerable burdens (already sufficiently heavy) upon those sound workers who are supplying the services and wealth of the nation. If there
1 Op. cit., p. 2796.
2 Miss Browne makes the same plea in the present volume, and Mr. Alec Craig advances it in S.R. (pp. 7788). The word "pregnant" in square brackets is introduced because in Dr. Killick Millard's context it is implied. Without it the claim appears reasonable, because a woman should be able to decide whether she should have a mate or not. But that is not the meaning, hence my introduction of the word pregnant.
Obviously no such right can be conceded. Even to concede the right to suicide would, from the sociological point of view, be wiser and more far sighted. And we can therefore dismiss Dr. Killick Millard's claim as only one further example added to his already recorded illogicalities,
Thus, in spite of Victor Margueritte's specious catch-word, ton corps est à toi, as a matter of fact it is not and never has been à toi, from the very first moment when man began to be conscious and to depend on his neighbour in sickness and disability within a gregarious horde.
(D) A fourth plea is as follows: "If you refuse legalized abortion, you are only forcing women to criminal abortion, which is more likely to lead to disastrous sequelae."
I have already replied in part to this plea under (B) above, where I showed that, no matter whether you legalize abortion or not, you cannot suppress criminal or surreptitious abortion for the reasons
Secondly, if only the disingenuous propaganda in favour of legalized abortion would cease, and if only those who carried it on refrained from dinning into the cars of an uninformed gallery of women the alleged safety and harmlessness of abortion carried out under the best hospital conditions, there would be less eagerness to face the ordeal of criminal abortion.
So long as ignorant women are led to believe that abortion, when skilfully performed, is as easy and harmless as having a corn extracted, they will naturally infer that it can be done just as harmlessly in secret as in public, especially if they are assured that the surreptitious abortionist is skilled, as presumably they always are, and are, moreover, kept in total darkness concerning the kind of operation that is necessary for the interruption of pregnancy. 1
If, however, they knew the truth, which is that artificial abortion, even under the best hospital conditions, is a precarious undertaking, so frequently leading to invalidism as never to be "safe"; if, moreover, we spread the truth about Russia's legalized abortions, and put a slop to the false
1 Tardieu, in his time, noticed that this ignorance of the practical side of inducing abortion often characterized the women concerned (A., p. 53).
What do I mean by "vanishing-point" here? I mean that point at which only those cases would occur in which a woman calmly prefers to face death or lifelong misery rather than a confinement. And, as I have shown, these cases will always be with us, and will always involve a criminal abortion service, even if we institute legalized abortion; because there are certain things which even the maddest State cannot undertake to do to a woman, which she may wish to have done to her, and for which she will find the human instruments somewhere in the underworld other nation.
Take the case of a girl who allows her first, secret pregnancy to proceed beyond the third month simply because she has been irregular in the past, and cannot be certain whether she is pregnant or not, and dare not ask anybody. As Tardieu and others have shown, the majority of criminal abortions occur between the third and sixth month. Why? Because the girl or married woman with a secret pregnancy acquires certainty about it only at that period. 1 But even Russian law cannot tolerate induced abortion in the case either of a first preg-
1 A., pp. 18 and 55. See also M.O.M., p. 79. "Quickening is usually found to occur between the eighteenth and twentieth weeks."
So that the solution cannot be legalized abortion. It must be the awakening of the female section of the community to the extreme dangers (not by any means merely lethal) of artificial abortion. 1
Speaking of the dangers, Dr. Beckwith Whitehouse says: "Let there be no mistake about it, in spite of all that has been said and written to the contrary during recent months, there is an appreciable risk involved in emptying a uterus of the products of conception . . . there is no doubt that the procuring of abortion is regarded by many respected members of the lay public in the light of being 'a small operation.' " Then, quoting Dr. Wiesner with approval, and referring to the after-histories of the women who have undergone operations to interrupt their pregnancies, Dr. Whitehouse writes: "It is completely untrue, and one of the most radical errors ever made, to think that such a shock can be administered to the endocrine system without interfering with the health and biological conditions of the mother. The ovum, and particularly the placenta, represents a very active endocrine gland, and the sudden withdrawal of
1 Here I find myself supported by Dr. J. L. Paget (Department of Health, New Zealand), who, referring to abortion, says: "The only influence that the medical profession can bring to bear on the problem, so far as I can see, is the dissemination of the knowledge of the tremendous risks of induced abortion" (B.M.J., October 21, 1933, p. 740).
