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Abortion

• But for such complications the change of lire would bring little to fear, it being the presence of local or general disease that makes it perilous. There are other results of abortion rarely attributed to their real cause. I refer to the after-effects upon the nervous system. I have known paralytic symp toms, more or less marked, to show themselves ever after; other instances where the pulse never again beat naturally; others where the sense of weariness was never afterwards lost; others where any sudden disturbance, mental or physical, would bring an uncontrollable sense of faintness and exhaustion. All physicians concur in the opinion that a few mis carriages result in more constitutional depression, and actual wear and tear, than frequent—even annual— pregnancy. No wife or mother should be subject to either burden, — abortion, or too frequent child bearing. I have never known more frightful or more certainly fatal hmmorrhages than those some times occurring in the loss of an embryo of six weeks. Cases of death reported from syncope, embolism of the heart, peritonitis, haemorrhage, inflammation of the bowels, and convulsions, may, and not do, have their origin in abortion. The more difficult the accomplishment of the wrong, the more vio lent the shock to the whole vital economy. No one but the physician having the care of patients who are suffering from the results of infanticide can under stand what a host of evil consequences stand ready to avenge any wrong done to the child from the first hour of intra-uterine life.

• An instance or two may better illustrate the truths I have stated. A young wife and mother, twenty-six years of age, came under my care for medical treat ment. Her well-formed physique seemed built for a vigorous mental and physical life, and she had an unusual inheritance of longevity and vitality. Two of her grandparents had lived to be more than ninety years of age, two more than eighty years. Her youth had been joyous and healthful; the diseases of childhood and passing epidemics having touched her lightly, she bad hardly known what sickness meant. This early history was a sad contrast to the restless and haggard appearance she now carried. She was married at eighteen, and became a mother a year later, and, being fond of amusement and gayeties, maternity was a disappointment she could not brook. She had known but little of the pleasures of society, and declared that she could not and would not be a mother again until she choose. Her little boy was bright, vigorous, and healthful, as strong in physique as in self-will.

Before she was twenty-one she was again enceinte. She besieged her husband for aid, and they went to their physician, who, after the most urgent appeals, resorted to one of the measures of child murder, and accomplished her desire. There was a favorable

restoration, and no danger that she realized. During the three years following she passed through the second and third experience of this kind, each recov ery being a little less favorable than the preceding one, although the fine constitution bore the strain remarkably well. The fourth experiment, though skilfully conducted, proved serious, and from the fifth she barely escaped with her life, but with the fixed conviction that she dare not repeat the crime under any circumstances. One year after this time she came under my care, and I have never met with an instance where an almost perfect constitution was more thoroughly shattered at so early an age from any cause aside from the haunts of vice. The ner vous system was broken to childishness, the vital stamina gone forever, and a discouragingly con?pli cated condition of disease affecting the uterus and other pelvic organs. In cases like the one we have narrated, only partial restoration is possible, for the cure of the uterine affections does not restore the shattered nervous system, and to make the best of what remains is all that is left to hope for the unfor tunate sufferer. This lady, with due reasonable care, might have borne a dozen children, with two or three years' intervals, given them all her good organization and faithful mother care, and passed the climacteric period of her life to old age, rich in health and hap piness. Who can estimate the value of the sacrifice she made? A year since, a young married lady, whom I had known from childhood, the mother of two healthful children, consulted me. She had passed a delicate girlhood, but good care, marriage, and favorable maternity had made the best of her stock of latent vitality, and she had grown stronger and more healthful as the years passed. She was so changed I did not recognize her as she first greeted me, for she seemed scarcely more than a shadow of what I had seen her three years before. The pinched features, and the extreme pallor from loss of blood, caused by granular ulceration of the intra-uterine surfaces, were painful to see. Her nerves were so weak that she trembled upon the least excitement, fainted at the slightest pain, and was exhausted with even the feeble muscular exertion she was capable of making. A marked indication of the approach' of creeping paralysis upon the left side, with the other symptoms, gave evidence of nervous shock or de pression which had touched the very centres of life. She confided to. me the fact, so clearly already declared by her symptoms, that abortion, induced by surgical measures at ten weeks of pregnancy, had been the beginning of her present train of symptoms, about a year before. She did not know that she was dangerously ill at the time, but had never regained her strength.

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