Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D. (1830-1922)

This website provides information about Dr. Storer including his extensive writings and his efforts starting American Gynecology and the Physicians' Crusade Against Abortion.

John P. Leonard's "Quackery and Abortion," Physicians' Crusade Blueprint?

John Preston Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion:”

Blueprint for Horatio Robinson Storer’s

Crusade Against Abortion?

Frederick N. Dyer

Summary

            In 1857, Horatio Robinson Storer started the “physicians’ crusade against abortion.”  This led to stringent laws against abortion that remained in effect in many states until 1973.  Horatio gave credit “for the thought of the undertaking” to the Introductory Lecture that his father, David Humphreys Storer, presented at the Harvard Medical School in November 1855.  Horatio also credited the Editors of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal who strongly supported David’s condemnation of criminal abortion.  However, a better model than David’s Introductory Lecture for Horatio’s future crusade was an 1851 article, “Quackery and Abortion,” by the Rhode Island physician, John Preston Leonard.  Leonard called on the American Medical Association to strike a “decided blow” against abortionists and called for passage of strict state laws against abortion.  These became the key tactics of Horatio’s crusade.  However, despite “Quackery and Abortion” being a virtual blueprint for his future crusade, Horatio did not mention Leonard or the article in his extensive writing that praised other early antiabortion physicians.  The current article shows that Horatio probably was aware of Leonard and “Quackery and Abortion,” offers two hypotheses to explain why Leonard and his article were ignored; and calls for additional research on Leonard’s probable role in Horatio’s successful crusade.


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John Preston Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion:”

Blueprint for Horatio Robinson Storer’s

Crusade Against Abortion?

Frederick N. Dyer

The “physicians’ crusade against abortion,” as that effort was designated by James C. Mohr, is generally considered to have begun in 1857 by the 27-year-old Boston physician, Horatio Robinson Storer.[1]  In that year, Horatio petitioned the Suffolk District Medical Society and the Massachusetts Medical Society to request the Massachusetts legislature to improve the laws dealing with criminal abortion.  Also in 1857, Horatio convinced the American Medical Association to form a Committee on Criminal Abortion with himself as Chairman.  The Massachusetts initiative had only moderate success, but the American Medical Association effort was highly successful and led to the enactment of stringent laws against abortion in nearly all of the states and territories over the next 20 years.[2]

Horatio’s American Medical Association Report on Criminal Abortion was presented in 1859 at the Annual Meeting of the Association in Louisville.[3]  It concluded with three Resolutions that were unanimously adopted by the members.  These summarized the Report’s major points and goals:

         “Resolved, That while physicians have long been united in condemning the act of producing abortion, at every period of gestation, except as necessary for preserving the life of either mother or child, it has become the duty of this Association, in view of the prevalence and increasing frequency of the crime, publicly to enter an earnest and solemn protest against such unwarrantable destruction of human life.

         “Resolved, That in pursuance of the grand and noble calling we profess, the saving of human lives, and of the sacred responsibilities thereby devolving upon us, the Association present this subject to the attention of the several legislative assemblies of the Union, with the prayer that the laws by which the crime of procuring abortion is attempted to be controlled may be revised, and that such other action may be taken in the premises as they in their wisdom may deem necessary.

         “Resolved, That the Association request the zealous co-operation of the various State Medical Societies in pressing this subject upon the legislatures of their respective States, and that the President and Secretaries of the Association are hereby authorized to carry out, by memorial, these resolutions.” [4]

            The Committee Report was supported by a series of nine articles on abortion by Horatio that appeared throughout 1859 in the North-American Medico-Chirurgical Review and were published as the book, On Criminal Abortion in America.[5]  Horatio wrote a “Memorial” which the American Medical Association sent to the states and territories early in 1860 requesting the attention of their legislatures to the need to improve their abortion statutes.  Horatio’s nine articles were included as an enclosure to this Memorial.  Horatio also wrote the “Address” that was sent to the different state and territorial medical associations requesting their “zealous co-operation” in lobbying for more stringent laws against abortion.[6]

            Horatio added to the physicians’ crusade against abortion with an essay in 1865 that won the Gold Medal in an American Medical Association competition for the “best short and comprehensive tract calculated for circulation among females, and designed to enlighten them upon the criminality and physical evils of forced abortion.”[7]  Horatio published this for the Association as the book, Why Not? A Book for Every Woman, in 1866 and followed it with another popular book, Is It I? A Book for Every Man, a year later.[8]  Why Not? went into four editions and, over the next five decades, physicians claimed the book was an important tool for convincing women patients who requested abortions to continue their pregnancies and for convincing physicians to stand fast against unnecessary abortion.[9]  Horatio in summarizing his antiabortion efforts in 1897 claimed that as a result of his Why Not?, “hundreds of women acknowledged that they were thus induced to permit their pregnancy to accomplish its full period.”[10]

            Horatio’s crusade against abortion included additional articles for physicians in 1863 and 1866.  Horatio also frequently attacked abortion and abortionists in the Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston that he started in 1869 and edited through 1872 when his illness ended the publication.[11]

Other physicians added their voices to the crusade against criminal abortion, including, Augustus Kinsley Gardner, a New York physician originally from Massachusetts and with ties to Horatio’s father, David Humphreys Storer.[12]  Gardner provided a scathing indictment of abortionists and the married women who were seeking abortions in a popular article in 1860.[13]  For the most part, however, the influx of other physician efforts occurred after 1865 and a prime contributor was Samuel Worcester Butler who repeatedly addressed criminal abortion in his editorials in the Medical and Surgical Reporter.[14]

Hundreds of physicians over the next five decades would add their voices to the antiabortion crusade via medical papers, articles, and books.[15]  Although criminal abortions continued, there were many fewer than there would have been without this strong and widespread physician opposition.  The stringent new antiabortion laws these physicians had helped to enact no doubt prevented many women from seriously considering abortion when faced with an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy.  They also prevented physicians from succumbing to the intense pleas of unmarried and married women for abortion and the huge fees sometimes offered for the service.  However, even more important may have been the persuasion of patients to continue pregnancies by individual physicians.  Many physicians would mention successful efforts to convince women to continue pregnancies in their papers and articles and some even described the children that survived unwanted pregnancies because of their efforts.[16]

Horatio once wrote: “Every life lost is not an isolated one; every life saved is, as a general rule, the precursor of others that else would not have been called into existence.”[17]  He was discussing the need to reduce dangerous pollution at the Revere Copper Company, but he must have recognized that even more lives were being saved by preventing abortions and that the “others” subsequently “called into existence” increased exponentially in succeeding generations.  Almost every North American reader of these words can credit the “physicians’ crusade against abortion” for one or more of his or her ancestors.[18]

           Horatio repeatedly credited two factors “for the thought of the undertaking,” i.e., for the thought of starting his campaign against criminal abortion.[19]  One was the Introductory Lecture that his father, David Humphreys Storer, gave at the commencement of the medical term at the Harvard Medical School in November 1855.  The title of this lecture to the Harvard medical students and Boston physicians was “Duties, Trials and Rewards of the Student of Midwifery” and these were the major subjects addressed.  However, a final section condemned criminal abortion, described its bad effects on women’s health, and implored physicians to use reason and moral suasion to reduce the crime.[20]  When the Lecture was published as a separate pamphlet a few weeks later, this final section was omitted.[21]  The editors of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, William W. Morland and Francis Minot, praised the Introductory Lecture and strongly protested the failure to publish the portion dealing with criminal abortion.  Their December 13, 1855 editorial included:

We referred to the fact that the fair proportions of this Address have been essentially diminished by an omission of certain portions.  While we confess the truth of the adage that “half a loaf is better than no bread,” we particularly dislike all processes which abstract the leaven from any compound.  Deferring to the judgment of others, whose opinions we all delight to honor, Professor Storer has omitted the very paragraphs, which, in our judgment, should have been allowed to go forth as freely as they were spoken.  To whom shall the community look for a verdict upon practices which disgrace our land and prevail to an extent that would hardly be credited, if not to physiciansand, chiefest among them, to medical teachers?  For ourselves, we have no fear that the truth, as told by the writer of this Address, in reference to the crime of procuring abortion and the scarcely less heinous offence of preventing impregnation, would do aught but good in this, or in any, city.  It would appear that sheer ignorance, in many honest people, is the spring of much of the horrible intra-uterine murder which exists among us; why not, then, enlighten this ignorance?  It would be far more effectually done by some bold and manly appeal like that to which we allude, than by the private and scattered influence of honorable practitioners alone.  In this case we will guarantee that vice would be all the more “hated” the more it was revealed, and would be neither “pitied” nor “embraced.”  The alarming extent of these evil practices is admitted; why attempt to conceal them any longer?  Will not the mischief bye and bye be all the more deadly for delaying exposure and attempting relief? [22]

