It is now necessary to mention two other natural phenomena which, like all others, have been so universally misunderstood - abortion and prevention of conception. From their very nature they prevent popular discussion, and, therefore, but few people have any idea of their significance in the natural reduction of the birth rate. In the most ancient times, abortion was unknown, as the parents simply waited until the child was born and then killed it. Abortion came in as a later refinement to -avoid the pain of labor, and the greater pain of killing the offspring. This latter pain is seen only in the higher races, for to my certain knowledge, lower races do not dread infanticide in the least. A Filipino peasant woman does not look upon her children as human beings until they are baptized, and would not hesitate to abandon them to death by exposure. Yet abortion is found among lower races, as I have personally discovered among American Indians. Though it was allowed in ancient Greece and Rome,* it has become illegal in higher civilizations for the reason that every human being, born or unborn, is declared to have a right to live. This modern and highest of human rights is itself a result of natural selection in civilization. The idea was a natural growth because we survived as nations and were making life safer for all. Hence, the safer it is for others the safer it is for us, and no life must be sacrificed except to protect the community, as in war. The Roman Catholic Church is in the front of the modern crusade against all destruction of life by abortion. As soon as conception occurs, the tiny ovum, unless it jeopardizes other lives, has all the rights of life of an adult millionaire or a ruling prince.
* W. L. Howard, Journal American Medical Association, May 15, 1S97.
The medical profession as a body has always considered the abortionist an enemy to the race, and ostracized him. A certain doctor of Magdeburg, who, in 1898, invented an intrauterine pessary to prevent conception, and thereby caused many deaths, was sent to prison like any other criminal. He was supposed to be responsible for the reduction of the birth rate of that city from 8,244 in 1891, to 7,224 in 1900, not from prevention of conception, but from abortions induced by the pessary.* Nevertheless, abortion is almost universal. It is stated by Dr. Geo. J. Engelmann that in every twenty-eight conceptions there are ten abortions in America. In Europe there are ten to every thirty-three conceptions. What a powerful means it is of keeping the birth rate in reasonable bounds.
The commission appointed to investigate the reduction of the birth rate in New South Wales, reported that it was due to deliberate attempts to prevent conception, or destroy the fetus if conception did occur, and also due to the diseases following such practices. There was no evidence of a physiologic sterility. The fall of the birth rate was gradual from 1867 to 1887, and then the drop increased, the fall being thirty per cent, in the last twenty years. It was thirty-eight per 1,000 in 1880, and twenty-seven and six-tenths in 1901. While there were five and four-tenths children per family in 1880, now there are three and six-tenths. It is said that of 94,708 first births in New South Wales in the decade 1891-1900, 48,271 were of post-nuptial conception, 22,094 were of ante-nuptial conception, and 24,343 were illegitimate. Surely this shows racial deterioration instead of normal reduction of birth rates elsewhere. As explained in another chapter, white men in that latitude must die out.
* Doctor Keferstein reports the details of the above case in Centralblatt fur Gynakologie, June 7, 1902.
The newspapers too often are in favor of abortion because they gain revenue from the advertisements of the abortionists. Religious newspapers will have on one page editorials denouncing abortion, which only call attention to the bare-faced advertisements on the opposite side. As long as the newspapers and the clergy thus gain profit from abortionists the practice can never be stopped.
What is called the oath of Hippocrates was enacted of every Greek before he could even learn the art of medicine. It contained a solemn pledge not to give any woman an appliance to produce abortion. Considering, then, that the medical profession by 2,500 years of precept and example have been unsuccessfully fighting the evil - that is, the respectable element, not the black sheep - it is quite evident that we cannot upset a natural law. Abortion, no doubt, is getting less frequent, not because we have preached against it, but because it is less necessary.