Bibliography of Pro-Life History: Secondary Sources

Bednarski, Steven and Andrée Courtemanche. "‘Sadly and with a Bitter Heart’: What the Caesarean Section Meant in the Middle Ages.Florilegium, Volume 28 (2011). p. 33-69. A good article discussing the role of the c-section in Medieval society. Lots of good background information on baptism, the unborn, etc.  It's more of a micro-history/commentary of a document.

Berthiaud, Emmanuelle. "Soulever le 'le voile derrière lequel la nature se cache': les représentations anatomiques de la grossesse (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle): quels savoirs masculins et féminins?" in Enfanter dans la France d'Ancien Régime. Ed. Laetitia Dion et al. Artois Presses Université. 2017. pp. 175-193. P. 175: from the Middle Ages until the 20th century, artistic representations of pregnant women are rare.The majority of images are medically issued. Quite a lot of focus on fetal imagery. Makes a great point on p. 193. Despite the innocuousness of ultrasound, those images are still filled with "l'imaginaire." It doesn't mean people really know about the science.

Bodemer, Charles W. "Embryological Thought in Seventeenth Century England", in Medical Investigation in Seventeenth Century England. 1968.

Brodie, Janet Farrell. Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth Century America. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Butler, Sara M. "Abortion by Assault: Violence against Pregnant Women in Thirteenth-and Fourteenth-Century England." Journal of Women's History, vol. 17 no. 4, 2005, pp. 9-31. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/jowh.2005.0042

Cahen, Fabrice." De l'« efficacité » des politiques publiques : la lutte contre l'avortement « criminel » en France, 1890-1950."  Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, no 58-3,(3), 90-117. 2011. Link is to English version of the article. Abstract:  The fight against illegal abortion in twentieth century France cannot be reduced to a simple question of repression or coercion, as is revealed by the study of its origins, institutional frames and target population. The recommended and/or established instruments and means of action combined disciplinary systems aiming at controlling the body with more subtle techniques which made use of the moral and normative motivations of the subjects. The population – defined here as a group of individuals whose consent, and even more, whose subjectivization determine the achievement of the project that has been laid down – is therefore not only the object of public policy, but also one of its actors. Anti-abortion messages were couched in a way that worked on the sensibilities, moral sense and temporalities of the population. As a consequence, historians should not assume too quickly that penal measures were « ineffective », as could be inferred from the judicial statistics which show a low condemnation rate in regard to the number of abortions. Although the anti-abortion policy never achieved its primary purpose, it succeeded in influencing the population at different levels.

Callander, Brian and Margaret Carlyle. "The Fetus in Utero: From Mystery to Social Media.KNOW: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge, 2019. A good summary of the history of fetal imagery from the Medieval to the Modern Era. Has a lot of good leads. But also very feminist.

Caspar, Philippe. L'embryon au IIe siècle. Editions L'Harmattan, Feb 1, 2003

Cobb, Matthew. Generation: The Seventeenth-Century Scientists Who Unraveled the Secrets of Sex, Life and Growth, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008.

Cody, Lisa Forman. Birthing the Nation : Sex, Science, and the Conception of Eighteenth-Century Britons. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Accessed November 4, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central. P. 277-283 Especially relevant. Discussion of the moral status of the unborn, especially in regards to what obstetricians had to say about them.

Connery, John, S.J. Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective. Chicago: Loyal University Press, 1977. Essential reading. Includes the Vatican response to such topics as embryotomy. Very thorough.

Crémière, Cédric, Jean-Louis Fischer, René Frydman, Émile Papiernik, Avant la Naissance: 5000 ans d'images, Éditions du Muséum d'histoire naturelle du Havre, 2009.

Davis, Claire J. "The Question of Abortion in Revolutionary Russia, 1905–1920", Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. & Biomed. Sci., Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 45–67, 1999.

Dellapenna, Joseph. Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History. 2005.