Dr. Whitehouse says these facts should be known; for they would not only deter the uninformed enthusiasts who now blindly clamour for legalized abortion, but would also certainly make even those women hesitate who are contemplating recourse to criminal abortion.
But what is the actual state of affairs? We know what it is. It reveals, on the one hand, a mass of women who are ignorant of the gravity of an interrupted pregnancy, and, on the other, a body of enthusiasts who, by their coloured accounts of experiences in Russia and of the operation for abortion in skilled hands, lead such women to imagine that because deaths are rare the dangers are almost nil.
(E) It is argued by some of my opponents that surely, in the case of rape, induced abortion should be a legal right. The more sensible among them see the danger in this plea and are inclined to reject it, for they appreciate the abuses to which it would
1 B.M.J., April 20, 1932, pp. 337338.
Acknowledging the able way in which Miss Stella Browne and Mr. Alec Craig reject the plea, at least in so far as it is based on rape, I would add that even if their grounds for rejecting it failed, it would still be permissible to argue that two wrongs cannot make a right. The girl who has been raped, incestuously or otherwise, has obviously been grievously wronged. But do we not do her a further injury if we make her risk her life, or more certainly her health, or as certainly her sexual desires and feelings, by interrupting her pregnancy? Surely the merciful course is to leave her as little damaged as possible, and this can be achieved only by letting her terminate her pregnancy while affording her all the comforts and protection we can.
(F) Dr. Rongy advances seven pleas in favour of legalized abortion. The first, based on illegitimacy, 3 is answered by my reply to (E). When once women learn that an induced abortion under the
1 See, for instance, Stella Browne, S.R.C., p. 180, and Alec Craig, S.R., p. 81.
2 B.M.J., November 26, 1932, p. 969.
3 A.L.I., p. 200.
This does not mean that I recommend the same jubilation over an illegitimate as over a legitimate child. I feel, as the people of most great civilizations have, that the fathers in these cases (and often the mothers too) have displayed a lamentable lack of responsibility and gregarious wisdom. But I do also feel that our attitude to the mother, particularly if young and orphaned or unprotected, is unconscionably harsh. It fails to appreciate (owing to the masculine accent over everything
1 This I pointed out twelve years ago. See my Woman: A Vindication (London, 1923, p. 254).
Another recent innovation which has gratuitously aggravated the plight of the unmarried mother is the absurd law forbidding marriage before sixteen, which was passed under the influence of Feminism and without any protest from orthodox medicine. Thus cases constantly occur of a girl who, becoming pregnant at fifteen, and having a desirable man willing, to marry her, is nevertheless forced to see her lover sent to gaol because he has had sexual relations with a mere "cheeild" 2
"Can you understand," Mr. Justice Swift inquired at Winchester Assizes on February 21, 1931, "why a girl can be old enough to have a baby and cannot be old enough to be married?" And later he added: "Instead of these two young people [a girl of fifteen and a man of twenty-one] being married and their child legitimized, one is sent into the witness-box and the other into the dock, with the obvious result that they will not get married." 3
1 For a discussion of this, see my Choice of a Mate, pp. 3336.
2 For a discussion of the right age of marriage for girls, with overwhelming evidence against the present state of the law in England, see my Choice of a Mate, part iii, chap. ii, and Marriage Hygiene (May 1935), Art. "The Importance to Women of a Youthful Marriage." The Age of Marriage Act which, in Section I (i), provides that "A marriage between persons either of whom is under the age of sixteen shall be void," came into force on May 10, 1929.
3 Daily Press, February 23, 1933.
How much more realistic and humane is the law of France, where a girl, unusually young, who is pregnant may nevertheless be married! A special decree of the French President (to whom appeal in such cases is allowed) sanctioned the marriage of Adrienne Delamarre, a girl of only thirteen, and Alfred Poiteau, only seventeen, on October 9, 1933, the girl's child having been born before she was thirteen. 2
(G) Dr. Rongy's second plea relates to incestuous seduction and rape, to which I have already referred above.