             This strong approval of David Humphreys Storer’s discussion of abortion and criticism of its suppression by the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal editors was the second factor that Horatio credited “for the thought of the undertaking.”  However, one can assume that the opposition to publication of the antiabortion portion of the Introductory Lecture from “others, whose opinions we all delight to honor” was a third factor that led Horatio to undertake the physicians' crusade against abortion.  This opposition not only suppressed the abortion portion of the Lecture when it was published, it ended David Humphreys Storer’s antiabortion efforts and opened the door for Horatio to take over.  It also surely was a motivating factor.  Horatio would refer to David’s capitulation as one of the few times his father was to “show the white feather.”[23]  Horatio, no doubt, was angry at Henry J. Bigelow, the Professor of Surgery, who apparently was the faculty member primarily responsible for suppression of the abortion portion of David’s Introductory Lecture.[24]  In later years, there was a bitter feud between Horatio and Bigelow and this may have had its origins at the time of his father’s Introductory Lecture.[25]  Horatio, himself, would publish the suppressed portion of his father’s Lecture in 1872 in his Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston.[26]

Although cited by Horatio as a stimulus for his future crusade, David Humphreys Storer’s Introductory Lecture actually was not an accurate model for Horatio’s future crusade against abortion.  David had little faith in legislation as a means to curtail abortion:

The laws of the land, with all their penalties annexed, can do but little to abolish the crime.  Compulsory measures may meet individual cases, and cause a temporary respite in a limited circle, but in order to produce an effect co-extensive with the transgression, that course should be pursued, the lenity of which proves its sincerity.  Reason should be dealt with; moral suasion should be used, and no one can exert a greater influence than the physician; for no one is compelled like him to witness the misery, to see the distress which is acknowledged by the sufferer to have been thus produced, to hear the disclosures as they reluctantly fall from the lips of the dying penitent.  We can do much—we can do all. If our profession will feel and act as one man; if they cannot all regard the subject in the same light as I have, as respects its morality, but will look at it merely as a cause of physical suffering to the mother; if they will upon all proper occasions freely express their convictions of its injurious effects, of its present danger, of its detrimental consequences,—a triumphant result must follow.[27]

Changing “[t]he laws of the land” became the major thrust of Horatio’s efforts both in Massachusetts and nationally with the American Medical Association.  One concern of Horatio was that the laws against abortion ignored the real victim, the unborn child, and treated the woman as the victim, despite the fact that in virtually all cases she requested the abortion.  Another was that many state statutes provided more punishment for abortion after “quickening” than at early stages of the pregnancy and some did not consider early abortions a crime at all.[28]

David Humphreys Storer also did not propose involvement of the American Medical Association in the effort against criminal abortion, despite the fact that he had been one of the Association’s early members.  Horatio would seek the assistance of the American Medical Association at the outset of his campaign in 1857.[29]  On the other hand, David Humphreys Storer did stress two key aspects of Horatio’s later crusade in his Introductory Lecture.  One was pointing out the deleterious health consequences for women who underwent induced abortions and using this information as a means for persuading women to have their babies.  Another was condemnation of those seeking and those providing abortions.

While David Humphreys Storer’s Introductory Lecture was an incomplete model for his son’s future crusade, nearly all of Horatio’s later strategies and tactics were outlined in an antiabortion paper, “Quackery and Abortion,” written five years before David’s Introductory Lecture in December 1850 and published a month later in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.[30]  The author was the 31-year-old Rhode Island physician, John Preston Leonard.  Leonard had been practicing in Rhode Island since at least 1844 when he became a member of the Rhode Island Medical Society.[31]  His early medical credentials were obtained by practicing with established physicians, but he obtained two medical degrees after beginning practice, one from the Berkshire Medical Institution in 1846 and another from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the City of New York in 1848.[32]  Leonard was interested in medical science as well as medical practice and he commenced publication of medical journal articles in 1847.  These were published in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal and dealt with a variety of topics.[33]  In 1849, Leonard traveled to California where he observed the practice of medicine and briefly practiced himself.  He provided a pair of letters describing climate, health conditions, medicine, and medical practice in California and one letter from Panama while en route that also were published in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.[34]  He was back in Greenville, Rhode Island by May 1850 when he sent an article on diarrhea to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.[35]

Nothing in Leonard’s publication history would have predicted “Quackery and Abortion,” except perhaps his stated determination to “advance my own opinions as boldly and fearlessly as if I knew that they would be confirmed by the whole medical world, and that nobody would have the hardihood to call me in question.”  This was from his June 1848 paper, “On Epidemic Influence.”[36]  “Quackery and Abortion” began with a discussion of the relative places of the different professions in history and with the prediction that the medical profession would come to outshine law and theology that had been predominant in the past.  He claimed there had been huge progress of medicine in the “last half century” and that this was “nowhere more marked than in the United States.”  He discussed improvements in medical education and medical societies and particularly praised the American Medical Association for its contributions to both medical science and medical ethics.  He gave the following description of the Association’s objectives:

The American Medical Association is annually adding rich and ripe sheaves to the great store-house of science; these are constantly taking the place of tares, which have hitherto occupied too much space.  This Association has not only for its object the expurging of worthless material and the supplying of sound doctrines, but it also aims at the establishment of good regulations and ethics, with a view that justice, honorable conduct, and moral integrity, shall govern and preserve the medical men of this country (thus indirectly but really benefiting the sick and all others throughout the land), and if possible, eradicate every vestige of quackery with which our country has been scourged.[37]

             This led directly to abortionists:

While the Association, through its committees, has made excellent suggestions, pointed out valuable improvements, and discountenanced quackery in most of its forms and devices, it has not yet struck any decided blow on that most diabolical kind of quackery, that high-handed villany [sic], which characterizes the abortionist.  That this kind of charlatanism is rife, and is practised by regular members of the profession, that is, men who have diplomas, there can be no doubt; and I believe that some who are promoted to office in our medical societies are of this order of quacks.  That such men are quacks, no one will question¾the epithet belongs to the unprincipled as well as the ignorant. [38]

Leonard thus became the first physician to publicly request the American Medical Association to strike a “decided blow” against criminal abortion.  It would be six years before Horatio Storer would make a similar request.

When Leonard indicated his belief that “some who are promoted to office in our medical societies are of this order of quacks,” he may have been referring to his Rhode Island Medical Society or to other societies in Rhode Island.  However, the fact that he sent his letter to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal suggests that he was implicating officers of some Massachusetts societies, perhaps even the Massachusetts Medical Society.  Twenty years later, Horatio would tell the members of the Gynaecological Society of Boston how “many years ago” he had called on the Massachusetts Medical Society “to cease its notorious harborage of habitual abortionists” and had been frustrated “by the allegation that to do so would be but to ‘stir a dunghill.’”[39]  This actually was a major change for Horatio who earlier had all but denied that regular physicians were abortionists.[40]  However, it supports the hypothesis that Massachusetts societies, including the Massachusetts Medical Society, were on Leonard’s mind in December 1850 when he stated his belief that some of the society officers were abortionists.

