Excerpt from The New England Medical Gazette, 1903, Vol. 38: A Monthly Journal of Homoeopathic Medicine
It is not, however, the unmarried but the married who furnish most employment to the abortionists. It is not the sympathy of the physician only that shields his patient from having her crime exposed. A nice legal point presents itself. No physician may divulge secrets derogatory to the character and well being of his patient, that are obtained in the performance of his professional duties. In case of sild den death the case properly goes from his hands to the med ical examiner, and his responsibility in the case ceases. Under any Clrcumstances it is the physician's right, and it may be his duty to himself and the profession he represents, to demand counsel, in order that the responsibility may be divided, and he be shielded from accusation or suspicion of having been a participant in the crime. This should be the physician's stand in cases to which he is called after the act. Foreknowledge, or a possible understanding, either direct or indirect, with the abortionist that he is not unwilling to give the after treatment makes him morally and legally a partner in the crime. That reputable physicians will lend themselves to this service Iam unwilling to believe. And yet a notorious abortionist once had the effrontery to pro pose, through a third party, that I assume the after care of such of her patients as were accustomed to homoeopathic treatment, declaring that there were several physicians of high repute, of the other school, to whom she sent patients for after care. I do not believe her statement, for surely no physician however lacking in honor and reckless of reputa tion would sell himself as she claimed.
Perhaps no more momentous question presents itself to the obstetrician than the one of justifiable abortion. It 15 a question of life or death. It usually means the sacrifice of one that another may live, or at least may have a better chance of living. To decide this conscientiously and wisely he must first obtain a full knowledge of the woman's past and present condition; must, as a pathologist, thoroughly understand what these conditions indicate and the dangers attending them; and he must know the various and best means for averting the threatened disaster, or if one of two disasters is inevitable to wisely select the lesser. He must study each individual case; be exact in diagnosis conserva tive, yet fearless, in treatment. The careless observer of symptoms, the unlearned in pathology, and the dilatory in' applying remedial measures have no legitimate place in the field of obstetrics.
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