(H) His third plea is based on the case of a woman who is mentally defective. With this view it is more easy to sympathize, and for the following reasons:
(a) Both mother and potential child are human rubbish (provided that the mental defect is primary, 3 i.e. endogenous, and not secondary, i.e. exogenous).
(b) Both are and will continue to be a useless burden on the sound and the healthy who, according
1 News of the World, October 15, 1933.
2 Ibid., October 15, 1933.
3 By primary mental detect is meant that kind which is innate and hereditary; and by secondary mental defect, dial kind which is the result of cranial birth-trauma, of post-natal infections or injuries of the central nervous system, or other environmental causes. It is a distinction usually forgotten, but which should always be made.
(c) Even if the mother is permanently invalided by the abortion, she cannot add to the useless burdens on the sound, because she is such a burden already and will remain so.
(d) If she dies under the operation, it is all the better for the sound and healthy, to whom alone my particular humanitarianism is directed.
(I) Dr. Rongy's fourth plea is based on cases of women deserted by their husbands. But a woman deserted by her husband surely does not deserve unless the desertion was her fault to be punished for her unenviable plight! Both she and her child may be desirable and useful members of the community. Even if, for a while, she become a burden, it may be one society is glad to shoulder, and justified in shouldering. Why risk killing her, or risk more certainly making a permanent invalid of her, or a creature devoid of sexual feeling and incapable of sexual pleasure?
No! If she has been deserted by her husband, all the more reason, if she is also childless, why she should be allowed to have the comfort of the greatest and most enduring attachment this world provides. And if she already have children, her health should be scrupulously safeguarded for them. All these ends can, however, be secured only by allowing her pregnancy to go to term.
(J) Dr. Rongy's fifth plea is based on the case
(K) Dr. Rongy's sixth plea concerns those multiparae who want no more children, in order to preserve health. There is a crude plausibility about this plea which makes it important to examine it with some thoroughness, particularly as the plea of illness through alleged excessive childbearing was so much abused by the birth controllers in order to create emotion and carry unreasoning conviction.
What is excessive child-bearing? According to the birth controllers, any children over two or three. 1 But the sexual life of a woman married at twenty-one is twenty-four years, and if we allow what Dr. Norman Haire, a prominent birth controller, claims as the optimum interval between births, i.e. two to three years, 2 this woman can easily have had eight children when she is forty, without infringing any of the rules laid down by the birth controllers themselves.
Seeing, moreover, that it is essential, if she is to complete her sexual cycle, for her to go through
1 For evidence of this, see N.H., pp. 5253.
2 See Hymen (London, 1927, p. 78).
Are we, then, to call eight children excessive? And are we to say that long before she has eight she should have the right to resort to abortion for purposes of health? No doubt a chorus of modernists could now be found who, without inquiry into any woman's individual conditions, but on the score of pregnancy and parturition being regarded as morbid conditions, would unanimously shout Yes!
And this is where my opponents ruin their case as hopelessly as the birth controllers do. 2 For Dr. Binnie Dunlop blandly suggests that abortion should be legal after two children!
It should be remembered that the public have been so completely corrupted by false doctrine and so much abused by both birth controllers and the advocates of abortion that, in a public gathering to-day, one need only hint that a healthy woman
1 See Dr. Katherine Gamgee ("Some Modern Aspects of Birth Control," Public Health, October 1924, p. 11): "Moreover, the woman who has a child every four or five years is far more apt to suffer both mentally and physically than the woman who has one every two or three years. The agreement of prominent, obstetricians is almost universal on this point, and one's own observations tally with this opinion."
2 Only the strong prejudice in favour of contraceptives could possibly make the public accept the nonsense that is talked even by the more scientific birth controllers. For an exposure of their position, see my N.H.
The fact that she had six is in itself enough to make her health suspect to the ignorant crowd, who trust more to corruptly roused emotion than to common sense on this question.
