ABORTIONLegal Dictionary -> ABORTION
ABORTION, med jur. and criminal law. The expulsion of the foetus before the
seventh mouth of utero-gestation, or before it is viable. q.v. 2. The causes of this accident are referable either to the mother, orto the foetus and its dependencies. The
causes in the mother may be: extremenervous susceptibility, great debility, plethora, faulty conformation, andthe like; and it is frequently induced immediately by intense
mentalemotion. The causes seated in the foetus are its death, rupture of themembranes, &c. 3. It most frequently occurs between the 8th and 12th weeks ofgestation.
When abortion is produced with a malicious design, it becomes amisdemeanor, at common law, 1 Russell, 553; and the party causing it may beindicted and punished. 4.
The criminal means resorted to for the purpose of destroying thefoetus, may be divided into general and local. To the first belongvivisection, emetics, cathartics diuretics,
emmenagogues &c. The secondembraces all kinds of violence directly applied. 5. When, in consequence of the means used to produce abortion, thedeath of the woman
ensues, the crime is murder. 6. By statute a distinction is made between a woman quick with child,(q.v.) and one who, though pregnant, is not so, 1 Bl. Com.
129.Physiologists, perhaps with reason, think that the child is a living beingfrom the moment of conception. 1 Beck. Med. Jur. 291. General References. 1 Beck, 288 to
331; and 429 to 435; where will befound an abstract of the laws of different countries, and some of the statespunishing criminal abortion; Roscoe, Cr. Ev. 190; 1 Russ. 553;
Vilanova yManes, Materia Criminal Forense, Obs. 11, c. 7 n. 15-18. See also 1 Briand,Med. Leg. 1 ere partie, c. 4, where the question is considered, how farabortion is
justifiable, and is neither a crime nor a misdemeanor. See Alis.Cr. L. of Scot. 628.