Storer Articles

Articles related to Horatio Robinson Storer and the Physicians' Crusade Against Abortion

Articles discussing American Gynecology and/or The Physicians’ Crusade

The following is Dr. Horatio Robinson Storer’s presentation to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on December 14, 1868. It documents his extensive research on the reasons that the population was not increasing at the normal rate. He showed that frequent criminal abortion was a major factor. The paper upset Storer’s Boston physician colleagues who requested that Storer withhold publication. It was finally published nine years later.

Dyer, F. N. Autobiographical letter from Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D., to his son, Malcolm Storer, M.D., discussing the "History of gynaecological teaching". J Hist Med Allied Sci. 1999 Jul;54(3):439-58.


Dyer, F.N.
The Physicians' Crusade Against Abortion -New Oxford Review


The editorial, “Criminal Abortion,” published on March 13, 1867 in the Chicago-based Northwestern Christian Advocate, a popular Methodist newspaper, was a rare discussion of criminal abortion by a non-Catholic religious authority. It received considerable attention from the medical press and may have been a powerful influence on the general public. The Editor of the Advocate was Rev. Thomas Mears Eddy and the Associate Editor was Rev. Arthur Edwards.



Published every Wednesday for the Methodist Episcopal Church, at 65 Washington St., Chicago Ill.

T. M. EDDY, D. D. Editor


OF THE Detroit Conf., Associate Editor

Chicago, March 13, 1867



[Where reference is made to books in this list, the pages are named. Where no page is given, the reference is to another work by the same author. Additional authorities are named in the article.—Ed.]

“Why Not?”—A book for every woman. The Prize Essay of the American Medical Association for 1865. By Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D. Boston, Lee & Shepard.

Beck’s Medical Jurisprudence. 2 Vols., 8vo.

Wharton & Stille on Medical Jurisprudence.

A Report on Obstetrics to Ohio State Medical Society, 1868, by Thaddeus A. Ream, M.D. of Zanesville.

Criminal Abortion, by Morse Stewart, M.D. of Detroit Mich.: Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy, Jan., 1867,

The Social Evil: Chicago Medical Examiner, March 1867.

Nine years ago, at the bedside of a repenting, dying woman, reputed a Christian, we received the first shuddering glimpse of an evil which, as we expect to show, is fearfully wide-spread and a suicidal crime. The suspicion there and then startled into existence has, by years of observation, some medical reading and abundance of professional testimony, been shocked into the resistless conviction which prompts this article. That dying woman was a type of thousands who by attacks upon foetal life, involve the added responsibility of suicide. Clad in darkness we were powerless to dispel, she was descending into a valley darker than David’s, and, where a papal priest must have refused absolution, we could only thankfully remember that “with God all things are possible.”

Our present duty is not pleasant—and it may prove thankless. A delicate subject will be treated with all the delicate euphemism and circumlocution consistent with intelligibility, yet we are hopeless that some over sensitive, uninformed or wincing readers will not remain unshocked or unoffended.

We expect to show that a species of Infanticide is fearfully prevalent in American society—that the practice is murder—that it is a prolific and almost exclusive source of American female diseases—that it eclipses in iniquity, and is promotive of nearly all other social crimes, and that, therefore, the prevalent toleration and excuses for the practice are outrages against decency, humanity, and high Heaven.

In advance of the discussion, we are glad to express our belief that, among our guilty thousands, the great majority “know not what they do.” From the very first, this has been our hope and we are reassured, since Dr. Taylor, commenting on the “frightful tendency * * in this country, which has long been notorious,” adds that the frequency and notoriety are “no less than the extraordinary ignorance of its criminality even among well-educated persons.” (p. 460).

The evil in question, though its widest prevalence has been attained with the past decade, already has a literature of which we name but fragments. And here we anticipate the suggestion that the discussion should be still left exclusively to medical men and publications. Unfortunately for all, such as been the case for ten years. All honor to the noble profession which has so faithfully uttered its warning, but alas, the needed alarm, while it reaches but a tithe of the people, is also powerless to create that correct Christian sentiment which will throttle the monster abuse and socially outlaw the unnatural sinner against God.

