Abortion Fiction: Part 3 – Abortion Policy in Colonial America

In this episode we continue to respond to John Irving’s article from the New York Times that attempts to prove that the pro-life idea that human life from conception deserves not to be killed is a recent innovation in the United States. Irving attempts to argue that early colonial America was friendly to abortion during the time of the Puritans.

We examine this premise by doing what Irving doesn’t do in his article–prove his assertion by actually citing sources. We look at three court records from colonial America that prove that abortion before “quickening” was still considered “murder” and a felony. Then, we ask the questions about why abortifacient advertisements seemed to abound in the early 1800’s.

Sources Cited:

“The Long, Cruel History of the Anti-Abortion Crusade”https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/23/opinion/anti-abortion-history.html

“Did Colonial America have abortions? Yes, but…”https://world.wng.org/2015/01/did_colonial_america_have_abortions_yes_but

Judicial and Testamentary Business of the Provincial Court, 1637-1683: 1679-1680https://books.google.com/books?id=OJMwAQAAMAAJ

“19th-Century Classified Ads for Abortifacients and Contraceptives”https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/08/history-of-contraception-19th-century-classified-ads-for-abortifacients-and-contraceptives.amp