It may that some young practitioners in Leonard’s area were performing abortions and this was the stimulus for his article, since Leonard next moved to warning the new young practitioner to “abstain from the infernal performance under every circumstance.”  He described the “dangerous situation” faced by the new physician without a medical practice.  He is a likely candidate for requests for illegal abortion, “especially if thought to be in need of money.”  Leonard cautioned such new physicians to treat these offers with disdain.  “[I]f they fall here, just as they are to be introduced into legitimate practice,” Leonard wrote, “they fall forever; their sins will surely find them out.”[41]  He then indicated another reason for the new physician to not succumb to the request for abortion.  The abortionist could not hide his activities:

 

It is said that a woman cannot keep a secret.  Whether this is so or not, the man who procures abortions is generally well known.  He needs no hand-bills, placards, or other advertisement; he is soon notorious.  Inglorious fame!  Who would have such a disgraceful notoriety?  Who would thus disgrace his profession; who would sell his claim to honor and principle; who would shed innocent blood for a few pieces of silver?  After a man has thus degraded himself, after he has sunk so low, can he expect to retrieve his character?  Who ever knew such a man to reform?  If he is susceptible to feelings of remorse, like Judas he will go out and hang himself to hide his own shame. [42]

           David Humphreys Storer would echo this warning to the new physician in a March 7, 1855 address to the graduating medical students at the Harvard Medical School.  David did this without actually mentioning abortion.  He spoke:

The young physician is not unfrequently called upon by the dissolute and unprincipled to screen them from merited punishment.  He is not yet known.  Except among his immediate friends, he has established no decided character.  Or perhaps he is supposed to be destitute, and even suffering; and that, under such circumstances, his services can be easily procured.  Strong indeed is the temptation.  He whose advice is asked is perhaps deeply embarrassed; for his education, even, he is indebted: he knows not how he shall subsist from week to week; he is compelled to deny himself daily almost the necessities of life.  Alone, depressed, wretched, he receives a request for professional advice, accompanied with a remuneration, which to him is immense, which will relieve his necessities for months.  This service he can render; and, with it, his employer alone need be conversant.  This may be your position, as it has been that of others.  Hesitate not a moment; allow not the struggle to commence, even, between your destitution and your conscience.  As yet, you have committed no crime.  You are penniless, you feel perhaps friendless; but you are still yourselves.  Return the gold to the tempter, untouched; and thus teach him that your integrity is priceless.  However frequently such demands may subsequently be made, the remembrance of the joyous satisfaction with which you indignantly repelled the first advance will prompt you, without a moment’s delay, to pursue a similar course.[43]

David’s unwillingness to mention the A-word strikingly illustrates Leonard’s boldness in his frank discussion of abortion and abortionists four years earlier in “Quackery and Abortion.”

Leonard briefly touched on the high prevalence of criminal abortion, including a reference to a July 1850 editorial in the New York Medical Gazette that pointed out the sharp increase over the decades in the ratio of stillborn children to the population in New York City.[44]  Leonard indicated that these evils existed “even in the puritan borders of New England.”  He also discussed the “fearfully manifest” physical evils resulting from criminal abortion and indicated it had broken down the constitutions of women.[45]

Leonard discussed cases of criminal abortion that he had attended:

I shall not stop to give the history of these lamentable cases which have come under my observation, and terminated fatally as the consequence of procured abortion¾those fatal cases of puerperal peritonitis, caused by the bloody hands of doctors and M.D.’s; but if the confessions of the dying are to be relied upon, I know men who have carried on this shameful and iniquitous business, and have not only been the murderers of infants, but the instruments also of consigning their guilty mothers to premature graves, “unhouselled, unanointed, unannealed.” … I once found a wire … in the vagina of a young girl who had been in the hands of a regular abortionist.  At each extremity of the wire was a leaden ball, … one end of which had probably been introduced into the os uteri, and there left to remain till contractions of that organ should be established.  For the information of the villain who was guilty of this double massacre (should his eye fall upon this page), I will state that the operation succeeded—succeeded in destroying a foetus of five months, and in impairing the health of the girl so that she continued to suffer from uterine disorder, and finally died in about three years afterwards. [46]

Leonard then returned to his castigation of physician abortionists in general.

I consider this species of quackery the most abominable and wicked of all.  Anything is charlatanism which is morally dishonest, though it may be practised under cover of a diploma; and therefore that man is a charlatan, to all intents and purposes, who, like the notorious Restell, becomes the executioner of babes in utero.  Such a man is the vilest of quacks, and the meanest of men. [47]

             Unlike almost all physicians who wrote or would write about criminal abortion in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Leonard did not specifically discuss the nature of the unborn child from its earliest existence at conception.  However, he called the abortionist an “executioner of babes in utero,”[48] and defined “the crime of procuring abortions,” as “the massacre of infants,”[49] and these leave little doubt that he also considered the inhabitant of the womb to have most if not all of the entitlements of a born child.

           Leonard placed surprisingly little emphasis on the woman’s crime.  Even when she induced her own abortion, he saw this as the fault of “some unprincipled doctor, who either purposely or accidentally let slip the secret to the vulgar.”[50]  What is more, he indicated that in no case should patients be exposed who had undergone abortions.  “This would be a breach of confidence—a violation of good faith;” he continued, “a principle which physicians have held inviolable both in ancient and modern times.”[51]  However, he had little use for those who employed the physician abortionists, noting: “they are in truth nothing better than accessories, and without their aid and support this class of practitioners could not live.”[52]

             Leonard indicated that he would “leave it to others to prescribe the method and manner” for “checking and rebuking these quacks in their criminal progress.”  He then suggested “as a starting point towards reform” that medical societies “expel these ‘assasinators,’ and that each physician take the responsibility of informing against them whenever opportunity may offer.”  He continued:

For one I am willing to join such a crusade, however, unpleasant the war may be, and do all that I can in the way sequari vestigia rerum.  The medical profession is bound to take action in this matter; if it is not done, if proper measures are not resorted to, injustice and disgrace will be charged upon us for affording protection and fellowship to these charlatans.  This evil is not confined to any particular region or section of country; it has at length become general, and is a national curse. [53]

            Unlike David Humphreys Storer five years later, Leonard had no doubts about the efficacy of legislation to control the crime.  He called for making “the offence of inducing premature labor or abortion a penal one; … it should be a State-prison offence, at least.”[54] 

            Leonard concluded:

The evil is one of such magnitude that I have felt it my duty to make this communication.  If by it any one shall be persuaded from falling into criminal quackery, certainly good will come out of it.  Or if those who make laws and regulations for medical men shall be induced to render the crime punishable, and this action be taken any sooner because the medical public have thus had their attention directed to the subject, I shall have no cause to regret that I have incurred the displeasure of those practitioners who have been styled abortionists, or that I have made the admission, through the medium of your Journal, that there is criminal quackery in the medical ranks. [55]

One might have suspected that Leonard’s charges of “criminal quackery in the medical ranks” would have produced some denials in subsequent numbers of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.  His willingness to frankly discuss the taboo topic of criminal abortion itself might have been expected to produce objections.  Another likely criticism of Leonard would have been his identification of the instruments used by irregular quacks (“sharpened sticks, goose-quills, wires, &c.”) and by regular quacks (“beautifully-polished, tonsil-lancet instruments”).  Some years later, in an article in the same Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Walter Channing was unwilling to describe some instruments that his patients had used to abort themselves, but did mention a wire that a woman had permanently embedded at an internal location, “as it was believed, it would not be likely to be imitated.”[56]  However, no mention of “Quackery and Abortion” or of Leonard was found in subsequent numbers of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal until two mentions of his untimely death in the issue of 9 July 1851.[57]

We mentioned the two factors that Horatio indicated led him to initiate the physicians’ crusade against abortion, the abortion segment of his father’s November 1855 Introductory Lecture and the praise of this by the Editors of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in December 1855.  Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion” was not mentioned, but, as will be discussed, it is probable that Horatio was aware of Leonard and his article.  In his series of abortion articles, Horatio also made mention of other antiabortion physician pioneers like Hugh Lenox Hodge who provided an antiabortion lecture to his medical students in 1839 and repeated it in 1854 with the lecture published on both dates (as well as later).[58]  However, Horatio studiously avoided mention of one pioneer antiabortion physician, Gunning S. Bedford, Professor of Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and Children at the University of New York, despite being aware that Bedford had bravely raised the issue of criminal abortion in New York and had strongly condemned the notorious abortionist, Madame Restell.  Horatio’s omission may have been because of Bedford’s Catholic religion.  He may have worried that the crusade against abortion he was starting would be perceived as a Roman Catholic effort.  Another possibility is that there was lingering antagonism to Bedford by staunch American Medical Association members like Horatio and his father because Bedford claimed (vainly) that participants in the 1846 organizational meeting of the American Medical Association were not sufficiently representative of the United States.[59]

Horatio surely was aware of Bedford since Horatio made reference in his series of articles to data from the July 1850 editorial in the New York Medical Gazette that pointed out the sharp increase over the decades in the ratio of stillborn children to population in New York City.[60]  In addition to the data showing the increasing rate of criminal abortion, the Editor of the Gazette, David Meredith Reese, provided effusive praise of Gunning S. Bedford, who, in contrast to most physicians, was willing to identify and condemn abortionists.  Bedford also had been referred to in a Boston Medical and Surgical Journal editorial in 1844 that might have come to Horatio’s attention.[61]

Leonard or his “Quackery and Abortion” also did not receive any mention by Horatio and one suspects that this was another conscious omission.  In January 1851, when “Quackery and Abortion” was published, Horatio was a first-year student at the Harvard Medical School and his father was a professor at the Tremont Street Medical School that provided instruction during the long periods when the Harvard Medical School was not in session.  In May 1850, David Humphreys Storer was chosen to present the Annual Address to the Massachusetts Medical Society the following May.  It is not clear when David Humphreys Storer selected the topic, “Medical Jurisprudence,” but probably by November 1850 when Horatio was discussing medical jurisprudence with his friend, Hermann Jackson Warner.[62]  Horatio’s interest in medical jurisprudence suggests that he had some role in preparing his father’s address or at least discussed it with his father.