Those two mighty movers of moral reform, the Pulpit and Religious Press, must at once come to the rescue. In the present extremity, excessive modesty is incompetence, false delicacy a sin, and open, chaste, thorough earnest discussion but bounded duty. We are, however, very glad to have in advance the example of accomplished authors, the expressed wishes of eminent physicians of Chicago and elsewhere, and a file of letters pleading for discussion of the subject in these columns where it will reach more of the people of this country than have ever before been reached by the theme.

The crime in question is Foeticide or the killing of unborn children. When necessary, it is simple “abortion,” when unavoidable under certain circumstances, miscarriage, and when unnecessary, “Criminal Abortion”—Murder, as we will presently prove, and until then, assume. (See Stewart p. 2.)

Using the word in its third sense, the extended American practice is a branch of Infanticide, which horror many suppose confined to the heathen nations for whose evangelization we endow our mission treasures. It may appear that there are “Baby Towers” outside of China and that a Ganges flows at our Christian doors.

In an unmitigated barbarism, infanticide is seldom dissociated from foeticide. The guilty transition from taking the life of an unborn, to that of killing a born child is logically facile. “From time immemorial ***there has existed in countless human breasts a wanton disregard of foetal life, a practicable approval of infanticide.” (Storer, 16.)

Moses said nothing of either, because every married Jewess, for familiar reasons was and is more than willing to become a mother. Seduced by idolatry, even the chosen people sacrificed their offspring, and were denounced unto death (Leviticus xx.), making “Tophet” infamous and to us properly synonymous with Hell for there the little innocents “passed through the fire unto Moloch.” The Phoenicians, the Spartans with the approbation of Aristotle and Plato who did their very best for “Divine Philosophy,” and the Romans were all infanticides. Only our holy Christianity mitigated that heathenism as is proven by the extant writings of Justyn Martyr, Minutius Felix and Tertullian, and the specific edicts of Constantine to Africa and Italy, The inflexible constitutions of China, Japan and Hidoostan [sic]still perpetuate the crimes of antiquity, which the Hottentots, the natives of the Feejee Islands, New South Wales, New Zealand, Madagascar and other eastern countries continue the murder of the weak and innocent until enlightened buy the Gospel.

Criminal abortion was and is equally wide-spread and has not, as with us, originated during later years. Heathendom inherits barbarism; we have relapsed into it. Juvenal, born about A.D. 38, was by no means a prude, but the brutishness of Roman women fairly stung him into protest. Near the close of his sixth, longest and most denunciatory satire, contrasting the poor and the rich, he says:

“Yet those, when circumstances so require, are ready to encounter the perils of childbirth, and endure all the irksome toils of nursing. But rarely does a gilded bed contain a woman lying-in: so potent are the arts and drugs of her that can ensure barrenness, and for bribes kill men while yet unborn.”

In Japan these “drugs” are sold by priestly venders and modern Egypt, like America, is cursed with gangs of quack abortionists and “irregular practitioners” whose scoundrel “arts kill men for bribes” and richly deserve the halter. Would to God the curse were confined to the Eastern Continent. On this, heathen populations from Hudson’s Bay to Peru, including several Indian tribes, practice foeticide. Alas! This species of murder is not restricted to the uncivilized, the unchristianized, or to those enrolled within Christian churches. We have examined the subject somewhat closely for years and have been cruelly shocked by statistics and discoveries made, yet even we are assured that only the observant, constant medical practitioner can realize how widely and deeply the perversion of nature has demoralized, and is more widely and deeply demoralizing society. To systematize our remarks we show—

I. The alarming prevalence of foeticide.

In 1860, Dr. M.B. Wright said to the Ohio State Medical Society that:

“The time is not far distant when children will be sacrificed among us with as little hesitation as among the Hindoos.”

