Abortion in Late Imperial China | Stanford Center at Peking University


by Project Pengyou on September 2nd, 2014   1185 views

When and Where

  • 02/09/2014
    4:00 pm - 5:15 pm

  • Stanford Center at Peking University
    The Lee Jung Sen Building Langrun Yuan Peking University No.5 Yiheyuan Road Haidian District Beijing, P.R.China 100871
    Beijing
    China
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Abortion in Late Imperial China | Stanford Center at Peking University

Event Details

In late imperial China, a number of purported methods of abortion were known; but who actually attempted abortion and under what circumstances?

Tuesday, September 2, 4:00pm-5:15pm
“Abortion in Late Imperial China”
Matthew H. Sommer, Associate Professor in History, Stanford University
Stanford Center at Peking University
Stanford Center at Peking University | Open to Public | Registration
 
In late imperial China, a number of purported methods of abortion were known; but who actually attempted abortion and under what circumstances? Some historians have suggested that abortion was used for routine birth control, which presupposes that known methods were safe, reliable, and readily available. This paper challenges the qualitative evidence on which those historians have relied, and presents new evidence from Qing legal sources and modern medical reports to argue that traditional methods of abortion (the most common being abortifacient drugs) were dangerous, unreliable, and often cost a great deal of money. Therefore, abortion in practice was an emergency intervention in a crisis: either a medical crisis, in which pregnancy threatened a woman’s health, or a social crisis, in which pregnancy threatened to expose a woman’s extramarital sexual relations. Moreover, abortion was not necessarily available even to women who wanted one.
 
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