Criminal abortion was a subject discussed in most medical jurisprudence texts.  This subtopic of medical jurisprudence must have been considered for discussion in David Humphreys Storer’s upcoming address and Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion” would thus have been of even more than usual interest to both Storers who probably read the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal from cover to cover when it appeared each week.  As it turned out, David Humphreys Storer’s published address barely hinted at the topic of criminal abortion.  He mentioned the connection of medical jurisprudence to midwifery in an introductory paragraph and this certainly would have augured for a later discussion of criminal abortion, but no further reference to midwifery appeared.[63]  We have noted that in March 1855 David Humphreys Storer would not mention abortion by name, and in 1851 there would have been a similar reluctance to raise the taboo topic.[64]  David also may have felt that Massachusetts’ physicians already had had an overdose of criminal abortion four months earlier from Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion.”

There are additional reasons for suspecting that Leonard was known to the Storers.  As mentioned, Leonard’s papers had appeared in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal since 1847.  Leonard’s July 1851 obituary in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal described him as “well known to the medical profession of the United States, of which he was a worthy member, by numerous and valuable contributions to science.” [65]  The California papers would have been of special interest, but all of Leonard’s articles would have been of high interest to the Storers who were strongly committed to medical science.

The obituary made special reference to the California articles describing them as “not only new, but of a reliable character, and were extensively read and prized.”[66]  Horatio had recently written a dissertation that included references to California.[67]  What is more, in other earlier and later ways Horatio indicated his infatuation with the western regions.[68]  We can be fairly certain that Horatio “extensively read and prized” the California papers and it is not hard to imagine that Horatio made input to, or even wrote, these obituary words for the “local” journal, whose editor, Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith, was an amateur ichthyologist like Horatio and Horatio’s father.[69]

One suspects that Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion” was not only known to the Storers, but that Leonard was at least an acquaintance.  Greenville, Rhode Island was located only a few miles from Massachusetts.  We know that Leonard visited Boston since he contracted the typhus that killed him while examining emigrants aboard a boat that docked at Boston.[70]  That visit occurred after Leonard had moved to Middletown, Connecticut.  He probably visited Boston frequently when he lived in Greenville.  Horatio wrote diaries that covered the periods from September 1847 to 19 January 1849 and from 2 September 1850 to 9 June 1851.[71]  They do not mention Leonard.  However, Horatio’s friend, Hermann Jackson Warner, wrote in his diary for 25 January 1851: “[Storer] Talks of his invitations to Newport, Baltimore.”[72]  Newport or Baltimore also were not mentioned in Horatio’s diary, but the Newport, Rhode Island visit, if it took place, might have included discussions with Leonard.

One might expect that the gregarious Horatio would have visited Leonard for first-hand accounts of California.  If he did, such a visit probably would have occurred during 1850 shortly after Leonard returned to Rhode Island and when Horatio was not maintaining a diary, or if he were keeping a diary, it was not included with the other diaries that were preserved by Horatio’s descendants.

Given all of these reasons to expect that Horatio was aware of “Quackery and Abortion” and of its author, why would Horatio fail to give credit to an article that was the first call for American Medical Association efforts against abortion and among the first, if not the first, to call for changes in abortion laws throughout the States?  One possibility is that Leonard may have upset Boston medical men, including the Storers, by claiming that “there is criminal quackery in the medical ranks,” and that “some who are promoted to office in our medical societies” were abortionists.  Both Storers would castigate another Boston physician, Charles E. Buckingham, who, in 1857, appeared to claim that the medical profession shared the belief of much of the public that abortion was not a crime.[73]  The obituary of Leonard that appeared in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal was positive, but it may be significant that that obituary did not make any reference to Leonard’s most recent contribution, “Quackery and Abortion.”

Horatio would deny that regular physicians were abortionists in his series of 1859 articles.[74]  Twenty years later (June 1870), Horatio did not hesitate to make such claims.  As earlier noted, he “reminded” members of the Gynaecological Society of Boston that “many years ago” he had called on the Massachusetts Medical Society “to cease its notorious harborage of habitual abortionists.”[75]  It is possible that Leonard’s charges in 1851 had caused such anger and turmoil in Boston and elsewhere that Horatio in 1859 avoided making similar charges, even though such charges would have been justified.  To do so might have made members of the Suffolk District Medical Society, Massachusetts Medical Society, and American Medical Association less willing to approve Horatio’s Reports and Resolutions.  He might have feared that even a reference to Leonard’s article would be viewed as repeating the charge of “criminal quackery in the medical ranks.

Horatio also may have been so anxious to give credit to his father “for the thought of the undertaking” that he ignored Leonard who was not around to object.  Throughout his life, Horatio made tributes to his father.  He named a new species of fish after his father in 1850 and devoted his collection of medical medals to the Boston Medical Library in memory of his father in 1900.[76]  In Horatio’s 1865 prize essay, David Humphreys Storer was described as the man “who, in New England, first appreciated the frequency of criminal abortions, pointed out their true character, and denounced them.”[77]  Leonard was from New England and in fact referred to himself as “a true Yankee myself” in “Quackery and Abortion.”[78]  Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion” certainly shows that it was John Preston Leonard, not David Humphreys Storer, “who, in New England, first appreciated the frequency of criminal abortions, pointed out their true character, and denounced them.”

Should subsequent research show that Horatio and John Preston Leonard were well acquainted it might justify another interpretation of the omission of “Quackery and Abortion.”  There is evidence that Horatio may have been concerned about criminal abortion as early as May 1850 when he invited his scientist friend, Charles Frederic Girard, to speak at the Harvard Natural History Society.  Hermann Jackson Warner wrote in his diary: “lecture from Girard—thinks that the study of the embryo is to work great revolutions in practical medicine.”[79]  A likely interpretation of this is that increased knowledge about the human embryo would eventually end the routine physician treatment of missed menstrual periods.  These treatments frequently destroyed embryos in women who concealed from the physician the pregnancy basis of their “stoppage.”  Horatio was President of the Harvard Natural History Society and probably recommended this topic to Girard.  In his later articles and editorials, Horatio would repeatedly condemn the frequent physician treatment of “amenorrhoea” that was really an early pregnancy.[80]  He may have already been concerned about this problem in 1850.

If John Preston Leonard and Horatio Robinson Storer were acquainted and if Horatio already was strongly concerned about the problem of criminal abortion, he probably discussed criminal abortion with Leonard, even as he discussed medical jurisprudence at that time with his law-student friend, Hermann Jackson Warner.  It may not be too preposterous to suggest that Horatio may have influenced Leonard to write what turned out to be the near blueprint for Horatio’s future efforts.  If Horatio viewed Leonard’s article as more-or-less his own, he may have believed giving the credit for his undertaking to his father’s Introductory Lecture instead of to “Quackery and Abortion” was the modest thing to do.

Hopefully, early journals, letters, or other manuscripts pertaining to Leonard or additional Horatio Storer manuscripts exist and can eventually be located.  These might provide hard evidence of the likely link between Horatio and Leonard.  Perhaps they would even show that “Quackery and Abortion” can be considered Horatio’s first contribution to the “physicians’ crusade against abortion.”


 

John Preston Leonard’s “Quackery and Abortion:”

Blueprint for Horatio Robinson Storer’s

Crusade Against Abortion?

Frederick N. Dyer

NOTES

1. J.C. Mohr, Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800-1900 (New York, Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 145-170.

2. These efforts are more fully discussed in F.N. Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D. (Canton, Massachusetts, Science History Publications/USA, 1999), pp. 100-132, 137-163.

3. “Report on Criminal Abortion,” Trans. Am. Med. Assoc., 1859, 12, 75-78.

