By Kristin Luker
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Additional info for Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood
The public did not consider the embryo "not alive" in the biological sense, as the anti-abortion physicians asserted. Rather, public (and much medical) opinion seems to have been that embryos were, morally speaking, simply not as alive as the mother, at least until quickening—and sometimes later than that, if Burns did not disapprove of all abortions (and neither did his colleagues later in the century, as I shall show). This same passage continues: I do not, however, wish from this observation, to be understood as in any way disapproving of those necessary attempts which are occasionally made to procure premature labor, or even abortion, when the safety of the mother demands this interference, or when we can thus give the child a chance of living, who otherwise would have none.
Although the Oath also forbids surgery ("I will not use the knife . "), American regulars chose to conveniently overlook that part. Thus, it is more likely that the regulars opposed abortion not because the Oath did but rather because both their opposition to abortion and their adoption of the Hippocratic Oath were simultaneous aspects of their attempts to professionalize. 48 More broadly, Mohr argues that nineteenth-century physicians had a firm ideological belief that abortion was in fact murder.
Product of such progress. Finally, it may be argued that until the level of scientific progress is dramatically higher than it was during the nineteenth century, the ordinary consumer cannot differentiate between a "scientific" practitioner and a folk healer. 58 By the middle of the nineteenth century, therefore, American physicians had few if any of the formal attributes of a profession. The pre- MEDICINE AND MORALITY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 31 dominance of proprietary medical schools combined with the virtual absence of any form of licensing meant that the regulars could control neither entry into the profession nor the performance of those who claimed healing capacities.
Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood by Kristin Luker