As part of my research for this book, I looked at abortion methods used by desperate women throughout history.
Some were ineffective.
Some killed the women.
If abortion is made illegal, hospitals will go back to having 20 to 30 beds to treat women from bad abortions and many will die.
Nothing will ever stop abortion.
Physical Abortion Methods Mentioned in Historical Documents/Art
The methods of premodern abortion are varied with various degrees of efficiency and results:
· Blood letting
· Coconut heated and then laid on the stomach
· Girdle tightening
· Hot water poured on the abdomen
· Jumping up and down, touching the buttocks with the heels at each leap
· Miscarriage-encouraging drugs
· Pressure on the abdomen
· Sitting over a pot of steam
· Sitting over a pot of stewed onions
· Candles shoved in the cervix (no reference on whether they were lit or not)
· Any pointed device shoved into the vaginal canal
· Water flushed into the uterus
· Liquids of many types some that burned the vaginal cavity beyond recognition
· Foreign objects that would create an infection if left in the vaginal canal
Surgical attempts were less frequently found but they did exist.
What women will put in their mouths or up their vaginas to end a pregnancy is horrifying, especially when many of the treatments are poisonous. To them, the risk was better than bearing a child at that moment.
Over the centuries plants and metals have been used to bring on abortions alone or in combinations with varying effectiveness including:
· Diachylon, a mixture of lead and plant juices
· Hellebore, white and black
· Iron chloride
· Iron sulfate
· Italian catnip
· Potassium permanganate tablets
· Savin (juniper)
· Slippery elm
· Spanish fly
· Squirting cucumber
· Tea marjoram
· Watercress seed
· Worm fern or prostitute root
*Ergot, a fungus found on rye was most often used by doctors, nurses, midwives and others for abortion. In the late stage of labor, it reduces hemorrhaging, blood loss and postpartum. The negative effect is that it causes unremitting contractions. If the fetus did not move as expected, the drug could cause the uterus to mold itself around the child, rupturing the uterus and killing the child and/or the mother.
Extreme Oral Abortifacients
Other remedies for unwanted pregnancies flash thru historical references. The list may show the desperation to have an abortion. They include:
· Black-tailed deer dissolved in fat
· Camel Saliva
· Crushed ants