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By Clare Hanson

Hanson explores different ways that being pregnant has been developed and interpreted in Britain during the last 250 years. Drawing on a variety of assets, together with obstetric texts, being pregnant recommendation books, literary texts, renowned fiction and visible photos, she analyzes altering attitudes to key concerns corresponding to the relative rights of mom and fetus and the measure to which clinical intervention is appropriate in being pregnant. Hanson additionally considers the results of scientific and social alterations at the subjective event of pregnancy.

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Extra resources for A Cultural History of Pregnancy: Pregnancy, Medicine and Culture, 1750-2000

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Erasmus Darwin was characteristically wayward in supporting the notion of impressions – but in his case, it was paternal impressions. 19 According to him, the image in the mind of the father at the time of copulation, or at the time of the secretion of the semen, ‘may so affect this secretion by irritative or sensitive association … as to cause the production of similarity of form and of features, with the distinction of sex’. 20 Although accoucheurs and professors of midwifery doubted the power of the imagination to make a literal mark on the developing child, they were in agreement about the potentially dangerous effects 28 A Cultural History of Pregnancy of excessive emotion in pregnancy.

F. Montgomery claims that at the autopsy putrid matter was discovered, which did suggest disease. It is impossible to determine whether Southcott was in fact suffering from organic disease (for example, a tumour or fibroid growth) or whether hers was a case of what we would now call hysterical pregnancy. The case became notorious and inspired much satirical comment, not only at the expense of Southcott but also at that of the clergymen and doctors who had supported her case. Thomas Rowlandson’s cartoon ‘A Medical Inspection: or Miracles Will Never Cease’ is particularly instructive.

83). Attacked by her mistress and thrown out, Jemima eventually turns to abortion. Because her story is told in the first person, Wollstonecraft is able to offer a rare glimpse of a woman’s feelings as the movements of the child in her body cease. The fact that the child moves is particularly significant in the context of contemporary debates about abortion, which was not actually criminalised until 1803. Prior to this, abortion was not a statutory offence, but was considered a ‘misdemeanour’ in common law and then only if it was procured after the stage of quickening.

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