Now, in 1807, two Hindoo provinces alone sacrificed thirty thousand children. Was Dr.Wright beside himself? We fear not, for one year ago, Dr. Reamy , Chairman of the same Committee in the same Society, expressed his firm belief adduced—

“From a very large verbal and written correspondence in this and other states, together with personal investigation and facts accumulated, ** that we have become a nation of murders.” (P. 18)

Dr. Hugh L. Hodge of the University of Pennsylvania, in his opening lecture for 1854, utters fearful warning. Dr. Taylor speaks of the “frightful tendency to criminal abortion.” (P. 460) Dr. Stewart laments “its increased and increasing prevalence * * found to be * * the fruit of legitimate wedlock in every grade of society, high and low.” (p. 7.) Dr. Storer said in 1859, “forced abortions in America are of very frequent occurrence and this frequency is rapidly increasing.” (Pp. 62,63) Additional evidence on this point may be found in the 68th chapter of Dixon’s “New America.” Even the daily papers contain testimony to the point. A Correspondent of the Albany Argus says:

“Within a few years, a large number of private medical institutes have spring up. Their general appearance is that of a genteel family residence and no one would for a moment suppose that within its quiet wall is witnessed the daily crime of murder.

The board and moderate attendance is at such places enormous, ranging from $500 to $1,000 for a few days’ attendance. Therefore it is not poverty that drives these women to commit the crime of infanticide, nor is it to cover shame, as the crime is perpetrated as often by married as by unmarried women. A distinguished medical gentleman estimates the slaughter of children at thirty a week.”

Hundreds who read this evidence know it to be correct, hundreds who may criticise this discussion may also vainly attempt to disprove these statements, and hundreds more, hitherto uninformed, will be overwhelmed with sorrow at the saddening facts. In every city, town and in many hamlets these practices are current and notorious. Miscarriages are frequent and certain uninstructed or embruted feminine circles have their centers where the means employed and successes attained are topics of exchangable information. For instance, we could to prove that withinn one little village of one thousand inhabitants, prominent women have been guilty of what we will presently show to be murder. And, sadder still, half of these are members of Christ’s Church. Yet here, and elsewhere, where fifteen per cent of wives have the criminal hardihood to practice this black art, there is a still larger and additional per cent who endorse and defend it. One of the worst features of the case is the fact that if a young, pure and inexperienced wife is shocked by revelations made by hardened abortionists, she is straightway ridiculed into silence, or argued into acquiescence. The very worst feature, however, is that young girls, too young to marry, are initiated into these mysteries of massacre, thoroughly imbued with a dislike of children, especially their future own, and are thus prepared to perpetuate this horrid villiany [sic] when; their more aged instructors are gone up before God. We protest that it is too pitiful that we are not to have relief when the present generation of foeticides are buried, and that they insist on devising their butchering tendencies to future daughters and wives. To fortify these statement we have Dr. Stewart’s testimony:

“But few of either sex enter the marital relation without full information as to the ways and means of ** destroying the legitimate results of matrimony. ** Among married persons, so extensive has this practice become that people of high repute not only commit this crime but do not even shun to speak boastingly among their intimates, of the deed and the means of accomplishing it.” (Pp. 7,8)

Hundreds who read this know by experience that there are gangs of scoundrels, who, to obtain money from the credulous, send vile circulars promising immunity from offspring to all newly married couples whose marriage notices they read in the papers.

What a tempest of indignation went about the newspaper world when the Round Table lately asserted that American women are addicted to intemperance. There is some ground for the too sweeping charge, but how trivial it is compared to the one we are considering. Whisky drowns its besotted thousands but that other crime slays its innocent tens of thousands.

One more statement we must add, anticipating its criticism both in and out of the church—but let it be remembered that it is not an infidel’s property, made as it is by one who loves the church and who writes for the good of the church; viz.—that not only the ignorant but the instructed, not only the “outsider,” but the church member—and not only the pews but the pulpit, has in a few cases domestically endorsed and in fewer cases still, actually resorted to criminal l abortion. We vehemently assert that this was through ignorance of it true criminality, but it has been done, in evidence of which one of our very best and most reliable physicians might be cited. With the emphasized repetition of the plea of ignorance just made, we quote from the letter of Dr. Kyle of Xenia Ohio, quoted by Dr. Reamy:

“The abortions occur most frequently among those who are known as the better class; amongst church members, and those generally who pretend to be the most polite, virtuous, moral and religious. A venal press—a demoralized clergy, the prevalence of [medical] charlatanism *** are the principal causes of the fearful increase of the abominable crime of criminal abortions.”

Before defining the crime more closely we cite a few facts showing how this question has a national bearing.