Hence the ease with which the birth controllers and the advocates of legalized abortion carry their motions. It all seems so plausible when once you have convinced yourself that having children is a disease. 1
That is why Dr. Rongy's plea "in order to preserve health" should be most carefully scrutinized, for this provision, elastic as it is, would certainly lead to universal abuse if it were allowed to pass. When we remember the abuse that is possible and in fact prevails under existing conditions, which allow artificial abortion in order to save a mother's life, one can imagine what would happen if "health" were made the condition; for, as Dr. Leunbach (himself an advocate of abortion) admits surely in an unguarded moment! "Every woman has some
1 If the reader thinks I am misrepresenting facts when I say that the general impression among the public even the scientific public is that having children is a disease, let him consider the pains the more enlightened scientific men have to take in order to make it clear that childbirth is a normal function. See M.O.M. (p. 105); Dr. J. J. Buchan in Lancet, March 23, 1929; and Dr. Kathleen Vaughan, B.M.J., June 24, 1923, etc.
Besides, I have the authority of many medical experts of the highest rank for asserting that, even when so-called health indications seem obvious, and may and are nowadays used for the purpose of justifying artificial abortion, especially among the well-to-do, it would, in a very large number of cases, be ever so much better for the patient to allow the pregnancy to go to term. 2
But if the plea of "health" is often abused under the existing laws, so hostile to induced abortion, how very much more would it not be abused if the law relaxed its hold on so vague a plea?
Thus it would be foolhardy to allow this plea without its present safeguards; nor would the women concerned support it were they fully alive to the
1 S.R.C., p. 135.
2 See Dame Louise McIlroy on T.B. and heart disease (B.M.J., November 26, 1932); Drs. Phil. A. Daly and Solomon Strouse on "The So-called Complications of Pregnancy" (J.A.M.A., May 16, 1931), who show how easy it is to exaggerate the complication and to harm the patient in a number of ailments supposed to be indications for abortion; also Dr. Clarence O. Cheney on "Indications for Therapeutic Abortion from the Standpoint of the Neurologist and the Psychiatrist" (J.A.M.A., December 22, 1934), who shows how exaggerated may be the claims regarding the necessity for abortion in neurologic disorders. See also on T.B., heart disease, and renal disease, articles in the same vein by Drs. F. M. Pottinger, W. W. Herrick, and H. E. B. Pardee. On T.B., see also Dr. E. Bovin, B.M.J., March 31, 1934.
(L) Dr. Rongy's seventh plea relates to the case "where a husband who is already providing for several children suddenly finds himself about to become the father of another child for whom he is unable to provide economically." 1 And, according to Dr. Rongy, "several" here means "three." 2 But why should it ever become justifiable when you have had three children to pay your wife out by (a) mutilating, permanently invaliding, or actually killing her, and/or (b) depriving her thenceforward of the normal expression other sex, and possibly, too, of the very sex feelings and sex-desires on which, as all but Puritans admit, the greater part of life's joys depend?
To reply that the world would soon be stiff with humanity if we gave women an unlimited chance of normal sex-expression is beside the point. Present methods of birth control are sacrificing your women, and legalized abortion will do so even more.
And yet the whole age is opposed to sacrifice of any kind. Sacrifice in war, the sacrifice of the physiologically botched, and the sacrifice of infants is abhorrent to it. Why does this form of sacrifice of women (i.e. only too often normal adults in the prime of life) appear not to offend the age? Simply because both men and women have been so deeply imbued with corrupt doctrine that they refuse to see any other way out, and failing even to appreciate
1 A.L.I., p. 206.
2 Ibid., p. 207.
* * *
(3) Turning now to an all too brief enumeration of the reasons why I oppose the legalization of abortion, I say it should be resisted
(i) Because it is a measure appealing to and calculated to accommodate only the masculinoid female, and when any other more desirable woman urges it she does so in ignorance of what it means and what it involves. Why is the masculinoid woman
1 For suggestions as to the form such sacrifice should take, see my N.H. and Violence, Sacrifice and War (London, 1933).
2 Lancet, July 29, 1933, p. 252.
(ii) Because only Puritans and kill-joys can wish to exploit the panic that has seized upon the womanhood of Western civilization in order, by starting a new fashion or tradition, to deprive the only desirable examples of that womanhood of their full sex expression and experience, to limit it to a paltry few years in the long span of sexual life Nature has given them, and possibly to deprive them of the very capacity to enjoy that sexual life and to feel its thrills and desires. This panic has arisen through the mismanagement of gestation and parturition by our civilization and its science, and through the recruitment to motherhood every year of thousands of degenerate women who have no business to become parous and who therefore give female sex functions a bad name. As, however, this is only a bad phase, which wise measures can and will overcome, it would be insane to alter our institutions
(iii) Because it cannot and will not suppress criminal or surreptitious abortion; but by causing artificial abortion to seem more rational and proper (owing to its new odour of official sanctity) make it much more difficult as they are discovering in Russia to instruct the population as a whole concerning its grave disadvantages and dangers.
