To Bring Down the Flowers: The Cultural Context of Abortion Law in Early Modern England
39 Pages Posted: 13 May 2008 Last revised: 10 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2007
This article takes issue with claims made by Joseph Dellapenna in his 2006 book, Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History, which claims to correct the distortions of the history of abortion law underlying Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Dellapenna argues that, contrary to Justice Blackmun's historic analysis in Roe, abortion was considered a serious crime throughout most of European history and that courts did...punish abortions before quickening during the Middle Ages. This article shows that Dellapenna's argument relies on serious misreading of cases and ignorance of the relevant historical, medical and cultural context, and that pre-quickening or intra-marital self induced abortion was of little concern to the law.
Keywords: abortion, legal history, early modern, women, gender
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