As early as 1850, it was ascertained that in Massachusetts the excess of births over all kind of deaths, child and adult, was confined to families of foreign origin and that, in 1853, the natural increase of population in most older states was similarly restricted. The Editor of the London Athenaeum in his late work, “New America,” says:

“Is it pleasant for any one to consider that in three or four generations more, there may be no Americans left on the American soil? *** The only states in which there is a high and healthy rate of natural increase, are the wild countries peopled by settlers—Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi ***The power of New England is passing over to the populous West, and a majority of the rising generation of Boston is either of German or of Irish birth. *** At present the foreigners count only one in five but as more children are being born to that foreign minority, ** in twenty years these foreign children will be the majority of men in Massachusetts.” (Chapter 68.)

Dr. Storer, in the Journal of Science and Arts, shows that, since 1805, the number, proportionate and actual, of foetal deaths in New York City has steadily and rapidly increased. While the population has increased, since then, only six times, the foetal deaths have multiplied over twenty-seven times. In 1805 the ratio was one to sixteen hundred and thirty-three, and, by lustrums, the ratio had increased to one in three hundred and forty, in 1849. In the same city the foetal deaths as compared with the total mortality had increased from one in thirty-seven in 1805, to one in thirteen in 1855.

Massachusetts presents more startling statistics. In 1850, foetal deaths as compared with the living births was one to fifteen and one-half. In France it was one to twenty-four and in Austria one to forty-nine. In New York the foetal deaths in proportion to the general mortality was one to eleven, while in Massachusetts the corresponding ratio was, in 1855, one to ten. From 1850 to 1855, in Massachusetts, the frequency of abortions as compared with still births at the full time was eight times as great as in the worst statistics in the city of New York. Dr. Jacob Bigelow, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1858, then disbelieved the wide prevalence of foeticide, but subsequently publicly acknowledge that his doubt were owing to the fact that he had not personally investigated the matter.

Some of our readers may be thus similarly inclined to doubt—and to them we commend close examination of the question. Procure any or all of the works we have mentioned and they with their references, will furnish you with authority sufficient to satisfy the most skeptical. Our evidence will be increased by study of the etiology of American female diseases—or by even the necessarily mere glances at the topic give in our following remarks and quotations concerning the diseases resulting from foeticide. The figures we have given are compiled from returns in older states where systems of registration are organized. These systems are not yet in operation in younger states, or we might be similarly overwhelmed with unwelcome truth. It is sufficient to know that Doctors Storer, Hodge, Stewart, Byford, Davis, Jewell, Roler and others believe that the persistent system of foetal extermination has been increasing in prevalence and success since the years upon which published statistics are based.

II. Procured abortion is murder in some legal degree, when not necessary to save the mother’s life.

Coke defines murder to be—“when a person *** unlawfully killeth any reasonable creature in being, ***with malice aforethought either express or implied.” (3 Inst. 47.) Implied malice is “when death occurs in the prosecution of an unlawful design.” (Bouvier.) A “reasonable creature” means, of course, a human creature. Not a reasoning, but a reasonable creature,”—potentially endowed with reason, in which sense the word attaches as strictly to a foetus as to a new born-babe. If now we show that—

1. A foetus is, at any age, “in being;

2. Its killing is “designed”—and

3. Its killing is “unlawful”—we therefore show “malice implied and therefore, murder.

These points in the testimony we will adduce are necessarily involved with one another, but we will make a case of it.

1. When is the foetus animated or “in being?”

The period when animation begins has been the subject of much debate. The old Stoic idea was that the soul is not united to the body until after respiration begins and this would appear to be the nonsensical practical test of the modern abortionists, if they ever pretend to defend their crime. Women frequently continued their abortive potions or contrivances until soon before the period of parturition. Other ancient distinctions between the foetus “organized” and “unorganized” have been pronounced by crushing authority “enemies of morals and humanity and worthy of the ignorance and prejudices of their authors.” (Beck, I., 465.)

The old English law, alluded to by Blackstone (Com. I. 129, 130), distinguished between a child “before and after quickening.” English judges have rendered conflicting opinions, but that law provides that even before quickening—

“An infant is supposed to be born for many purposes. It is capable of having a legacy and *** it may have a guardian assigned to it” (Com. I. 130).

