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Angus McLaren

Angus McLaren, author of “Illegal Operations: Women, Doctors, and Abortion” demonstrates the life of an abortionist in the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. McLaren explains a series of affairs in detail with many different abortionists. Since abortion was illegal at the time, many women consulted midwives, or took the procedure of abortion among themselves, this at times resulted in their death. The articles purpose is to use legal sources to explore the decision to abort while the state, and the professions took a serious interest in the fertility control decisions of women. What is being argued is the fate of women burdened with unwanted pregnancies whose well-being was placed at risk by the law. Midwives, herbalists, and masseuses performed most abortions. Therefore, most of these people were convicted. Most women supported other abortionists, but in some cases women would accuse others of aborting or attempting to abort. McLaren argues that abortions came only to the attention of authorities when something went wrong. This supports her feelings that women’s well-being was jeopardized around this particular time, especially poor, or single women. For example, single, or poor women were reported more often than private patients by hospital staff. McLaren also mentions that women were not given the opportunity to abort properly by professionals and therefore conducted their own operations, or visit a midwife, or herbalists. McLaren accuses doctors of neglecting women who wanted to abort because of the responsibility that came with the operation. All doctors couldn’t legally perform the operation; other professionals and the law would accuse them heavily. That’s why McLaren makes it clear that doctors, regardless of their moral beliefs, wouldn’t risk performing the operation because it might tarnish their reputation. Because methods of contraception were expensive and not readily accessible, many pregnancies w...

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Angus McLaren. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:43, September 02, 2014, from