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June 17, 1983

Abortion Legislation

Author Affiliations

Concord, NH

JAMA. 1983;249(23):3173-3174. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330470015010

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To the Editor.—  I have one more comment to add to the spate of letters regarding the article, "Abortion Legislation: Implications for Medicine" (1982;248:833). Dr Phyllis Lauinger states in her letter (1983;249:472) that the American Medical Association adopted a resolution condemning abortion at every period of gestation in 1859. This was the culmination of a much earlier move by numerous state medical associations, starting with the New York Medical Association, to outlaw abortions. The motivation of these physicians was much more than the simple "unjustifiable destruction of human life" that Dr Lauinger mentioned. In those days, abortion was an entirely different problem than today. Pregnancies were diagnosed with certainty at a much later period of gestation, and anesthesia was either unknown or risky; the very concepts of antisepsis were largely unknown, and antibiotic therapy was not even a dream. Surgical techniques were crude and equipment limited. Morbidity and mortality statistics