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I use the words in their legal sense, viz, the effecting of the unlawful expulsion of the contents of the womb at any time after conception before the term of gestation is complete. The very old English law made a distinction between the crime perpetrated before and after quickening. The rulings of the supreme court of several of the American States corresponded with the old English law which was abolished a half century, more or less, ago. The Pennsylvania court was one of the first to discard the old doctrine and the courts of many of the other States have progressively fallen into line, and have ruled that it is a crime to destroy embryo life after gestation has begun. Judge Coulter, of Pennsylvania, ruled that "it is not the murder of a living child which constitutes the offence, but the destruction of gestation." An attempt by a physician or
McCOLLOM W. CRIMINAL ABORTION. JAMA. 1896;XXVI(6):257–259. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430580009001c
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