Elwell on Malpractice and Medical Evidence says:

“The life of the foetus or embryo immediately after conception is just as positive physiologically as at any subsequent period.” (P. 251).

Beck, a standard, alluding to old theories reasons conclusively thus:

“The absurdity of the principle upon which these distinctions are founded are of easy demonstration. The foetus, previous to the time of quickening, must be either dead or living. Now that it is not the former is most evident from neither putrefaction nor decomposition taking place, which would be the consequence of an extinction of the vital principle. ***** The embryo, therefore, before that crisis, must be in a state different from that of death, and this can be no other than life” (Med. Jur. I. 467).

Dr. Storer summing up the results of extensive medico-legal research says that,

“The distinction with regard to quickening is allowed by an acknowledged legal authority to be at open variance not only with medical experience but all other principles of the common law.

Authorities can be multiplied to any necessary extent. Further testimony on this point will be involved in what follows.

2. Is the killing a “design”?

Certainly, for we are speaking of intentional abortion unnecessarily procured.

3. Is the killing unlawful?

Even the English law punished foeticide before quickening as felony, and after quickening with death. Since the theory of “quickening” (which is but the mother’s sensation) is exploded, and since foetal life and animation dates from the embryo, the English law should punish all foeticide with death—or as some legal degree of murder. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts once decided on the basis of then existing law, that attempted abortion before quickening was not indictable. The legislature immediately remedied the defect by statute. On the other hand, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has decided that destruction of the foetus at any stage of its growth is a crime. Wharton and Stille say:

“It must be contended with far greater show of reason, if not of authority that to make the criminality of the offense (foeticide) depend upon the fact of quickening, is alike repugnant to sound morals, as it has been to just medical judgment” (Sec. 1196).

Ancient authorities and decisions and laws were based upon absurd theories, but the legislation of later years is more in harmony with more recent medical science, hence the statute laws of Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states now conform to the remodeled theory of gestation. A private note from Dr. Storer, of Boston, informs us that vigorous measures are being taken to so change the laws of a few remaining states that statutes may secure the punishment which is escaped under certain constructions of the common law.

Thus by the terms of the premises defining the crime, we have shown foeticide to be murder. It is no rebutting argument that none are punished, for if the American child-killer escapes a felon’s retribution in this world, it is owning to the same facilities which favor the man-killer. A thoughtful, truly Christian parent needs not the restrains of human law—and the relentless foeticide of a Christian century may well be confounded by the old “barbarian” Visigoth code declaring the death penalty against “one who should give a woman drugs to procure an abortion.”

The Protestant Church is to-day blackly stained by this crime of child-murder—and our Christianized society deserves the stinging satire of Juvenal. Let both be rebuked by Minutius Felix who, with others, wrote to show that Christ’s followers are not like idolatrous heathen. Here is an extract addressed to the countrymen of Juvenal:

“Some of you will not give them (the children) liberty to be born, but by cruel potions procure abortion, and smother the hopeful beginning of what would come to be a man.”

And Turtullian to the same, contrasting the two peoples and religions:

“But Christians now are so far from homicide, that with them it is utterly unlawful to make away with a child in the womb, when nature is in deliberation about the man; for to kill a child before it is born, is to commit murder by way of advance, and there is no difference whether you destroy a child in its formation, or after it is formed and delivered; for we Christians look upon him as a man who is one in embryo; for he is a being like the fruit in blossom, and in a little time would have been a perfect man, had nature met with no disturbance.”

Independently of all laws, human authorities, or decisions the true Christian theory is that the THOUGHT OF A MAN in the Mind of God embraces the entire period of his earthly relations, between the extreme limits of embryotic existence and old age. Who with a sacreligious [sic] hand does violence to this chain of sacred relation, is a MURDERER. To kill a grown man is to take the responsibility of cutting short a human probation. To kill a child soon after, or before it is born of the flesh is to deny Christ the honor of its voluntary allegiance, and God the honor of that additional human submission to His Law, once broken but now made whole by Faith.