Demarco, Donald. "The Roman Catholic Church and Abortion: An Historical Perspective." Part I. Part II. Part I Originally published in The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Ignatius Press,  July 1984.P. 59-66. Part II published in the same magazine, August-September 1984, p. 68-76. Excellent overview of the topic. 

Deprest, Jan  A et al. "The Making of Fetal Surgery", Prenatal  Diagnosis 2010; 30: 653–667. DOI: 10.1002/pd.2571

Duden, Barbara. "The Fetus on 'The Farther Shore': Towarda a History of the Unborn". in Fetal Subjects, Feminist Positions. Ed.  Lynn Marie Morgan, Meredith W. Michaels. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. p. 13-25. The Google link does not contain the complete article. She makes the pertinent observation that before Soemmerring's book Icones Embryonum Humanorum in 1799,  there were virtually no good depictions of the unborn. Still quite a lot of feminist claptrap. Duden is a medical historian but the book is considered medical anthropology.

Dupré, Jean-Louis. "A propos des clystères de baptême." Clystère, July 23, 2016. You may be able to Google it online, but the original link no longer exists.

Dyer, Frederick N. "Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D. and the Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion."

Elliot, Rosemary. "Miscarriage, abortion or criminal feticide: Understandings of early pregnancy loss in Britain, 1900–1950", Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological & Biomedical Science, September 2014, Volume47(Issue Part B) Page p.248-256.

Forsythe, Clarke D. Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade. New York: Encounter Books, 2013. Exactly what the title says. Has a lot of nitty gritty about how the Roe v. Wade case was decided.  The judges based themselves on Cyril Means' faulty history of abortion and they legislated from the bench.

Frigenti Lucia , Laura Vannucci, , Maria-Simonetta Faussone-Pellegrini, "From conception to birth: ancient library sources of embryology and women's anatomy kept in the Biblioteca Biomedica of the Università degli Studi di Firenze (Biomedical Library of Florence University)," Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, Vo l. 116, n . 2: 93-103, 2011.

Gargam, Adeline. "Un Nouveau Critère d'Évaluation de 'genre' en obstétrique: Les opuscules d'accouchement écrits par les femmes au XVIIIe siècle (1677-1800)." in Enfanter dans la France d'Ancien Régime. Ed. Laetitia Dion et al. Artois Presses Université. 2017. pp. 51-65. I am listing this for some of the stats it has on obstetrical writings. P.52 Citing Jacques Gelis (La sage-femme ou le médecin p. 328), says 245 obstetrical manuals were published in 13 European countries between 1668 and 1815. 56 of them were in France. These books were written better educate midwives. P.55 citing Jacques Gelis: two types of manuals. One is for specialists, the other to educate midwives. P. 61 citing Marguerite de la Marche (Instruction familière p. 103) and Marguerite Coutanceau (Élements, p. 71-72) says that midwives had instruments to baptize babies.

Gasking, Elizabeth. Investigations Into Generation 1651-1828. Johns Hopkina U. Press, 1967. A really good summary of the history of embryology in that period.

Gélis, Jacques. History of Childbirth.Fertility, Pregnancy and Birth in Early Modern Europe. Translated by Rosemary Morris. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991.

Gijbels, Jolien et al. "Aligning Faith with Medicine: Medical Ethics, Reproduction and Catholic Morality in Francophone and Anglophone Normative Literature, c. 1840–1960." Journal of Religious History. Vol. 46, Issue 3. September 2022. 439-459. A good overview of the evolution of pro-life ideas in the 19th and 20th century in Europe.

Gourdon, Vincent, Madeleine Grieve and Catherine Rollet, "Stillbirths in Nineteenth-Century Paris: Social, Legal and Medical Implications of a Statistical Category",  Population (English Edition, 2002-), Vol. 64, No. 4 (2009 October-December), pp. 601-634.

Harris-Stoertz, Fiona. "Pregnancy and Childbirth in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century French and English Law."  Journal of the History of Sexuality [1043-4070]  Volume :21 iss :2 (2012). Pages :263 -281. Lots of good information about the legal status of the unborn. Killing a pregnant woman was a double murder. "Quickening" sometimes held to be at 40 days. (Verify that-- might confuse quickening and animation.)

