left biblioblography: THE QUICKENING

Thursday, October 12, 2006

THE QUICKENING

No, it’s not the latest B-movie/penny-dreadful novel from Bantam, nor is this a Highlander reference (the TV show was a bit of all right, the first movie rocked, the last one sucked the big hairy bird).

This is actually a very old phrase, which the Medical dictionary defines as: “The initial signs of fetal life felt by the mother as a result of the movements by the fetus.” It was also the yardstick by which it was determined as to whether or not an abortion was permissable.

You see, contrary to the misconceptions among the religious right activists here in the 21st CE, the abortion ‘industry’ wasn’t born squalling and mewling from the loins of Roe vs. Wade (Sorry for the rude metaphor, but had to make the point), nor was it invented by the ‘godless heathens’. Instead, it’s been a common procedure since time immemorial.


From here:

“Modern (17th-century to present)
Nineteenth century medicine saw advances in the fields of surgery, anaesthesia, and sanitation, in the same era that doctors with the American Medical Association lobbied for bans on abortion in the United States [17] and the British Parliament passed the Offences Against the Person Act.
Various methods of abortion were documented regionally in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After a rash of unexplained miscarriages in Sheffield, England, were attributed to lead poisoning caused by the metal pipes which fed the city's water supply, a woman confessed to having used diachylon — a lead-containing plaster — as an abortifacient in 1898. [13] Criminal investigation of an abortionist in Calgary, Alberta in 1894 revealed through chemical analysis that the concotion he had supplied to a man seeking an abortifacient contained Spanish fly. [18] Women of Jewish descent in Lower East Side, Manhattan are said to have carried the ancient Indian practice of sitting over a pot of steam into the early 20th century. [12] Dr. Evelyn Fisher wrote of how women living in a mining town in Wales during the 1920s used candles intended for Roman Catholic ceremonies to dilate the cervix in an effort to self-induce abortion. [13] Similarly, the use of candles and other objects, such as glass rods, penholders, curling irons, spoons, sticks, knives, and catheters was reported during the 19th-century in the United States. [19]
A paper published in 1870 on the abortion services to be found in Syracuse, New York, concluded that the method most often practiced there during this time was to flush inside of the uterus with injected water. The article's author, Ely Van de Warkle, claimed this procedure was affordable even to a maid, as a man in town offered it for $10 on an installment plan. [20] Other prices which 19th-century abortionists are reported to have charged were much more steep. In Great Britain, it could cost from 10 to 50 guineas, or 5% of the yearly income of a lower middle class household. [13]
Māori who lived in New Zealand before or at the time of colonisation terminated pregnancies via miscarriage-inducing drugs, ceremonial methods, and girding of the abdomen with a restrictive belt. [21] Another source claims that the Māori people did not practice abortion, for fear of Makutu, but did attempt feticide through the artificial induction of premature labor. [22]
The 20th century saw improvements in abortion technology, increasing its safety, and reducing its side-effects. In 1971, Lorraine Rothman, a founding member of the feminist self-help movement, invented the Del-Em, a safe, cheap suction device that made it possible for people with minimal training to perform early abortions. In 1980, French researchers developed mifepristone (RU-486), a drug which induces abortion by blocking hormone action.”

And from here, courtesy of the Daily Kos:

“Few influenced the perspective of the early church more than Aristotle, and the Aristotelean view of the soul in the unborn was the "delayed ensoulment" - that is, the fetus isn't animated with a human soul until 40 days after conception for males, 90 days for females - both having a vegetable soul before then. In fact, there are early Greek texts and advice on how to perform abortion, so this is the history that Aristotle's views emerged from and which informed early Christian thinking.”Hmmm…why the 50-day time lapse? Onwards.

