Tag: Infanticide

The Proof of Pregnancy

In February 1819, the Caswell County Superior Court in North Carolina tried three white women for infanticide. At issue was the state of the remains: whether the body was of a fetus or child. The accused birth mother, Sarah Jeffreys, initially denied her pregnancy but upon repeated questioning acknowledged “she had lost something but she… Read more →

On Infanticide and Reluctant Maternity: Between Personal Testimony and Historical Sensitivity

As a historian of gender and medicine, I sometimes have nightmares about the scenes of medical suffering that appear in archival sources. The setting is always the same: the historical medical-school-turned-archive where I conducted research. Because I study surgical technologies, my dreams tend to be chilling portraits of the instruments physicians used in obstetrical interventions…. Read more →

On Poverty, Morality, and Mothering

In 1930, nineteen-year-old black (preta) Jovelina Pereira dos Santos, a live-in domestic servant in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hid her pregnancy from her family and employers, gave birth in secret, and asphyxiated her newborn immediately after delivery. Santos already had a young son named Ernesto who was a little over one year of age. Santos… Read more →

Trump’s Part in Centuries-Long History of Punishing Women and Doctors

In a recent campaign interview with Chris Matthews, presidential candidate Donald Drumpf contended “there has to be some form of punishment” for women seeking abortions, should the procedure be made illegal in the United States. In a rare moment, the candidate quickly retracted his statement, but not before his Republican opponents and pro-life advocates seized… Read more →