Haugeberg, Karissa. Women against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century.  University of Illinois Press, 2017. I disagree with the pro-abortion slant of this book, but it has much good information about the women who sought to defend the unborn.

Hopwood, Nick. "Embryology", The Cambridge History of Science, Volume 6: The Modern Biological and Earth Sciences. Edited by Peter J. Bowler, John V. Pickstone.  Cambridge University Press, 2009.   A really good pithy summary of embryology from about the dawn of the age of science until the 21st century. A good intro.

Huber, Karen E. "Punishing Abortion: Duty, Morality, and Practicality in Early 20th-Century France."American Journal of Economics & Sociology. Jan2017, Vol. 76 Issue 1, p95-120. 26p. DOI:10.1111/ajes.12176 . Discusses abortion in early 20th century France. French law tended to punish abortionists. She says in spite of Catholic background, people did not agree that early abortion was bad (based on criminal records.) Erroneous view of the history of abortion in Early Modern France-- cites quickening, when quickening did not exist in French thought.

Johnson, Ryan. "A Movement for Change:Horatio Robinson Storerand Physicians' Crusade Against Abortion", James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal, Volume 4 | Issue 1, 2016-17. Lots of problems with this essay, but useful for some of the leads it provides.

Keown, John. Abortion, doctors, and the law : some aspects of the legal regulation of abortion in England from 1803 to 1982. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

King, Helen. Midwifery, Obstetrics and the Rise of Gynaecology: The Uses of a Sixteenth-Century Compendium.London. Routledge. 2017. Lots of interesting background information. Partial preview in Google Books.

Kozub, Andrea Zlotucha. “To Married Ladies It Is Peculiarly Suited”: Nineteenth-Century Abortion in an Archaeological ContextHistorical Archaeology. (2018). . Information on a couple of archaeological sites that contained aborted babies. I found many of the conclusions speculative and some of the information about abortion history erroneous, but still has worth because of the details it provides. Claims sadness over miscarriage is a social construct invented in the 1980's.

Laget, Mireille.La césarienne ou la tentation de l'impossible, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècleAnnales de Bretagne et des pays de l'Ouest Year 1979 Volume 86 Issue 2 pp. 177-189

Le Naour, Jean-Yves, Catherine Valenti. Histoire de l'avortement, XIXe-XXe Siècle. Paris: Édition du Seuil, 2003.

Lett Didier. « Enfants désirés, enfants indésirables dans la société médiévale (XII-XIVe siècles) », L'Autre, 2002/2 (Volume 3), p. 215-225. DOI : 10.3917/lautr.008.0215. URL : . Says "Pour les chrétiens, la femme enceinte est un être sacré et intouchable. Toute atteinte qui lui est faite est considérée comme un sacrilège. " Says "On comprend alors, dans ce type de société, pourquoi l’avortement est jugé avec autant de sévérité. C’est un crime qui porte atteinte au sacré. Aussi, les coupables sont-ils excommuniés ou, s’ils ne bénéficient pas de circonstances atténuantes (pauvreté par exemple) condamnés au bûcher." Says "L’infanticide a été souvent perçu, à tort, comme un phénomène massif au Moyen Âge, un moyen de contrôler les naissances et une des preuves les plus assurées du manque d’amour des parents pour leurs enfants. Les études les plus récentes infirment complètement cette vision des choses. "

