chapter  1
21 Pages

Abortion in the Early Twentieth Century

Abortion is a universally practised but by no means universally approved procedure. 1 The legitimacy of the act varies according to religious and scientific evaluations of foetal life, sexual mores, state population policies, the circumstances of conception, and the status of the woman involved. Society's attitudes to abortion, therefore, reveal anxieties over the family, sexuality, secularism, the birth rate, and shifting gender roles. Legal strictures on abor­ tion which arouse little comment at one time may become the focus of much discontent under different social circumstances.