By Kristin Luker
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Additional info for Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood
From the earliest days of the medical profession in this country, therefore, physicians wanted effective licensing laws that would do for them what the guild structures had done for their European colleagues, namely, restrict the competition. '5 In the early part of the nineteenth century, the fate of trained physicians became even worse. What few regulations had existed in the colonial period were swept away in the era of Jacksonian democracy, and medical practice became one vast free market. Moreover, during the second quarter of the century, deep doctrinal divisions appeared within the ranks of trained physicians themselves.
Similarly, they did not specify the confidence level needed. Must the pregnancy be an unquestionable threat to maternal life, or could the threat be only probable? 64 There is further evidence that physicians wanted to create a category of "justifiable" abortion and to make themselves the custodians of it. Some anti-abortion physicians actually opposed legislative attempts to tighten or spell out what exactly was entailed in the therapeutic exception. Even some of the most ardent anti-abortion activists tended to feel, on balance, that it was better to tolerate some abuse in the practice of abortion than to put too tight a rein on the medical profession.
210. 26 MEDICINE AND MORALITY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY the pregnancy threatened the life of the woman. Indeed, the same home medical book that contained the detailed descriptions of intrauterine life noted earlier had this to say about uterine hemorrhage or "flooding": When the flooding returns, in great degree, in spite of all efforts to prevent [it], the women becoming extremely pallid, showing excessive loss of blood, but one remedy is left, and that is to produce an immediate abortion. Unless the danger be very pressing, the advice or direction of a physician should be taken before the destruction of the child.