Lett, Didier. Book Review of "Les enfants des limbes. Mort-nés et parents dans l'Europe chrétienne by Jacques Gélis" Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 62, no. 1 (2007): 228-31. This book review is a little goldmine. It deals principally with "les répits à sanctuaire." P. 229: Baptism of babies central to Christian preoccupations in the Middle Ages. These "répits" are where babies are exposed on an altar to get saintly intercession so the baby can be resurrected so baptism can be administered (and then the baby can die and go to heaven.) P. 229 the practice develops 11th-14th century. P.230: J. Gelis counts 277 repits in France. They can also be found in Belgium, Flanders, Northern Italy, Austria, Germany. These repits were not found in Spain, most of Italy and Brittany. These areas had rites substituting for these repits."Baptism for the dead." "Baptism by Eucharist", "Baptism on the Bridge" (the last one found in Galicia, Portugal.)  These are all heterodox rites which seek to baptize a baby in utero or a dead baby. These repits become even more important during the Reformation to prove the power of intercession of the saints. Jansenists and Lumières criticized the practice. The practice started to decline by the end of the 18th century.  Corresponded to the rise of the Church's approval of the C-section on dead pregnant woman, as well as prenatal baptism. The practice is condemned in 1729 by the Church as a kind of superstition, but it was rehabilitated in the 19th century. Stories of these repit were used to show true faith of rural Frenchmen.

Lloyd, Jacqueline M. "The 'Languid Child' and the Eighteenth-Century Man-Midwife.Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 75, No. 4 (Winter 2001), pp. 641-679. Focuses on obstetric concern for the child, but some mentions relating to the unborn child. References the increasing concern for the unborn. Mentions a debate regarding whether an unborn child has independent life. I have not seen evidence of this debate.

Longo, Lawrence D. The Rise of Fetal and Neonatal Physiology: Basic Science to Clinical Care.  Springer: 2018. Completed by team of authors. Table of contents is page XXV.  A goldmine of information about the history of medicine and research surrounding the unborn. 

Longo, Lawrence D., Lawrence P. Reynolds, Wombs with a View: Illustrations of the Gravid Uterus from the Renaissance through the Nineteenth Century. 2016. A really good resource on the history of fetal imagery.

Lowy, Ilana. "How genetics came to the unborn: 1960–2000".Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol & Biomed Sci, September 2014, Vol.47, pp.154-162 .

Lowy, Ilana. Imperfect Pregnancies: A History of Birth Defects and Prenatal Diagnosis. Baltimore: JHU Press, 2017. P. 2 " At that time, physicians focused their attention on the pregnant woman and were only marginally interested in the unborn child."-- Not exactly sure about that. P. 3 says that images of fetus were available to pregnant women before 1970s, cites Nilsson. As a matter of fact, images of the unborn were fairly rare and inaccurate before 1960s in my opinion. They usually consisted of drawings or photos of a fetus in a jar. P. 4, speaks of concept of 'the scrutinized fetus. P. 6: history of the scrutiny of the fetus can be divided into four stages. P. 10 Two important themes of this book: diagnosis of Down Syndrome and the use of obstetrical ultrasound. P.21 in Chapter 2 speaks of Ballantyne, an embryologist who was an ardent defender of the unborn who tried to discover the origin of fetal defects. Very pro-life. The rest of the book has very good background on the history of prenatal diagnosis.

MacTavish, Liane. "Practices of Looking and the Medical Humanities: Imagining the Unborn in France, 1550–1800". Journal of Medical Humanities. Information.March 2010, Volume31(Issue1) pp.11-26

Maienschein, Jane. "Competing Views of Embryos for the Twenty-First Century: Textbooks and Society", Science and Education, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp. 241-253.

Meehan, Mary. "How the Supremes Flunked History." Accessed October 13, 2017. A review of Joseph Dellapenna's Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History. Notes some of the flaws in the book. Notwithstanding the flaws, the book is a goldmine of information. Lists some of the cases and information that undermines traditional abortion history.

Mistry,Zubin. Abortion in the Early Middle Ages c. 500-900. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK : York Medieval Press. 2015.

Mohr, James. Abortion in America. Abortion in America : The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, Oxford University Press, 1979.  Has some interesting appendices containing medical studies from the 19th century on abortion. To be used with caution. See Joseph Dellapenna's Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History.

