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June 17, 1983

Abortion Legislation-Reply

Author Affiliations

Tulsa, Okla

JAMA. 1983;249(23):3174. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330470015011

In Reply.—  Dr Charles Winterling raises two objections to my reference to the 1859 AMA resolution condemning abortion.First, he states that the physicians involved in the effort against abortion in the 19th century were motivated by a desire "to protect the status of women as much as for any other reason" and cites the risks of surgery in that era. We all hope that then, as now, physicians were concerned with the loss of maternal lives through abortion. However, a careful reading of the 1859 report of the AMA committee that investigated the subject for two years reveals only one short sentence referring to the protection of women.1The report, in fact, advises the AMA to "publicly express its abhorrence of the unnatural and now rapidly increasing crime of abortion; that it avow its true nature, as no simple offence against public morality and decency, no mere misdemeanor, no