• “Abortion by Assault: Violence against Pregnant Women in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-century England.”

    Author(s):
    Sara Margaret Butler (see profile)
    Date:
    2005
    Group(s):
    British History, Feminist Humanities, Legal history, Medical Humanities, Medieval Studies
    Subject(s):
    Medicine, History, Middle Ages, Violence
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    abortion, Medical history, Medieval history
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/psg7-c686
    Abstract:
    According to medieval common law, assault against a pregnant woman causing miscarriage after the fi rst trimester was homicide. Some scholars have argued, however, that in practice English jurors refused to acknowledge assaults of this nature as homicide. The underlying argument is that because abortion by assault is a crime against women, male jurors were loath to impose the death penalty. A reexamination of the material notes that while conviction rates for assault on pregnant women were low, the English believed such assaults were felonies. Moreover, the role played by husbands as plaintiffs makes it clear that this was not merely a women’s issue. Abortion by assault was never an easy judgment for jurors to deliver. In particular, the medical expertise required to pass judgment on such a case presented jurors with difficulties that may have prevented conviction of abortion by assault in many cases.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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