We mentioned just now the complicity of the Protestant Church. It is not a widely known fact that, among the many errors of the Papal Church, foeticide does not appear. According to the latter’s faith, a child dying in utero is unsaved, because unbaptized. Hence the terrors of the Confessional effect what enlightened, but seared, conscience may not. Consider now this Papal baptismal dogma in connection with our earlier illustrated question of decrease of native Protestant population. Papist foreigners are restrained from foeticide by the confessional, and as a consequence, papist ascendency in this country is possible. They hear God through the priest, saying “Thou shalt do no murder;” observing the command they also minister to the life of their church. We neglect the commandment, kill the children, enervate and finally kill the mother, and involve the possible murder of our Protestant dominance on this continent. The argument is not set aside by the fact that a vast majority of the church are guiltless, for God will purify the church of that guilty small minority for the sake of the church and the world. The just conclusions may appear severe, but we agree with Dr. Reamy, who in a private note to us, says:

“I speak advisedly after a careful survey of the field, when I say that to-day no sin approaches with such stealth and dangerous power the altars of Christendom as this (foeticide). Unless it can be stayed, not only will it work its legitimate moral depravity and social ruin, but I verily fear God will visit dreadful judgment upon us, no less sever perhaps than He did upon the cities of the Plain. May our Good Heavenly Father give you power as you draw your sword against the monster.”

God only knows what a blight this awful social crime is upon the church. She is terrible, like an army with banners; one strong in the faith chases a thousand foes, and, two, agreeing together concerning their desire, secure the triumphs which thrill every Christian heart, but She is shorn of Her just strength and will arise only when murderous hands cease to touch God’s anointed little ones with whose multiplied ranks and nurtured hearts He would fain reinforce His conquering armies. “Children are as heritage of the Lord,”—are His children as well ours—and these have been slain—and are being slain—by multiplied thousands. Must another with the beauty of David and the lamentation of Ezekiel mourn.

“They sacrifized their sons and daughter unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters whom they sacrifized unto the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.***Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His people*** and they that hated them ruled over them.” (Psa. 106.)

It requires no seer to perceive that the curse is already descending in the form of—


The characteristic physical delicacy of American women is not owing principally to climate or necessary difference in mode of life. We are authorized in saying that the more serious prevailing diseases are owing to the violence done Nature by the crime we are discussing. If God’s voice will not reach infanticides, perhaps the instinct of self-preservation may.

The great inducement to foeticide is the desire to avoid the sufferings, dangers, and toils of maternity. The man who is not touched by this is a monster, but far more a monster if deceived into complicity in the insane resort for relief. It is a fact that more lives are lost during or in consequence of abortion than in the full course of natural parturition. It is expressly stated that “a very much larger proportion of women become confirmed invalids, perhaps for life—and that the tendency to organic disease at the turn of life is rendered much greater” (Storer pp. 36,37.) Nature does her work wisely and systematically—disturb her at your peril.

Dr. H.R. Storer in an article in the N. Y. Medical Journal, Sept. 1866, says that:

“Intentional abortions are a greater tax upon a woman’s health and more surely followed by Uterine disease than” gestation “completed, and this even though the patient may seem to rally from them with impunity—the result showing itself, if not immediately, then after a lapse of years, or at the turn of life.” (p. 423).

Dr. W. H. Byford, of Chicago, who as author and physician is eminently qualified to judge says: “No abortion fails to do great injury” to the patient. Dr. N. S. Davis of this city widely known as a scholarly and able authority says; “The due course of maternity is not a disease to be treated, but a course of Nature which cannot be interrupted without calamitious [sic] results.”

Among these calamitous results, direct, or yet inevitable if indirect, are Neuralgia, Dyspepsia, Weak Spines, Luucorrhea, Ovarian irritation, irritability of the kidneys, Liver Complaint, Ulcer, Hypochondria, Dropsy, Consumption, Epilepsy, all manner of Uterine diseases and Uterine displacements and Insanity. Said one of the very widest of Chicago practitioners to us ,“I can within my practice show you twenty cases of insanity caused by criminal abortion alone.” In England displacement of the Uterus is so rare that good treatment must be sought in Edinburgh, while here that pest is omnipresent, as one of God’s penalties for child murder.

Worse than even this punishment of the present generation—is that shared by the child whose vitality defied the attempt upon its foetal life, and by subsequent children. God only knows how many weak, stunted, diseased, deformed, idiotic or insane children there are and how hard it is for some to forbear cursing their unnatural parents.