4. Ibid., pp. 77-78.

5. H.R. Storer, “Contributions to Obstetric Jurisprudence: No. I.—Criminal Abortion,” North-American Medico-Chirurgical Review 1859, 3, 64-72; “II: Its Frequency, and the Causes Thereof,” 1859, 3, 260-282.; “III: Its Victims,” 1859, 3, 446-455; “IV: Its Proofs,” 1859, 3, 455-465; “V: Its Perpetrators,” 1859, 3, 465-470; “VI: Its Innocent Abettors,” 1859, 3, 643-657; “VII: Its Obstacles to Conviction,” 1859, 3, 833-854; “VIII: Can It be at all Controlled by Law?” 1859, 3, 1033-1038; “IX: The Duty of the Profession,” 1859, 3, 1039-1046; H.R. Storer, On Criminal Abortion in America (Philadelphia, Lippincott & Co., 1860).

6. The bulk of the “Memorial” and the complete “Address” are included in Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp. 161-162.  The Indiana State Archives has a copy of the “Memorial” sent to them sometime in 1860.

7. “Minutes, 1864 Annual Meeting,” Trans. Am. Med. Assoc., 1864, 15, 1-53, p. 50; H.R. Storer, “The Criminality and Physical Evils of Forced Abortions,” Trans. Am. Med. Assoc., 1865, 16, 709-745.

8. H.R. Storer, Why Not? A Book for Every Woman (Boston, Lee and Shepard, 1866); H.R. Storer, Is It I? A Book for Every Man (Boston, Lee and Shepard, 1867).

9. G.E. Smith, “Foeticide,” Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy, 1875, 10, 211-213; A.B. Tadlock, “Abortion—Its Entailments,” in the Medical and Surgical Reporter 1878, 38, 321-324; and see discussion by Henry D. Holton of H.W. Cattell, “Some Medico-Legal Aspects of Abortion,” Bull. Am. Acad. Med., 1907, 8, 334-352, p. 347.

10. H.R. Storer, “Criminal Abortion: Its Prevalence, Its Prevention, and Its Relation to the Medical Examiner ...,” Microfiche #AN 0320 in the Adelaide Nutting Historical Nursing Microfilm Collection which is a microfiche of an offprint of the article in Atlantic Medical Weekly 1897, 209-218.  Offprint page numbers 1-34, pp. 12-13.

11. H.R. Storer, “Studies of Abortion,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1863, 68, 15-20; H.R. Storer, “The Abetment of Criminal Abortion by Medical Men,” New York Med. J., 1866, 3, 422-433.  A key example in the Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston is “Proceedings, June 21, 1870 Meeting of the Gynaecological Society of Boston,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1870, 3, 357-373, pp. 369-373.

12. “Gardner, Augustus Kinsley,” In H.A. Kelly and W.L. Burrage, Dictionary of American Medical Biography (New York, Appleton, 1928), p. 452.

13. A.K. Gardner, “Physical Decline of American Women,” Knickerbocker, 1960, 55, 37-52, pp. 46-49.

14. “Abortionists,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1863, 10, 434; “Criminal Abortion,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1865, 13, 306; “A Social Evil¾Infantiphobia,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1866, 14, 114; “Infantiphobia and Infanticide,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1866, 14, 212-213.

15. Several dozen of these are mentioned in Mohr, Abortion in America.  Dozens more are discussed in a book in preparation, F.N. Dyer, The Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion.  Of the hundreds, all but two or three strongly condemned induced abortion unless it was necessary to save the life of the mother.

16. See for example, M.A. Dixon-Jones, “Criminal Abortion, Its Evils and Its Sad Consequences,” Med. Rec., 1894, 46, 9-16, pp. 12-13.

17. “Editorial Notes,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1869, 1, 185.

18. If only the single generation when Horatio Storer was active showed an increase in surviving pregnancies as a result of the physicians’ crusade amounting to three percent of children, this would provide a parent (or two) for 5.9 percent of the next generation, at least one grandparent for 11.5 percent of the second generation, at least one great-grandparent for 21.6 percent of the third generation, at least one great-great-grandparent for 38.5 percent of the fourth generation, etc.  What is more, the additional survivors of pregnancy were not limited to a single generation.

19. H.R. Storer and F.F. Heard, Criminal Abortion: Its Nature, Its, Evidence, and Its Laws (Boston, Little, Brown, and Company, 1868), footnote p. 2.

20. D.H. Storer, "Two Frequent Causes of Uterine Disease," J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1872, 6, 194-203.

21. D.H. Storer, An Introductory Lecture before the Medical Class of 1855-56 of Harvard University (Boston, David Clapp Printer, 1855).

22. “An Introductory Lecture before ...,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1855, 53, 409-411, pp. 410-411.

23. F.N. Dyer, “Autobiographical Letter from Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., to His Son, Malcolm Storer, M.D., Discussing the History of Gynaecological Teaching,: J. Hist. Med., 1999,  54, 439-458, p. 445.

24. “Editorial Notes,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1872, 6, 393-400, p. 394.

25. One consequence of this feud is discussed in Dyer, “Autobiographical Letter from Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., to His Son, Malcolm Storer, M.D.,” p. 453.  Bigelow was frequently castigated in the “Editorial Notes” of the Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston.  See. Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp. 329-351.

26. Storer, Two Frequent Causes of Uterine Disease.”

27. Ibid., pp. 200-201.

28. Storer, “Contributions to Obstetric Jurisprudence: No. I.—Criminal Abortion,” p. 67.

29. Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp. 121-122.

30. J.P. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1851, 43, 477-481.

31. Rhode Island Medical Society Records.  Rhode Island Historical Society.

32. Personal communication: Stephen E. Novak, Head, Archives & Special Collections, A.C. Long Health Sciences Library, Columbia University.

33. J.P. Leonard, “The Cases of Fever Lately Observed in Cumberland, R.I.” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1847, 37,  89-96; J.P. Leonard, “Case of Cyanosis, or Blue Skin,”Boston Med. Surg. J., 1848, 38, 363-365., J.P. Leonard, “On Epidemic Influence,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1848, 38, 431-441; 461-464; 475-478. 

34. J.P. Leonard, “Medical Matters at Panama—Letter from Dr. Leonard,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1849, 40, 455-458; J.P. Leonard, “Letter from California—Climate and Diseases of the Country—Gold Digging—The Colera,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1849, 41, 52-55; J.P. Leonard, “Letter from California,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1849, 41, 394-399.

35. J.P. Leonard, “On the Different Varieties of Diarrhoea,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1850, 42, 304-309; 341-346; 401-407; 425-431.

36. Leonard, “On Epidemic Influence,” p. 433.

37. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” p. 478.

38. Ibid.

39. “Proceedings, June 21, 1870 Meeting of the Gynaecological Society of Boston,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1870, 3, 357-373, 369.

40. Storer, “V. Its Perpetrators,” p. 469.

41. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” pp. 478-479.

42. Ibid., p. 479.

43. D.H. Storer, Address Delivered at the First Medical Commencement of the Massachusetts Medical College, (John Wilson and Son, Boston, 1855), 12-13.

44. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion, “ p.479; “Criminal Abortionism in New York,” New York Medical Gazette, 1850, 1, 6.

45. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” p. 479.

46. Ibid., pp. 479-480.

47. Ibid. p. 479.

48. Ibid.

49. Ibid. p. 480.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. Ibid., p. 481.

53. Ibid.

54. Ibid.

55. Ibid.

56. Walter Channing, “Effects of Criminal Abortion,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1859, 60, 134-142, p. 140.

57. “Death of Dr. John P. Leonard,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1851, 44, 464-465; “Died,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1851, 44, 467.

58. H.L. Hodge, An Introductory Lecture to the Course on Obstetrics, and Diseases of Women and Children: University of Pennsylvania, November 6, 1839 (Philadelphia: Lydia R. Bailey, 1839); On Criminal Abortion; A Lecture Introductory to the Course on Obstetrics, and Diseases Of Women and Children, University of Pennsylvania, Session 1854-5 (Philadelphia, T.K. and P.G. Collins, 1854).  There were further editions in 1869, 1872, and 1876.

59. Morris Fishbein, History of the American Medical Association, 1847 to 1947 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1947), pp. 24-25.

