Dangers of Abortion in Angus McLaren's Article 'Illegal Operations: Women, Doctors and Abortion'

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Dangers of Abortion in Angus McLaren's Article 'Illegal Operations: Women, Doctors and Abortion'

Angus McLaren, author of “Illegal Operations: Women, Doctors, and Abortion” demonstrates the life of an abortionist in the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. McLaren explains a series of affairs in detail with many different abortionists. Since abortion was illegal at the time, many women consulted midwives, or took the procedure of abortion among themselves, this at times resulted in their death.

The articles purpose is to use legal sources to explore the decision to abort while the state, and the professions took a serious interest in the fertility control decisions of women. What is being argued is the fate of women burdened with unwanted
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Because methods of contraception were expensive and not readily accessible, many pregnancies were unwanted. Therefore women used these excuses as their defence.

It is clear by reviewing the article that the author is very much concerned with the well-being of women at this particular time. She mentions that some “doctors showed themselves more interested in protecting themselves than in caring for their patient.” McLaren also goes into detail with examples to show how the doctors would threaten their patients. Like for instance, Stewart Murrow threatened his dying patient Jennie Young that he would not treat her for septic poisoning if she didn’t name the person who performed the operation. Another case is the Sarah Robins affair where she was stimulated with drugs so as to declare the person who performed the operation. Some doctors saw themselves as the authorities. If a woman were dying in a hospital as the result of a bungled abortion, a statement was taken if only to protect the doctor and the hospital staff. This is why McLaren feels it wasn’t fair for women that doctors were too concerned for their reputation rather than the women who needed their help. McLaren also argues that methods of contraception were very expensive, for example the condom.

The author supports her argument by providing a detailed description of factual cases that occurred during the

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