Abortion (1500-1900)

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Quotes on Abortion that were recorded between 1500 AD and 1900 AD are listed in order of date, with quotes from the same date listed in alphabetical order according to the name of the speaker.

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  • With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life, from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and, in some cases, from every degree of danger.
    • James Wilson, "Of the Natural Rights of Individuals" (1790-1792). Wilson was a leading framer of the U.S. Constitution.


  • Women...sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection...either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast if off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.
  • (This) subject lies deeper down in woman’s wrongs than any other...I hesitate not to assert that most of (the responsibility for) this crime lies at the door of the male sex.
    • Matilda Gage, early feminist, in The Revolution (April 9, 1868).


  • Infanticide is on the increase to an extent inconceivable. Nor is it confined to the cities by any means. Androscoggin County in Maine is largely a rural district, but a recent Medical Convention there unfolded a fearful condition of society in relation to this subject. Dr. Oaks made the remark that, according to the best estimate he could make, there were four hundred murders annually produced by abortion in that county alone....There must be a remedy for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of woman? Forced maternity, not out of legal marriage but within it, must lie at the bottom of a vast proportion of such revolting outrages against the laws of nature and our common humanity.


  • All the articles on this subject that I have read have been from men. They denounce women as alone guilty, and never include man in any plans for the remedy. . . Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed [abortion]. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!
    • "A.", The Revolution.(August 8, 1869). This quote has been attributed to Susan B. Anthony, but there is no data to support the idea that she wrote it, or that she ever used "A." to refer to herself [1].


  • We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil [abortion]...It is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed.
    • "A.", The Revolution (August 8, 1869).This quote has been attributed to Susan B. Anthony, but there is no data to support the idea that she wrote it, or that she ever used "A." to refer to herself[2].


  • When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society. So when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.
    • Mattie Brinkerhoff, women's suffrage movement leader, in The Revolution (September 2, 1869).[3].


  • Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned...Is there no remedy for all this ante-natal child murder?...Perhaps there will come a time when...an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood...and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with.


  • The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the foetus.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly (December 24, 1870).


  • Abortion is also a practice which spreads damnation world-wide. . . When a woman becomes conscious that she is pregnant, and a desire comes up in her heart to shirk the duties it involves, that moment the fetal life is the unloved, the unwished child. Is it to be wondered at that there are so many undutiful children--so many who instinctively feel that they are "encumbrances" rather than the beautiful necessities of the home? What true mother's heart but bounds with pride and joy when she sees the beauteous results of her constructive work? Why should she not also feel happiness when she realizes that she is performing that constructive process? Is it to be wondered at that so many children lacking all confidence in themselves and so foolishly diffident that it follows them through life, when we consider the conduct of women during pregnancy? It should be the pride of every woman to be the willing, the anxious, the contented mother, and if she be so under the guidance of the knowledge we deem essential, she will never have cause to regret that she fulfilled the duties of maternity. All practices which degenerate the character of children should be discountenanced by every humanitarian, and women encouraged to wisely and perfectly mold and fashion the life which they shall give to the world.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in a speech to the American Association of Spiritualists (September 13, 1871).


  • I wish to say my word on the theme of the day — Abortion and the Abortionists. . . Abortion [is]one of the fixed institutions of the country, one of the marked characteristics of the age, one of the indicative symptoms of the ripening and the rottening of our prevalent state of society! Who proposes to disturb Madame Restel [underground abortion practitioner]? Who really wants that there should be no opportunity to secure an abortion under peculiarly trying circumstances? . . . But the great revenue of these practitioners is from the married women among the wealthy. They have become unfit to have children, and abortion is the sewerage for this wretched stagnation of feminine life. . . . Abortion before marriage and especially after marriage are the rule rather than the exception—in the wealthy and fashionable classes, and to a great extent among workingwomen who say they 'can’t afford to have children'. . . Abortion is only a symptom of a more deep-seated disorder of the social state. It cannot be put down by law. Normally the mother of ten children is as healthy, and may be as youthful and beautiful, as a healthy maiden. Child-bearing is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature. But to our faded-out, sickly, exhausted type of women, it is a fearful ordeal. Nearly every child born is an unwelcome guest. Abortion is the choice of evils for such women.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly (September 23, 1871).


  • Whoever has read the WEEKLY knows I hold abortion (except to save the life of the mother) to be just as much murder as the killing of a person after birth is murder.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly (December 2, 1871).
  • When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women's suffrage movement leader, in a letter to Julia Ward Howe recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library (October 16, 1873).


  • We are aware that many women attempt to excuse themselves for procuring abortions, upon the ground that it is not murder. But the fact of resort to so weak an argument only shows the more palpably that they fully realize the enormity of the crime. Is it not equally destroying the would-be future oak to crush the sprout before it pushes its head above the sod, as to cut down the sapling, or cut down the tree? Is it not equally to destroy life, to crush it in the very germ, and to take it when the germ has evolved to any given point in its line of development?
    • Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly (June 20, 1874).


  • Men must no longer insult all womanhood by saying that freedom means the degradation of woman. Every woman knows if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in The Evening Standard (Wheeling, WV) (November 17, 1875).