60. “Criminal Abortionism in New York,” p. 6.  In Storer’s 1859 article, “Its Frequency, and the Causes Thereof,” p. 267, Horatio actually made reference to the 1849 Annual Report of the City Inspector that Reese had quoted from and not to Reese’s editorial.  However, Horatio corrected a ratio that appeared incorrect in Reese’s editorial because Reese had incorrectly copied one of the numbers in the ratio.  This showed that Horatio had actually copied data from Reese’s Gazette editorial, “Criminal Abortionism in New York,” and not the original 1849 Report.  It may be significant for possible Storer-Leonard interactions that this was the same Gazette article that Leonard referred to in “Quackery and Abortion.”

61. “Criminal Abortions,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1844, 30, 302-303, p. 302.

62. H.J. Warner, “Diary,” v. 11, 11 November 1850, Massachusetts Historical Society.

63. D.H. Storer, An Address on Medical Jurisprudence (Boston, J. Wilson & Son, 1851), p. 3.

64. When Horatio was absent from Boston in March 1855, abortion was too taboo to be named by David Humphreys Storer.  In November 1855, six months after Horatio had returned from Edinburgh, Scotland where he had been assisting James Young Simpson, David was willing to directly address the subject.  It is possible that Horatio influenced David Humphreys Storer to include abortion in his Introductory Lecture.  If so, this might account for David allowing the abortion portion to be omitted when the Lecture was published.

65. “Death of Dr. John P. Leonard,” p. 464.

66. Ibid.

67. H.R. Storer, “The History and Resources of the Valley of the Mississippi,” June 1850, Courtesy of the Harvard University Archives: HU 89.165.221.

68. Horatio reported in his diary on 24 November 1847 that he viewed Barnard’s Panorama of the Mississippi.  Horatio expressed major interest in the Western expeditions and made a six-month trip to the West in 1858.  Horatio in the March 1870 “Editorial Notes” of the Journal of the Gynaecological. Society of Boston, singled out a San Francisco magazine, Overland Monthly, and a book, Sunset Land, by “our old friend, the Rev. Dr. John Todd, of Pittsfield,” citing both for their “fascinating occidental charm—for the West outvies the East in interest to us Americans.”  In 1871, Horatio traveled to Utah and California when the American Medical Association met in San Francisco and remained in California for several months.

69. J.V.C. Smith, “Catalogue of the Marine and Fresh Water Fishes of Massachusetts.” In Edward Hitchcock, Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts (Amherst, J.S. & C. Adams, 1833); H.R. Storer, “Observations on the Fishes of Nova Scotia and Labrador, with Descriptions of New Species,” Boston Journal of Natural History 1850, 6, 246-270; D.H. Storer, “A Report on the Fishes of Massachusetts,” Boston Journal of Natural History 1839, 2, 289-570.

70. R.T. Legge, “Note on J.P. Leonard, M.D., Gold-Rush Visitor,” California Historical Society Quarterly, 1952, 31,161-162.

71. Now catalogued at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

72. H.J. Warner, “Diary,” v. 12, 25 January 1851, Massachusetts Historical Society.

73. Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp.116-117.

74. Storer, “V. Its Perpetrators,” p. 469.

75. “Proceedings, June 21, 1870 Meeting of the Gynaecological Society of Boston,” 369.

76. Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp. 4, 471.

77. Storer, “The Criminality and Physical Evils of Forced Abortions,” p. 713.

78. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” p. 480.

79. H.J. Warner, “Diary,” v. 9, 14 June 1850, Massachusetts Historical Society.

80. Storer, “VI: Its Innocent Abettors,” pp. 655-656.

 

 



[1] J.C. Mohr, Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800-1900 (New York, Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 145-170.

[2] These efforts are more fully discussed in F.N. Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D. (Canton, Massachusetts, Science History Publications/USA, 1999), pp. 100-132, 137-163.

[3]Report on Criminal Abortion,” Trans. Am. Med. Assoc., 1859, 12, 75-78.

[4] Ibid., pp. 77-78.

[5] H.R. Storer, “Contributions to Obstetric Jurisprudence: No. I.—Criminal Abortion,” North-American Medico-Chirurgical Review 1859, 3, 64-72; “II: Its Frequency, and the Causes Thereof,” 1859, 3, 260-282.; “III: Its Victims,” 1859, 3, 446-455; “IV: Its Proofs,” 1859, 3, 455-465; “V: Its Perpetrators,” 1859, 3, 465-470; “VI: Its Innocent Abettors,” 1859, 3, 643-657; “VII: Its Obstacles to Conviction,” 1859, 3, 833-854; “VIII: Can It be at all Controlled by Law?” 1859, 3, 1033-1038; “IX: The Duty of the Profession,” 1859, 3, 1039-1046; H.R. Storer, On Criminal Abortion in America (Philadelphia, Lippincott & Co., 1860).

[6] The bulk of the “Memorial” and the complete “Address” are included in Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp. 161-162.  The Indiana State Archives has a copy of the “Memorial” sent to them sometime in 1860.

[7] “Minutes, 1864 Annual Meeting,” Trans. Am. Med. Assoc., 1864, 15, 1-53, p. 50; H.R. Storer, “The Criminality and Physical Evils of Forced Abortions,” Trans. Am. Med. Assoc., 1865, 16, 709-745.

[8] H.R. Storer, Why Not? A Book for Every Woman (Boston, Lee and Shepard, 1866), and H.R. Storer, Is It I? A Book for Every Man (Boston, Lee and Shepard, 1867),

[9] G.E. Smith, “Foeticide,” Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy, 1875, 10, 211-213; A.B. Tadlock, “Abortion—Its Entailments,” in the Medical and Surgical Reporter 1878, 38, 321-324; and see discussion by Henry D. Holton of H.W. Cattell, “Some Medico-Legal Aspects of Abortion,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Medicine 1907, 8, 334-352, p. 347.

[10] H.R. Storer, “Criminal Abortion: Its Prevalence, Its Prevention, and Its Relation to the Medical Examiner ...,” Microfiche #AN 0320 in the Adelaide Nutting Historical Nursing Microfilm Collection which is a microfiche of an offprint of the article in Atlantic Medical Weekly 1897, 209-218.  Offprint page numbers 1-34, p. 12-13.

[11] H.R. Storer, “Studies of Abortion,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1863, 68, 15-20.  H.R. Storer, “The Abetment of Criminal Abortion by Medical Men,” New York Med. J., 1866, 3, 422-433.  A key example in the Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston is “Proceedings, June 21, 1870 Meeting of the Gynaecological Society of Boston,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1870, 3, 357-373, pp. 369-373.

[12] “Gardner, Augustus Kinsley,” In H.A. Kelly and W.L. Burrage, Dictionary of American Medical Biography (New York, Appleton, 1928), p. 452.

[13] A.K. Gardner, “Physical Decline of American Women,” Knickerbocker, 1960, 55, 37-52, pp. 46-49.

[14] “Abortionists,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1863, 10, 434; “Criminal Abortion,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1865, 13, 306; “A Social Evil¾Infantiphobia,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1866, 14, 114; “Infantiphobia and Infanticide,” Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1866, 14, 212-213.

[15] Several dozen of these are mentioned in Mohr’s Abortion in America.  Dozens more are discussed in a book in preparation, F.N. Dyer, The Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion.  Of the hundreds, all but two or three strongly condemned induced abortion unless it was necessary to save the life of the mother.

[16]  See for example, M.A. Dixon-Jones, “Criminal Abortion, Its Evils and Its Sad Consequences,” Med. Rec., 1894, 46, 9-16, pp. 12-13.

[17] “Editorial Notes,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, ,1869, 1, 185.

[18] If only one generation showed an increase in surviving pregnancies as a result of the physicians’ crusade amounting to three percent of children this would provide a parent (or two) for 5.9 percent of the next generation, at least one grandparent for 11.5 percent of the second generation, at least one great-grandparent for 21.6 percent of the third generation, at least one great-great-grandparent for 38.5 percent of the fourth generation, etc.  What is more, the additional survivors of pregnancy were not limited to a single generation.

[19] H.R. Storer and F.F. Heard, Criminal Abortion: Its Nature, Its, Evidence, and Its Laws (Boston, Little, Brown, and Company, 1868), footnote p. 2.

[20] D.H. Storer, "Two Frequent Causes of Uterine Disease," J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1872, 6, 194-203.

[21] D.H. Storer, An Introductory Lecture before the Medical Class of 1855-56 of Harvard University (Boston, David Clapp Printer, 1855).

[22] “An Introductory Lecture ...,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1855, 53, 409-411, pp. 410-411.