(iv) Because the only way to deal with surreptitious and criminal abortion and to put a stop to the agitation for legalized abortion is to attempt what has never yet been attempted in England or France, but which they are now (only too belatedly!) trying in Russia to educate the female population in the elements of the whole problem, so that they may know the gravity and dangers of interrupting a pregnancy. At present the very agitation in favour of legalized abortion leads thousands of ill-informed women (chiefly married, although much is made by my opponents out of the tragically pathetic plight of the unmarried mother) to think that the operation is as simple and safe as a hair-cut. And many of the less scrupulous advocates of legalized abortion must be held responsible for this widespread belief.
Even in the most wildly revolutionary state, however, certain operations for abortion at certain times cannot be legalized. There will always, therefore, be a surreptitious service to meet desperate
(v) Because ton corps n'est pas à toi and never can be à toi, and Victor Margueritte was talking sentimental twaddle. Your body cannot be your own to do as you like with so long as you live with other people in a state of more or less mutual dependence, in which there is a tacit agreement (now ratified by law) that you will support them, and they you, in case of mishap. In such circumstances, when you yourself and everyone else insists in adversity on getting the last ounce of your neighbour's pity, there cannot possibly be a right deliberately to make yourself a permanent burden on the community by gratuitously interfering with a natural process.
(vi) Because, as usual in these agitations, only a misguided minority is demanding this reform. The wiser, sounder, and more normal among the women of the nation are not interested in it.
There is no doubt that, were the measure passed, thousands would avail themselves of the right, as they have done in Russia (very largely for frivolous or so-called "social" reasons). But although apart from the burden they would impose one would not mind the degenerate elements in their thousands invaliding themselves, the danger is that thousands of perfectly sound and desirable women would,
(vii) Because, as Dr. Hamel declares, "if abortion were made legitimate, there would be danger that the number of marriages would decrease, as, in many instances, the unmarried fattier would , urge the unmarried mother to consent to abortion." 1 Cases of this kind are coming to light frequently enough to enable us to infer that the practice would become much more common if it were legalized. It is true that, on the present Russian system of refusing to perform abortions on first pregnancies, the legalization of abortion in this country, if based on the Russian plan, would not include these cases. But there is evidence that some at least of the advocates of legalized abortion would like to include them. 2 On the other hand, we know that over large (tracts of England and Wales i.e. in Norfolk, certain parts of London and the West Country and the Continent, 3 marriage now often takes place only after pregnancy is established.
(viii) Finally, because it will grossly increase the permanent invalidism of the nation, already overburdened with invalidism. At the present moment,
1 J.AM.A., September 21, 1929.
2 S.R., p. 53.
3 Saxony, for instance, according to Dr. Hamel (J.A.M.A., September 21, 1929).
* * *
(a) We should alter our attitude to the question of the right age of marriage for girls, and in this sympathetically consider existing French laws and customs.
1 Professor Blair Bell in Lancet, May 30, 1931.
(c) We should ponder the desirability of subsidizing or endowing indigent motherhood, but only in those cases which give reasonable hope (through the constitution of the parents or of children already borne) that the offspring will be an asset to the nation. A large proportion of the treasure now squandered by the degeneracy-humanitarians on human rubbish might immediately be diverted to this object with advantage, and would lead to a rapid improvement in the nation's stock.
(d) We should leave no stone unturned to reduce the morbidity of childbearing and its present torture-chamber features. Although the latter are grossly exaggerated by rumour, and childbearing is much more often normal and pleasant than is generally supposed, it is important to make it more generally normal. The solution cannot be more anaesthetics. 1 The solution is the normalizing of a natural function that has been allowed to become, in far too many cases, abnormal, and the plain
1 Dr. Kathleen Vaughan (B.M.J., December 24, 1932, p. 1165): "The latest idea chloroform for every mother is no solution; it merely marks our inability to find out what is wrong."