Morel, Héloïse. "L’avortement de l’Ancien Régime au XIXe siècle en France." Accessed May 12, 2018.

Morgan, Lynn. Icons of Life: A Cultural History of Human Embryos. University of California Press, 2009. A feminist study on the anthropological history of the unborn.

Müller, Wolfgang P. The Criminalization of Abortion in the West; Its Origins in Medieval Law. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 2012. Very useful information about the unborn in Western Europe.

Newman, Karen. Fetal Positions: Individual, Science, Visuality. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1996. I strongly disagree with the feminist approach of this extended essay written by this Professor of Comparative Literature. However, it does document the history of fetal imagery to some degree and it is cited in the feminist literature so it's important to list.

Noonan, John T. Jr. Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists. Enlarged Edition. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1986.  

O'Dowd, Michael J. and Elliot E. Phillip. The History of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.  Boca Raton, Florida, CRC Press, 2000. A huge book with lots of nitty gritty details. A good overview of the topic.

O'Grady, John. "A History of Instrumental Delivery." Operative Obstetrics. O'Grady, J., Gimovsky, M., Bayer-Zwirello, L., & Giordano, K., Ed.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511580987.003

Perrier, Sylvie.  "Enfant à naître, conçu, posthume: La filiation entre droit et biologie (France XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles)." Annales de démographie historique, 2019/1 n° 137, 75 à 100.

Pottiee-Sperry, François. "L'hysterotomotokie ou enfantement caesarien" de François Rousset (Paris, 1581) Le livre d'un imposteur ou celui d'un précurseur ? HISTOIRE DES SCIENCES MÉDICALES - TOME XXX - № 2 - 1996. Useful for context on caesarians. Also potential for primary sources.

Quinn, John F. "The Good Doctor: Horatio Robinson Storer",  Crisis Magazine.  December 10, 2012.

Rigau-Pérez, José G. "Surgery at the Service of Theology: Postmortem Cesarean Sections in Puerto Rico and the Royal Cedula of 1804". The Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 75, No. 3 (Aug., 1995), pp. 377-404.

Roe, Shirley AMatter, Life, and Generation: Eighteenth-Century Embryology and the Haller-Wolff Debate. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981. A good summary of the Wolff-Haller debates about embryology and the philosophical and religious concerns that informed that debate.

Ryan, Joseph G. "The Chapel and the Operating Room: The Struggle of Roman Catholic Clergy, Physicians, and Believers with the Dilemmas of Obstetric Surgery, 1800-1900." Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Volume 76, Number 3, Fall 2002.

Schafer, Daniel. "Medical Practice and the Law in the Conflict between Traditional Belief and Empirical Evidence: Post-Mortem Caesarean Section in the Nineteenth Century". Medical History, 1999, 43: 485-501. Speaks ot the practice of post-mortem c-section in France, Spain and Germany. P. 486 Speaks of the influence of Cangiamila in Catholic countries, but Protestant countries had no concern for the salvation for the unborn. In Sicily and the Kingdom of Greece, ruled by the Wittelsbach family, failure to perform the post-mortem caesarean could be punished by death. Speaks of how successful data-gathering led to decline of post-mortem caesarean.

Stephanson, Raymond and Darren N. Wagner, Ed. The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.

Stettner, Shannon. "“He is still unwanted”: Women’s Assertions of Authority over Abortion in Letters to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada". Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, Vol. 29, Issue 1, pp. 151-171.

Tatoueix, Laura. "L'Avortement dans le discours médical (XVIe-XVIIe Siècle): Entre prescription, condamnation et tabou. " in Enfanter dans la France d'Ancien Régime. Ed. Laetitia Dion et al. Artois Presses Université. 2017. pp. 69-79.  P. 76 Footnote 25. Says there is no legislation against abortion in France, but practioners are regularly condemned.(Makes me wonder how she would know that, as few historians have dealt with abortion in France.)

Taussig, Sylvie. Avortement et Callipédie : l’embryon au XVIIe siècle.  Speaks to the status of the embryo in the Swiss context in the Early Modern Era.