[23] F.N. Dyer, “Autobiographical Letter from Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., to His Son, Malcolm Storer, M.D., Discussing the History of Gynaecological Teaching,: J. Hist. Med., 1999,  54, 439-458, p. 445

[24]Editorial Notes,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1872, 6, 393-400, p. 394.

[25] One consequence of this feud is discussed in Dyer, “Autobiographical Letter from Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., to His Son, Malcolm Storer, M.D.,” p. 453.  Bigelow was frequently castigated in the “Editorial Notes” of the Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston.  See. Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp. 329-351.

[26] Storer, Two Frequent Causes of Uterine Disease.”

[27] Ibid., pp. 200-201.

[28] Storer, “Contributions to Obstetric Jurisprudence: No. I.—Criminal Abortion,” p. 67.

[29] Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp. 121-122.

[30] J.P. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1851, 43, 477-481.

[31] Rhode Island Medical Society Records.  Rhode Island Historical Society.

[32] Personal communication: Stephen E. Novak, Head, Archives & Special Collections, A.C. Long Health Sciences Library, Columbia University

[33] J.P. Leonard, “The Cases of Fever Lately Observed In Cumberland, R.I.” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1847, 37,  89-96; J.P. Leonard, “Case of Cyanosis, or Blue Skin,”Boston Med. Surg. J., 1848, 38, 363-365., J.P. Leonard, “On Epidemic Influence,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1848, 38, 431-441; 461-464; 475-478. 

[34] J.P. Leonard, “Medical Matters at Panama—Letter from Dr. Leonard,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1849, 40, 455-458; J.P. Leonard, “Letter from California—Climate and Diseases of the Country—Gold Digging—The Colera,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1849, 41, 52-55; J.P. Leonard, “Letter from California,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1849, 41, 394-399.

[35] J.P. Leonard, “On the Different Varieties of Diarrhoea,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1850, 42, 304-309; 341-346; 401-407; 425-431.

[36] Leonard, “On Epidemic Influence,” p. 433.

[37] Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” p. 478.

[38] Ibid.

[39]Proceedings, June 21, 1870 Meeting of the Gynaecological Society of Boston,” J. Gynaecol. Soc. Boston, 1870, 3, 357-373, 369.

[40] Storer, “V. Its Perpetrators,” p. 469.

[41] Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” pp. 478-479.

[42] Ibid., p. 479.

[43] D.H. Storer, “Address Delivered at the First Medical Commencement of the Massachusetts Medical College,”John Wilson and Son, Boston, 1855, 12-13.

[44] Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion, “ p.479; “Criminal Abortionism in New York,” New York Medical Gazette, 1850, 1, 6.

[45] Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” p. 479.

[46] Ibid., pp. 479-480.

[47] Ibid. p. 479.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid. p. 480.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid., p. 481.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Walter Channing, “Effects of Criminal Abortion,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1859, 60, 134-142, p. 140.

[57] “Death of Dr. John P. Leonard,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1851, 44, 464-465.  “Died,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1851, 44, 467.

[58] H.L. Hodge, An introductory lecture to the course on obstetrics, and diseases of women and children: University of Pennsylvania, November 6, 1839 (Philadelphia : Lydia R. Bailey, 1839); On criminal abortion; a lecture introductory to the course on obstetrics, and diseases of women and children, University of Pennsylvania, session 1854-5 (Philadelphia, T.K. and P.G. Collins, 1854).  There were further editions in 1869, 1872, and 1876.

[59] Morris Fishbein, History of the American Medical Association, 1847 to 1947 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1947), pp. 24-25.

[60] “Criminal Abortionism in New York,” p. 6.  In Storer’s 1859 article, “Its Frequency, and the Causes Thereof,” p. 267, Storer actually made reference to the 1849 Annual Report of the City Inspector that Reese had quoted from and not to Reese’s editorial.  However, Horatio corrected a ratio that was incorrect in Reese’s editorial because Reese had incorrectly copied one of the numbers in the ratio.  This showed that Horatio had actually copied data from Reese and not the original 1849 Report.  It may be significant that this was the same Gazette article that Leonard referred to in “Quackery and Abortion.”

[61] “Criminal Abortions,” Boston Med. Surg. J., 1844, 30, 302-303, p. 302.

[62] H.J. Warner, “Diary,” v. 11, 11 November 1850, Massachusetts Historical Society.

[63] D.H. Storer, An Address on Medical Jurisprudence (Boston, J. Wilson & Son, 1851), p. 3.

[64] When Horatio Robinson Storer was absent from Boston in March 1855, abortion was too taboo to be named by David Humphreys Storer.  In November 1855, six months after Horatio had returned from Edinburgh, Scotland where he had been assisting James Young Simpson, David was willing to directly address the subject.  It is possible that Horatio influenced David Humphreys Storer to include abortion in his Introductory Lecture.  If so, this might account for David allowing the abortion portion to be omitted when the Lecture was published.

[65] “Death of Dr. John P. Leonard,” p. 464.

[66] Ibid.

[67] H.R. Storer, “The History and Resources of the Valley of the Mississippi,” June 1850, Courtesy of the Harvard University Archives: HU 89.165.221.

[68] Horatio reported in his diary on 24 November 1847 that he viewed Barnard's Panorama of the Mississippi.  Horatio expressed major interest in the Western expeditions and made a six-month trip to the West in 1858.  Horatio in the March 1870 “Editorial Notes” of the Journal of the Gynaecological. Society of Boston, singled out a San Francisco magazine, Overland Monthly, and a book, Sunset Land, by “our old friend, the Rev. Dr. John Todd, of Pittsfield,” citing both for their “fascinating occidental charm—for the West outvies the East in interest to us Americans.”  In 1871, Horatio traveled to Utah and California when the American Medical Association met in San Francisco and remained in California for several months.

[69] J.V.C. Smith, “Catalogue of the Marine and Fresh Water Fishes of Massachusetts.” In Edward Hitchcock, Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts (Amherst, J.S. & C. Adams, 1833); H.R. Storer, “Observations on the Fishes of Nova Scotia and Labrador, with Descriptions of New Species,” Boston Journal of Natural History 1850, 6, 246-270.  Horatio's dedication is on p. 253 D.H. Storer, “A Report on the Fishes of Massachusetts,” Boston Journal of Natural History 1839, 2, 289-570.

[70] R.T. Legge, “Note on J.P. Leonard, M.D., Gold-Rush Visitor,” California Historical Society Quarterly, 1952, 31,161-162.

[71] Now catalogued at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

[72] H.J. Warner, “Diary,” v. 12, 25 January 1851, Massachusetts Historical Society.

[73] Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., pp.116-117.

[74] Storer, “V. Its Perpetrators,” p. 469.

[75] Proceedings, June 21, 1870 Meeting of the Gynaecological Society of Boston,” 369.

[76] Dyer, Champion of Women and the Unborn: Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., p. 4, 471.

[77]  Storer, “The Criminality and Physical Evils of Forced Abortions,” p. 713.

[78] Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” p. 480.

[79] H.J. Warner, “Diary,” v. 9, 14 June 1850, Massachusetts Historical Society.

[80] Storer, “VI: Its Innocent Abettors,” pp. 655-656.


A transcript of QUACKERY AND ABORTION follows:

THE BOSTON MEDICAL AND SURGICAL JOURNAL.

BOSTON, JANUARY 15, 1851.

QUACKERY AND ABORTION.

[Communicated for the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.]

The medical profession takes rank with the other learned professions; and is justly regarded by all enlightened nations as one of the most useful, liberal and noble of the sciences. Our profession, for centuries, has been advancing. It has, indeed, accomplished that which its most ardent admirers could not reasoably [sic] have expected, and now it is no way inferior to law or theology. This was not so once; for in by-gone days, physic ranked lowest in the scale of the learned professions. Rome had her orators, poets and generals; England her statesmen, bishops and barristers. They had their physicians also; but how comparatively small is the space these disciples of Hippocrates and Sydenham occupy on the page of their country's history, compared with the volumes which contain the writings, discoveries and transactions of the distinguished men of other professions.  But when the history of our times shall be recorded, the names of those who distinguish themselves in medicine and surgery will shine as brightly as those of the jurist, the divine, the military chieftain, and others, who have also been useful to their race, and shed lustre and renown upon the nations of their birth place or adoption.

