NRL News

“The indefatigable Dr. Horatio Robinson Storer”

by | May 31, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Dr. Horatio Storer

Each day I try to provide at least one story that I merely give you a few highlights and then offer a link. Today’s sample is “How Abortion Became Illegal in the United States: A leading authority on the issue describes the heroic efforts of 19th-century physicians to make abortion against the law.”

The leading authority is author Frederick N.Dyer whose book on Horatio Storer, MD, we reviewed some time back in National Right to Life News. The comments I alluded to above can be found here.

So, since this is supposed to be brief, let me suggest that while there are any number of important points you will learn about what came to be called “The Physicians’ Crusade” from Dyer, let me cite two.

First, Dyer is talking about a 19th century physician whose role in passing protective state abortion statutes cannot be overstated. Dr. Horatio Robinson Storer “brought the American Medical Association into the fight against abortion in 1857,” Dyer writes.

Dr. Storer’s Report on Criminal Abortion was presented to the AMA in 1859. The Report requested the Association “recommend, by memorial, to the governors and legislatures of the several States, and, as representing the federal district, to the President and Congress, a careful examination and revision of the statutory and of so much of the common law, as relates to this crime.” The AMA did so unanimously.

Second, “Storer, the American Medical Association, and the state/territorial medical associations were wonderfully successful,” Dyer writes. “Connecticut and Pennsylvania passed strict anti-abortion laws in 1860. By 1880, nearly every state and territory had new legislation that made it a serious crime to induce abortions unless the mother’s life was in danger. Most of these stringent state laws against abortion were virtually unchanged until Roe v. Wade overturned them in 1973.”

Take a few minutes of your time to read Dyer’s excellent piece and get an appreciation for the power of ideas and the protective power of state statutes.

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