The user made the correlation between white men losing their slaves and wanting more kids to do free work for them — which she then alluded that abortion was never about murder to begin with.
The TikTok has over eight million views — but is the assumption correct?
Law professor, historian, and author Mary Zeigler spoke to BuzzFeed on abortion, revealing that such methods have been around for centuries in almost every culture and civilization.
“If we zoom in on the United States, until the late nineteenth century, most states did make abortion illegal, but only later in pregnancy — at the point of quickening, when fetal movement could be detected,” she explained.
And according to the American Pregnancy Association, quickening can happen as early as 13 weeks or as late as 25 weeks.
In 1857, a doctor by the name of Horatio Storer burned the torch for the American Medical Association (AMA) in a campaign to criminalize all abortions.
And despite Storer arguing in favor of life beginning at fertilization and not quickening (when fetal movements can be felt) — his ultimate goal was to prove that physicians were superior to midwives and other practitioners who were competing for business at the time.
“The argument that abortion was murder — and that it was immoral — was central to Storer’s campaign. However, the campaign had self-interest. Talking about abortion allowed doctors like Storer to claim that they were better informed and had more moral scruples,” she said, adding that Storer was Harvard-educated.
That was not the only reasoning behind Stoner wanting to criminalize and outlaw abortion. He also enacted racial bias. He believed that wealthy, educated white women were the main people having abortions because he also believed low-income immigrants produced more children in general.
“Storer wanted the law to ensure that more of the ‘better class of women’ would have children. This effort was very successful.
By the time he retired in the 1870s, virtually every state criminalized abortion — unless a woman’s life was at risk,” Zeigler told BuzzFeed.
With this in mind, does the TikTok have any truth to it?
When it comes to the time period of the abolition of slavery and the outlawing of abortion, there is a correlation — just as the TikTok suggests.
And according to Zeigler, it could be possible that some Southerners may have supported the movement to criminalize abortion on the basis that they could have more children do work for free.
That being said, she also believes the leaders of the movement had different agendas.
“The forces behind the criminalization of abortion began work in the Northeast, not the South. Those in the South upset about the abolition of slavery were focused on the creation of a peonage sharecropping system, centered on segregation, that would function almost identically to slavery,” she said.
To put it in layman’s terms: the TikTok might be on to something. But it should be noted that the movement to make abortion illegal was the doing of AMA and Storer attempting to prevent wealthy, educated white women from having control over their own bodies.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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