For the last half century the progress of medicine has been, in all civilized countries, remarkable; but nowhere more marked than in the United States. The indomitable and enterprising energies of our countrymen have been manifest in this department. The condition of our colleges has improved; our medical societies have taken, and continue to take, higher grounds. The American Medical Association is annually adding rich and ripe sheaves to the great store-house of science; these are constantly taking the place of tares, which have hitherto occupied too much space.  The Association has not only for its object the expurging [sic] of worthless material and the supplying of sound doctrines, but it also aims at the establishment of good regulations and ethics, with a view that justice, honorable conduct, and moral integrity, shall govern and preserve the medical men of this country (thus indirectly but really benefiting the sick and all others throughout the land), and if possible, eradicate every vestige of quackery with which our country has been scourged.

While the Association, through its committees, has made excellent suggestions, pointed out valuable improvements, and discountenanced quackery in most of its forms and devices, it has not yet struck any decided blow on that most diabolical kind of quackery, that high-handed villany [sic], which characterizes the abortionist. That this kind of charlatanism is rife, and is practised by regular members of the profession, that is, men who have diplomas, there can be no doubt; and I believe that some who are promoted to office in our medical societies are of this order of quacks. That such men are quacks, no one will question—the epithet belongs to the unprincipled as well as to the ignorant.

It may be thought that the nature of this subject is such as to render it best to be silent.  But I take no such view of the matter; and if I possess no ability in the way of putting it down, I wish to warn the young practitioner, who is about to make his debut in his profession, as he values his future usefulness, as he values principle, as he values reputation and a good name, to abstain from the infernal performance under every circumstance, let the inducement be what it may. No honorable man of experience will for a moment think of such an immoral act; the unprincipled man will do it—will do anything, however mean or vile—for money. The young man, while he is waiting for more laudable employment, may be tempted. Such are often applied to, to procure abortions, especially if thought to be in need of money. The applicants should be spurned, and their offers treated with disdain—let their money perish with them.  I insist upon it, that this is a dangerous situation for many young men, and if they fall here, just as they are to be introduced into legitimate practice, they fall forever; their sins will surely find them out.

These abortionists seem not aware that the testimony of their dying victims is generally elicited by the attending physician and friends; or that the throes of parturition, the fear of death, or some other circumstance, will draw out all the facts in the case; and that they themselves will henceforth be considered quacks and murderers by many whose respect and esteem they would gladly enjoy.

Need I allude to the moral and physical evils this practice produces? Are they not manifest, fearfully manifest, in this community, even within the puritan borders of New England? It increases prostitution and infanticides, and breaks down the constitutions of those who are naturally healthy. Look at the bills of mortality as returned from our large cities; see what numbers die of peritoneal inflammation; mark the increase of stillborn children and premature births!—(Vid. New York Medical Gazette, Vol. I., No. 1, page 6.)

Besides these bills of mortality, the records of criminal courts will furnish sufficient proof that this crime is every day becoming more prevalent. It is humiliating to admit that there are a class of physicians who, Herod-like, have waged a war of destruction upon the innocent. Though their motives are not the same as those which instigated that cruel king, they are no less murderers for that. If there is any difference, they are worse than Herod.  He was influenced by popular clamor and bigotry; these quacks do all for money, and such could be hired to burn out the eyes of infant princes.

These men are better known than they would like to be. It is said that a woman cannot keep a secret. Whether this is so or not, the man who procures abortions is generally well known. He needs no hand-bills, placards, or other advertisement; he is soon notorious. Inglorious fame! Who would have such a disgraceful notoriety? Who would thus disgrace his profession; who would sell his claim to honor and principle; who would shed innocent blood for a few pieces of silver? After a man has thus degraded himself, after he has sunk so low, can he expect to retrieve his character? Whoever knew such a man to reform? If he is susceptible to feelings of remorse, like Judas he will go out and hang himself to hide his own shame.

I consider this species of quackery the most abominable and wicked of all. Anything is charlatanism which is morally dishonest, though it may be practised under cover of a diploma; and therefore that man is a charlatan, to all intents and purposes, who, like the notorious Restell, becomes the executioner of babes in utero. Such a man is the vilest of quacks, and the meanest of men.

I shall not stop to give the history of those lamentable cases which have come under my observation, and terminated fatally as the consequence of procured abortion—those fatal cases of puerperal peritonitis, caused by the bloody hands of doctors and M.D.'s; but if the confessions of the dying are to be relied upon, I know men who have carried on this shameful and iniquitous business, and have not only been the murderers of infants, but the instruments also of consigning their guilty mothers to premature graves, “unhouselled, unanointed, unannealed.”

I have heard some of the older members of the profession say that abortions are of more frequent occurrence now than formerly; and they have rightly suspected the increase is owing to criminal hands. I need not remark on the evil consequences of this mischief upon health—the health of American women. I need not attempt to portray its blighting and destroying effects upon the strength of the fair daughters of New England, for their withering results are well understood by the majority of your readers. Various instruments are employed for destroying the integrity of the ovum, and I have been informed that these quacks conceal their weapons from their patrons as if they were something strange or curious. I was told, not long since, by a woman who was operated upon recently in a neighboring city, that the wretch who performed the operation obliged her to take solemn oath not to expose him. She kept her word, for she would not give me his name, but left me to guess who he was! Being a true Yankee myself, I suppose I can guess with ordinary exactness. This woman said that at the same time there were several other women apparently waiting for the “slaughter” in an ante-room of the building.

Irregular practitioners, and the women themselves, are addicted to this kind of criminality; but, as a general thing, they have learned their art of some unprincipled doctor, who either purposely or accidentally let slip the secret to the vulgar. The implements which I have heard of as being used by these irregular quacks, are sharpened sticks, goose-quills, wires, &c.; not those beautifully-polished, tonsil-lancet instruments, which some of the regular quacks wield with so much dexterity and freedom, as “If the assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch, with his surcease, success.” I once found a wire (then bent at nearly a right angle) in the vagina of a young girl who had been in the hands of a regular abortionist.  At each extremity of the wire was a leaden ball, about the size of a marble, one end of which had probably been introduced into the os uteri, and there left to remain till contractions of that organ should be established.  For the information of the villain who was guilty of this double massacre (should his eye fall upon this page), I will state that the operation succeeded—succeeded in destroying a foetus of five months, and in impairing the health of the girl so that she continued to suffer from uterine disorder, and finally died in about three years afterwards.

Now in view of honoring and improving the condition of our praiseworthy and liberal calling, as well as that of society at large, I ask the co-operation of every respectable physician to aid in putting down everything and everybody that shall appear to be cognizant of the offence—the crime of procuring abortions—the massacre of infants. I do not think that we should in any case expose our patients, those who place their lives and reputations in our hands. This would be a breach of confidence—a violation of good faith; a principle which physicians have held inviolable both in ancient and modern times.  The perpetrator, and not the subject of the crime, should be made responsible. I leave it for others to prescribe the method and manner of checking and rebuking these quacks in their criminal progress. Public opinion, the indignation of the populace, will not be sufficient to meet the exigency which the importance of this matter demands. Public justice is slow, and the people who employ these quacks will not be shocked by any outrage, or be disgusted by any measures, however revolting they may be to ordinary minds, and moral men; for they are in truth nothing better than accessories, and without their aid and support this class of practitioners could not live. I would suggest, however, as a starting point towards reform, that medical societies and associations expel these “assassinators,” and that each physician take the responsibility of informing against them whenever opportunity may offer. For one I am willing to join such a crusade, however unpleasant the war may be, and do all that I can in the way sequari vestigia rerum. The medical profession is bound to take action in this matter; if it is not done, if proper measures are not resorted to, injustice and disgrace will be charged upon us for affording protection and fellowship to these charlatans. This evil is not confined to any particular region or section of country; it has at length become general, and is a national curse.

Every State should render the offence of inducing premature laborer abortion a penal one (unless it shall be done for the safety of the mother, where there is a deformed or contracted pelvis, or where some other cause renders the operation absolutely necessary); it should be a State-prison offence, at least.

The evil is one of such magnitude that I have felt it my duty to make this communication. If by it any one shall be persuaded from falling into criminal quackery, certainly good will come out of it. Or if those who make laws and regulations for medical men shall be induced to render the crime punishable, and this action be taken any sooner because the medical public have thus had their attention directed to the subject, I shall have no cause to regret that I have incurred the displeasure of those practitioners who have been styled abortionists, or that I have made the admission, through the medium of your Journal, that there is criminal quackery in the medical ranks.

                                    Yours respectfully,

Greenville, R. I., Dec. 27th, 1850.             J. P. Leonard.

John P. Leonard, “Quackery and Abortion,” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. 43 (January 15, 1851): 477-81.

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