“When the Church became more organized, opinions started changing. As a theological narrative took shape in th mid 2nd Century into the 4th, more Christian thinkers began to equate abortion with infanticide. St. John Chrysostom called it "murder before the birth" (Homily 24 on Romans). Worth noting here is that thinkers like St. Jerome (infamous for, among other things, blaming women for the fall from grace) and St John Chrysostom (women are "a necessary evil") are also responsible for hardwiring some of the most disturbingly anti-woman theology into early Christianity - presenting women as something other than human, and sexuality as evil, or at least the pathway to evil. It's no coincidence that, even at this early date, anti-choice extremism goes hand-in-hand with misogyny. Still even Jerome - while saying some of the most awful garbage about women in recorded history, was not as hardcore about abortion as today's Religious Right, writing "The seed gradually takes shape in the uterus, and it [abortion] does not count as killing until the individual elements have acquired their external appearance and their limbs ("Epistle" (121, 4))"
Neither were early church organizational meetings unanimous. The Synods of Elvira and Ancyra (306 ACE, 314 ACE) explicitly called abortion a sin, while the Apostolic Constitutions (380 ACE) disallowed it only after the fetus took on a "human shape."”
(Snip)
“In the early 7th Century, the Church began codifying what it considered sexual sins and abortion made the list, but was well behind the "sins" of birth control, oral sex, and anal sex. In fact, the punishment for oral sex was at least 7 years of penance, while the punishment for abortion was a mere 120 days.”
(Snip)
“Even St. Thomas Aquinas himself - arguably the most influential theologian in Roman Catholic Christianity, did not consider a fetus human until the quickening.
This was the way it was for the most part until - and are you sitting down for this? - 1869. That's when Pope Pius IX declared all abortion to be homicide. That's right, for nearly the entire history of Christianity, the Catholic Church was officially tolerant of first trimester abortion. The change was well after the Enlightenment, after the Civil War, and into the modern scientific era. In fact, it was only as recently as 1983 that all vestiges of the distinction between the "fetus animatus" and "fetus inanimatus" were quietly purged from Canon Law. (Yes, that was 1983... only 23 years ago)”
(End snip)

[Minor note: in accordance with the link given below, it was 1917 and 1983 – it’s unclear at this juncture, which was purged first.]

And there’s more info here, for those interested.

So there you have it. It’s not quite as cut-and-dried as the fanatics would have it. There really isn’t any ‘burden of guilt’ to be had – the legislation clearly echoes Aristotle down from the ages. For the most part, I’m surprised to find myself agreeing with Thomas Aquinas of all people (at least about the quickening stage) about this subject.

And so again, I reiterate my personal stand: I’m pro-choice and pro-life – the woman gets the choice, but let’s keep it legal, safe, and rare.

Or, to echo two women I hold in high esteem:
"The preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of the anti-abortion forces; what they want is control. Control over behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want to share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood, their own rights and responsibilities."- Ursula K. Le Guin

"The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control." - Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Till the next post, then.

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14 comments:

Vile Blasphemer said...

Ka, you really are inexhaustive.

Not to be off topic or anything, but I want to make sure my link to you doesn't misrepresent- you are holding a jian in that photo, are you not?

aus blog said...

World estimations of the number of terminations carried out each year is somewhere between 20 and 88 million.

3,500 per day / 1.3 million per year in America alone.

50% of that 1.3 million claimed failed birth control was to blame.

A further 48% had failed to use any birth control at all.

And 2% had medical reasons.

That means a stagering 98% may have been avoided had an effective birth control been used.


Bill Clinton once said that abortions should be available , safe and RARE. He is a very wise man.

I'd like to see an ultrasound in every clinnic to provide a more informed choice before going through with something they may regret.

I'd also like to see birth control made available to all who can't afford it.

Krystalline Apostate said...

VB:
Ka, you really are inexhaustive.
Comes of eating right, & exercising constantly. Physically as well as mentally.;)
Of course, if I was working more, I'd have less time.
Not to be off topic or anything, but I want to make sure my link to you doesn't misrepresent- you are holding a jian in that photo, are you not?
Yes it is, & very sharp of you to notice that, mein freund. My own family sends me ebay links about katana (I maintain I inherited the brains in the family, hehehehe).

Krystalline Apostate said...

aus blog:
Those are very interesting figures, might I prevail upon you to back those figures up?
I might also add, that I am 4square for allowing women w/o adequate means to have them as well. At least until staggering poverty is finally eliminated.
Maybe not in my lifetime, but hopefully in the future. There are valid non-medical reasons for it as well.

Vile Blasphemer said...

Aus Blog, come see me when the environment can no longer support the population of our species and then we'll see what happens.

"Yes it is, & very sharp of you to notice..."

I must confess... it's the only Tai Chi sword name I know.

Krystalline Apostate said...

VB:
I must confess... it's the only Tai Chi sword name I know.
Honest too.

Vile Blasphemer said...

It's one of the few human qualities I imagine can't be made despicable.

say no to christ said...

Ah, the abortion issue. The christians can never have enough control over women. Before the patriarchal take over and the priesthood of medicine, women took care of all their reproductive needs themselves and naturally. In the studies of indigenous peoples that still exist today the women still use natural herbs to prevent and to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

I personally believe that surgical abortion was created by men to intrude in and to punish the female body. That does NOT mean I am anti-choice cuz I am absolutely pro-choice, but I do recognise the brutality in it. Do I think abortion should be banned? Hell NO, but we should be looking at what the acient women knew and what the indigenous women still know to fix the problem and put reproduction back into womens and womens hands ALONE once again.