Thomasset, Claude. "Quelques principes de l’embryologie medievale (de Salerne à la fin du xiiiè siècle)" L’enfant au Moyen Âge : Littérature et civilisation [en ligne]. Aix-en-Provence : Presses universitaires de Provence, 1980 (généré le 06 mai 2018). Disponible sur Internet : <>. ISBN : 9782821835900. DOI : 10.4000/books.pup.2705. A good summary of many fundamental ideas in medieval embryology.

Tuomala, Jeffrey C."Nuremberg and the Crime of Abortion." 42 U. Toledo. L. Rev. 283. Published 2011.  From the abstract: "The Greifelt indictment charged ten defendants with voluntary and involuntary abortion. The prosecution's case focused in part on the Nazis' removal of the protection of law from unborn children in occupied Poland and unborn children of Eastern workers in Germany that the Nazis considered racially non-valuable. The prosecution argued that voluntary abortion was punishable because it was a crime against the unborn child. The prosecution proceeded on the theory that Germany had a duty to afford protection of law to unborn children and that the deliberate failure of high-level officials to do so constituted crimes against humanity and genocide by acts of omission. After summarizing evidence of voluntary abortion policies in its judgment, the Greifelt tribunal found two defendants guilty and one not guilty of forcible abortion and seven not guilty simply of abortion."

Van De Walle, Etienne. "Pour une histoire démographique de l'avortement." In: Population, 53ᵉ année, n°1-2, 1998. Population et histoire. pp. 273-289. DOI : 10.2307/1534245 http:// - Concludes that before modern times, abortion was a very dangerous and rare procedure that had virtually no effect on demographics.

Viguerie, Jean de.  La situation de l'avortement sous l'ancien régime, par Jean de Viguerie - Mai 2013. This video was too good to pass up. At the 7:30 mark or so, this Catholic historian cites Guy de Patin, a libertine who said that 600 abortions occurred a year in Paris in 1660.  600 Women were said to have confessed to it.  At 9:00 he cites Becarria (Sp?) an Italian jurist whose book was published in French in  1763 who says that women should not be penalized for abortion as they are victims. The death penalty is abandoned for this crime. Circa 10:00: 1791 penal code foresees no penalty for the woman who aborts.11:25: 1810 Penal code establishes penalty for woman who aborts. But this was for demographic reasons, not in favour of fetal rights.

Whiteley, Rebecca. "Figuring Pictures and Picturing Figures: Images ofthe Pregnant Body and the Unborn Child inEngland, 1540–c.1680." Social History of Medicine Vol. 0, No. 0 pp. 1–26. Some insight into fetal imagery in Early Modern England.

Williams, George Huntston. "Religious Residues and Presuppositions in the American Debate on Abortion".Theological Studies [0040-5639] Huntston Williams, George An.:1970 Vol. :31 iss :1 pg :10

Wilson, Emily K. "Ex Utero: Live Human Fetal Research and the Films of Davenport Hooker." Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Volume 88, Number 1, Spring 2014, pp. 132-160. DOI: . A really good article on the fetal experiments conducted by Davenport Hooker. They were famous for filming live fetuses of various age ranges in their dying moments as they were poked. Written by an anthropologist but richly detailed historically.

Withycombe, Shannon. Lost: Lost: Miscarriage in Nineteenth Century America. Rutgers University Press, 2018. Of particular interest: p. 61ff says the miscarried fetus became an object of interest to the medical profession after the 1830's.

Worth-Stylianou, Valerie.  Accessed May 23, 2018. A pithy introduction to reproductive issues 1500-1650. Many pages have a bibliographical list.

Worth-Stylianou, Valerie. "Concurrent Publication of Medical Works in Neo-Latin and French in Early Modern France." crcl december 2014 décembre rclc. Says that vernacular texts were often re-printed (thus circulating old information) and Latin texts were supplanted with new research (thus often had the latest information.) This is because Latin was the language of research.