An equally common and more just result of abortion is Sterility. Dr. Storer says in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal for Feb. 5, 1863, “In many cases of Sterility it will be found that the number of abortions have been almost innumerable.” There is evidence that a single abortion early in marriage has been sufficient to produce a similar result. Said a physician, already quoted, to us “In my practice alone I can find you fifty wives who by abortion are forever incapacitated to bear children.

The pleas for the practice are sophistries and devices of the devil. Some urge the Chinese plea of “poverty.” In the sight of God this is blasphemy added to murder. A parent has no more right thus to kill a child after, than before birth—nor than has a young man to murder his fiancée after he discovers that he cannot support her as his wife.

Ill health is another plea. Dr. Storer (p. 71) says that “there is not a conceivable case where an abortion will not make it worse.” Certainly a murderer’s conscience is not among God’s panaceas.

The demands of fashion are among the pleas which we cannot treat. That kind of fashion which endorses such pleas is so facilitating the descent of its votaries into the Pit, that our arguments concerning murder will not be heeded.

Many are unwilling to perpetuate malignant disease or hereditary insanity. Such parents ought never to have married. But even these will remember that just judgment condemns only the guilty to death, and not the infantile innocent. Leave the little ones to God’s mercy and save the parents’ souls from an ineffaceable stain of guilt.

Pitiful, pitiful is the thought of many pure innocent wives whose lives have been lost by the perils attending maternity and this discussion may seem almost cruel when their bitter experience is recalled. Any relief, it would seem might have been employed to save them. All necessary relief for emergencies is provided and medical science, man’s laws and God’s mercy enjoin it, but let this necessary relief be provided by a council of wise practitioners and not by quacks or unscrupulous busy-bodies whose wisdom, experience and conscience are not equal to their officious tender mercies. Here, as elsewhere, “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” “God is our Refuge and Help.” Man sinned in the beginning and the curse of “labor” was laid upon him: “the woman being deceived was in the transgression."—but under Christ's New Dispensation there is Redemption promised, not through the atonement of murder—but by an appeal to our Great Physician—for it is written by Paul, "she shall be saved in child-bearing, if they (father and mother) continue in faith and charity, and holiness, with sobriety."


There is a long list of evils and crimes which obtain ready social condemnation but we believe that these are severally eclipsed by the iniquity we have been discussing. In this list we unhesitatingly place Intemperance, Theaters, all species of Gambling, Highway robbery, Polygamy, Homicide, public Prostitution and our late system of Slavery. We have not space to now fully discuss these perfectly defensible propositions, and will therefore only illustrate the other crimes. The key to the argument lies in the fact that murder of this form outweighs all others because it is murder. Homicide is no exception, for it is an insidious crime which implicates so many thousands of mothers who could not be induced to otherwise wrong the child which they so unhesitatingly kill: while homicide is confined to comparatively few professional scamps, or hasty men.

Foeticide seems to have been first employed to conceal the shame of fallen women. These received such treatment from the hands of quacks, that, as a mitigation, infanticide proper was resorted to. The onus of social condemnation and all legal prohibition upon these poor unfortunates attached to both forms of their guilty child-murder and not upon their lapse from Virtue, but at present, foeticide is practiced by the married to a far greater extent than by the unmarried. Dr. Kyle, quoted by Dr. Reamy (p. 1), among thirty-seven cases of criminal abortion found thirty-four married and seven unmarried. Dr. Storer gives the ratio of nine in wedlock to one out. Dr. Reamy (p. 7) touches our argument when he says:

“Criminal prosecutions for abortions procured upon unmarried females for concealing shame, murder of the new born infant, by neglect or otherwise, for the same purposes, &c. must all cease, unless abortions among married women for convenience can be brought to an end. I can see no propriety in continuing any jurisprudence over the subject at all, unless community is relieved of the demoralizing efforts of this crime; it would soon be difficult to find a jury that would convict even in the clearest case.”

We certainly are not apt to be influenced to make a distinction between the two classes of criminals by the fact that fallen females find their most unrelenting, insatiate and persistent persecutors among their own sex. Law restrains the one class—but the crimes of the married render that law nugatory, thus directly encouraging the lapses of the first class. We must let the one go untouched or else prosecute, imprison or, if necessary, hang the wedded murderer.

