Thursday, November 30, 2017

An 18th Century Poem On Miscarriage

I will follow up the blogpost on the 18th century poem on abortion with the 18 century poem on miscarriage. It was published in the November 1787 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine in London. No author was listed.

Untimely sever'd from its mother's womb,
Behold a foetus in its liquid tomb.
Let those who beauty, valour, wisdom prize,
See from whence beauty, valour, wisdom arise;
The little embryo of a future king
Must grow to power from so small a thing.
Whether to float in spirits, or to reign,
Depends at last but on a mother's strain;
Nor does the wreck of life more beauteous shew,
Dissect a belle, anatomise a beaux,
The rattling bones, beside the foetus plac'd,
Those rattling bones, which erst a ball-room grac'd, -
The sad remains of what was call'd divine,
Perhaps descended from a royal line;
If free in choice, which hadst thou rather been,
This still-born foetus, or that wretched queen,
To live in pain, with anxious cares oppress'd
By turns exulting, and by turns distress’d;
The sport of fortune, or the but of fate,
 A slave to folly or a tool of state?
Or say, when all the ills of life you view,
My dearest partner, now I turn to you,
Dost thou not envy this embryo's state,
Deriving pleasure from his certain fate?
It broke a fibre from thy womb to part,
But had it liv'd, it might have broke thy heart.
Let us this maxim in our minds instil,

Whatever Heaven does, cannot be ill.

Monday, November 27, 2017

18th Century Poem Expresses Abortion Regret

The following poem was published in the January 1740 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine in London. No author is listed.

* On a Child killed by procured Abortion, in order to hide the Mother's Shame who had been debauched. Supposed to be spoken by the Mother. 

Thou! whose eyes were clos'd in death's pale night,
Ere fate reveal’d thee to my aching fight;
Ambiguous something, by no standard fix’d,
Frail span!  of nought, and of existence mix’d;
Embryo, imperfect as my tort’ring thought,
Sad outcast of existence and of nought;
Thou, who to guilty love first ow'st thy frame,
Whom guilty honour kills to hide its shame,
Dire offspring!  form'd by love's too pleasing pow'r!
Honour's dire victim in a luckless hour!
 Soften the pangs that still revenge thy doom:
Nor, from the dark abyss of nature's womb,
Where back I cast thee, let revolving time
Call up past scenes to aggravate my crime.
Two adverse tyrants rul’d thy wayward fate,
Thyself a helpless victim to their hate;
Love, in spite of honour's dictates, gave thee breath;
Honour, in spite of love, pronounc'd thy death.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Early 20th Century: The Fetus was Unknown Because Pregnancy was Censored...

So I have been busy doing some historical research. I just got back a paper I wrote on fetal imagery—specifically Lennart Nilsson’s photoessay in an April 1965 issue of Life magazine. One thing that I learned that was very surprising to me was the degree to which pregnancy—and by extension the unborn—had little visual presence in the first half of the twentieth century. I was very surprised when I realized the degree to which all things having to do with pregnancy was shrouded in secrecy. Two examples to illustrate:

Saturday, September 30, 2017

China to Give Property Rights to Fetuses

A new Civil Code goes into effect October 1, 2017 in China. 

In this new civil code, the unborn will, for legal purposes, be counted as born for purposes of succession and gifts. However, there's a catch: they must not be born dead. Still, the Chinese code is a step above the Canadian system.

In Canada, the unborn must be born first before they can legally recognized for events that occurred before their birth. This is known as the "born-alive rule." This is not the case in China. In China an unborn baby may inherit and would be considered the legal heir throughout the pregnancy, so long as he does not die. If he dies before birth, he loses his legal rights. I suppose this was done to protect the legality of abortion.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

VIDEO: Davenport Hooker's Fetal Experiments

In the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's anatomist Davenport Hooker filmed a number of fetuses produced from induced and spontaneous abortions to document fetal behaviour. They were aged between 8.5 and 14 weeks (LMP). It represents the first time in history that the unborn were seen on film. They were dying of course, but they were not quite dead when Hooker had them poked and prodded for science. The explanations in the video are little bit tedious, but the images are well worth waiting for (they start at about the three minute mark.) I would not put too much stock in the menstrual age-- it can be unreliable. I was especially struck by the older children, and how bothered they seemed to be by the needle.