Aristotel said:" the fetus isn't animated with a human soul until 40 days after conception for males, 90 days for females - both having a vegetable soul before then."

Fuck you Aristotel! You incompletel female! lol

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
Do I think abortion should be banned? Hell NO, but we should be looking at what the acient women knew and what the indigenous women still know to fix the problem and put reproduction back into womens and womens hands ALONE once again.
Ramen, sistah.
Fuck you Aristotel! You incompletel female! lol
Ummm...Aristotle was a guy.

karen said...

Ummm...Aristotle was a guy.
Exactly, hon. That's what makes him an incomplete female.

How did they know back in Aristotle's day, if they were performing an abortion on a male or female fetus? Hmmmmm?

Great post, KA. I know I learned some new things. Nice of you to do all this research for us! :)

Sorry to be so late in responding. The thread wouldn't open up the comments section till today, just now, for me. I was beginning to think I needed a new password/decoder ring.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
Exactly, hon. That's what makes him an incomplete female.
D'oh! So all us guys are incomplete females? Oh, yeah...the nipples are a dead giveaway.
How did they know back in Aristotle's day, if they were performing an abortion on a male or female fetus? Hmmmmm?
That, love, is a great query.
Great post, KA. I know I learned some new things. Nice of you to do all this research for us! :)
The pleasure is entirely mine. ;)

say no to christ said...

Ka said

"D'oh! So all us guys are incomplete females? Oh, yeah...the nipples are a dead giveaway."

lol Your adorable.

b5df98bc-4b60-11e0-9d0b-000bcdcb2996 said...

Krystalline Apostate,
It's one thing to present the facts associated with any issue. It's entirely another in how one interprets those facts and herein lies your most fundamental problem. First off you claim... "And so again, I reiterate my personal stand: I’m pro-choice and pro-life – the woman gets the choice, but let’s keep it legal, safe, and rare." The problem is there is no inbetween stance; either one is killing or one is not (the fact that there are only two camps, prolife and proabortion, manifest this "fact"). Abortion is about taking a human life and even the Supreme Court in the Roe V. Wade decision admitted this. What they denied is that they had the "competency" of determining when a human being becomes a person. The decision from all perspectives, the scientifc, philosophical and theological was a farce. We know today that once a human being comes into existence their personhood must be integral to their nature or they cannot ever be persons. There is no other place during human life in which to make this distinction. The moment of fertilization of the egg with the sperm is the time where the sharpest line can be drawn and is readily seen with even the tools of science. Your comment that the bible in mentioning the "breath of life" means the moment when a fetus (from the Latin "little one") takes it's first breath is that moment to which we should attach fundamental protections is misconceived. This metaphor was not meant to hold to either scientific rigor or ontological reality. This text must be interpreted as all other scripture in a way that is coherent and in context of the whole. And because it comes from the teachings the Church is entrusted with it must therefore be understood with Her mind. Outside the Church's authority no one has the competence to interpret scripture as you attempt to do here.

That theologians and philosophers debated this and other issues in the past does not mean the Church has ever wavered on Her position of the life issues. It's much like the stance we all should have when out in the woods hunting. We never shoot first then ask questions later as this could lead to a disaster. On the contrary, unless we know otherwise, we always assume the movement in the bushes is a human life and act accordingly by NOT shooting. It's only if and when we know that movement was caused by the animal we are hunting that we are free to shoot. The Church's stance on all life issues has remained basically this from the first moment until now and will continue until the end of time. Sure theologians have speculated on the status of when human life is to be admitted just as they speculate today on whether contraceptive measures can be taken after a rape. The question being what is the moral status of a particular act in a given situation? Nevertheless, if there is doubt as to the status of an essential or moral question in relation to human life the general teaching is that "we must always err on the side of caution" ...not the other way around.

CONTINUED...

Krystalline Apostate said...

That is the fallacy of the excluded middle - either/or. Also, the 14th amendment specifically states that a BORN citizen has rights. It's fairly unambiguous.
It's about women & their reproductive rights. Nobody wants abortion. The parting of the ways is here: you cannot prove there is a soul. Until you prove this (& reproduce it multiple times in a lab), and THEN prove that it pops into the human body AT THE QUICKENING, you have zero point @ all.