We are accustomed to call public prostitution, “The Social Evil,” but this form of vice, of which New York City with her 2,574 public prostitutes and over 36,000 cases of venereal disease in 1866, is representative, is not near so demoralizing as foeticide. The former is outlawed, while the latter owes its greater and increasing iniquity and insidious danger to the very fact that it is not outlawed.

Polygamy is an outrage upon civilization and Christianity because of it plurality of wives. These wives are often esteemed among Mormons in proportion to the number of children they bear. Mrs Waite, in her “Mormon Prophet” says, “the title of mother includes that of ‘Queen’ consequently the highest distinction.” Stike the balance between polygamous plurality of wives and the extinction of the plurality of children, and where is the onus of iniquity?

The murder of born children is increasing, as is amply proved by our daily papers. Foeticide, according to the quotation already made, “is a practical approval of infanticide,” and thus we are enabled to read our daily papers without the trouble of further wonder.

Homicide, too, is increasing, greatly on account of the same underestimate of the value of human life. From this underestimate, when the murderer is arraigned and convicted, the jury recommend her* to mercy, the judge sentences to one year of imprisonment, the Governor pardons, the influence of the whole farce reacts in a geometrical ratio upon the entire race of scamps, and—the papers speedily report “another murder.”

*Mollie Trammell, the Chicago Cyprian Murderer.

There is one more consideration bearing upon this relation of Foeticide to Homicide. It is conceded that mental traits are transmissible. Even mental habitudes and tense emotion of the mother during gestation are transmissible to her child as permanent mental tendencies or moral susceptibilities in character. Not all attempts at criminal abortion are successful. Now during the period of gestation meditated murder was in that unsuccessful mother’s mind, not only a habitude but an intense emotion, and these may be transmitted to her child who may some day appear in court as a murderer, and throw mild, unsophisticated philanthropists into wonderment “why crime is so rapidly increasing.”

The question of rapidly increasing divorces is an important one and we believe that it is very often intimately related to the one named at the head of this article. In a given family, both parents, or only one my advocate foeticide. If one, discord is inevitable, for the dissenting parent may be unable to perceive the difference between the parent who for convenience’s sake kills the child, and the child who for any unjustifiable cause kills its parent. One parent’s natural love for little children may be brought into direct antagonism with the foeticidal dislike of the other and from this disturbance of the very design of the marriage relation, discord must result—and divorce is made easy.

The primary causes of, and the proper measures for correcting this national tendency to Foeticide are important topics which must be reserved from this article. We cannot, however, refrain from indicating and condemning a potent agency—a newspaper whose satanic advertisements of quack nostrums and quack doctors further this fearful Evil, should be treated as a social Enemy, and its unscrupulous publishers be socially outlawed.

Quack Doctors, Irregular Practitioners and the whole race of vagrant female hyenas who will take foetal life for fifty dollars and gratuitously kill or ruin the credulous wife or “unfortunate,” should be treated as pests to be “purified by fire,” if necessary. The odor of such a burnt offering would be more grateful than their offenses which smell to Heaven.

Don’t fear chaste, open discussion, even with such young persons as you are entitled to instruct. The plain, vital truth of a delicate but inevitable subject is far more pure than the uninstructed devices of the human heart. “The Truth shall make you free” of the evil which is working such calamitous results.

The Methodist Church may, or may not, be involved—but her past agency in breasting all waves of iniquity is a matter of history and that future agency will be equally sure. Pulpit and Press must echo the cry until the cry is heeded. We would be glad to soon see a small, compact, inexpensive tract upon the topic come from our presses and be distributed by multiplied thousands for the instruction of our Methodist millions.

We gratefully acknowledge our obligations to Doctors W. H. Byford, N. S. Davis, J. S. Jewell and E. O. F. Roler and others of Chicago, and to Doctors H. R. Storer, of Boston, T. A. Reamy, of Zanesville, Morse Stewart, of Detroit, and others. The kind words or letters of encouragement, and the documents furnished us have proved vitally important to this extended paper. “Why Not?” by Dr. Storer, we especially commend.