April 21, 1978


Author Affiliations

University of California at Los Angeles Los Angeles


by Malcolm Potts, Peter Diggory, and John Peel, 575 pp, 56 illus, $37.50, paper $10.50, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1977.

JAMA. 1978;239(16):1665. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280430081025

Abortion is not just another book on abortion. This scholarly, well-documented treatise comprehensively details the medical, sociological, epidemiologic, and political aspects of the subject and succeeds in provocatively placing abortion with those factors that have profoundly affected world history.

The differences in income per capita, education, literacy and female employment that characterize socio-economic advance are dependent on a reduction in achieved family size. No society has made such an adjustment without significant recourse to abortion—whether legal or illegal. Induced abortion has been and is an intrinsic element in social progress.

With this hypothesis as a background, the authors are at least sympathetic to the pre-reform illegal abortionists whom they regard as having performed a service demanded by a hypocritical society. They note that one of the major advances in abortion technique and equipment, the Karman curette for vacuum aspiration, was in fact developed by an illegal abortionist. However, as legal