So much has been said and written in regard to this crime, that it would seem as if ignorance upon so vital a subject could not exist in our favored land. Still I find everywhere views held and repeated in neighborhoods and communities, which are as false as they are pernicious in their influence. Voluntary abortion is murder, and, more often than is known, the murderer takes the life of two victims, that of the unfortunate mother as well as the child. So great a crime is it, so disastrous to the soul and body of the mother, aside from the sin against God and her child, that I would not, could not, cause abortion in case of my own daughters to save them from shame —not even at six weeks of foetal life. I could bow my head in anguish with them; I could help them rear and care for an illegitimate child, — but must not put upon them or take upon myself the guilt of murder. The humblest, poorest human life has as inviolate claim to existence as our own. Our great Creator is as surely the avenger of those who kill the maimed, the helpless, the hapless, the imbecile, and degraded, as of the most favored ones of our vast brotherhood. All physicians know of many methods of destroying the child before its birth, but no one of more than a score of methods is safe, even in the hands of the skilled surgeon. The laws of all our States, so far as I am acquainted, and those of many European countries, forbid this crime, visiting severe penalties upon those convicted of this form of mur der. In our own State the open deliberate council of two physicians of known good standing, and the concurrence of opinion that the safety of the mother's life demands the sacrifice of the child, and that she can be saved in no other way, alone renders the act legal. No physician is worthy his trust, nor can he maintain himself against a clearly proved case of infanticide, unless he has observed this law. In innumerable cases the question has been asked me, " What harm can it do to bring on the menstrual illness in pregnancy, when there is no life?" Here lies a vital error, for the soul given from the souls of both parents is the life, the real being, who is shap ing for itself, in its hiding-place, a body, its wonder ful earthly habitation. No skill or painstaking of
the parents could ever execute the work of the immortal living artist, who, if unharmed, is, day by day, fashioning with unerring precision a temple fit for the indwelling of Deity. If life does not exist in the first hour of conception, it never will, and from that time we have no more right to destroy it than we have our own life, or that of our neighbor. Mothers bear a hallowed trust, which should be hon ored in every thought from the first moment they are conscious of pregnancy, and whatever may be their circumstances of sorrow or gladness, none should fail to seek divine help to keep them from such a crime.
There are ten risks of death and subsequent disease in abortion, where there is one in pregnancy at full term and delivery, with ordinary good care. In the case of several thousand patients suffering with the varying ailments belonging more particularly to women, I have never seen one who had suffered from abortion or miscarriage, where the intra-uterine membranes were not left in a sore, abraded state. This raw surface not only causes rrhage or excessive loss of blood, but becomes the centre for the development of serious ulcerations, polypoid and fibroid growths, and such scrofulous or cancerous affections as the patient might have a constitutional predisposition to develop. I must not forget to mention one serious result of the evil under consideration, the more harmful be cause so hidden. It is a slowly increasing engorge ment and hardening or induration of the uterus, in consequence of the internal inflammation, with mor bid deposit, which, after long years, most likely at the menopause, crops out into active and fatal forms of disease.