Ancient Abortion Methods that Make you Grateful for Modern Abortive Medicine and Technology ContinuedDecember 29, 2016 11:11 am Leave your thoughts
No matter how many years have passed, abortion still remains a subject of taboo among most societies. Seeing the passionate debates about abortion in the present however makes us forget that pregnancy termination has a long history, a deadly and dangerous one at that. Even if today, women can buy abortion pill online or otherwise access other methods for aborting, they’re not exactly pain free.
Some these historical methods of aborting, however would make anyone grateful for modern medicine and technology, not to mention laws (where it’s legal to abort).
Shaken / beaten or pounded brutally on abdomen
The ancient Greeks had a lot of suggestions for women who were seeking to end their pregnancy. These women were counseled to do back-breaking labor, go horse-riding, throw themselves off the stairs, weightlifting, mountain-climbing, cliff-diving, jumping up and down and lastly being shaken by two strong men.
On the other hand the oldest known portrayal of abortion is from Cambodia around 1150 AD. It depicts a demon from underworld hitting a woman on abdomen with a mallet to induce abortion. Other techniques used were brutal beatings with a meat pulverizer, bat and aggressive kneading on abdomen.
Suppositories made of mouse dung, salt, camel saliva etc
One more method of aborting was by inserting a pessary vaginally that was soaked in revolting and dangerous substances. These included mouse poop, camel saliva, goose fat, turpentine, goose fat, ergot fungus, honey, Egyptian salt and resin etc. Once inserted in the vagina, they were said to be toxic for the developing fetus.
In some cases, women also inserted alive and squirming leeches inside their vaginas to induce a miscarriage.
Stepping over a viper
Gaius Plinius Secundus otherwise popularly known as Pliny the elder wasn’t well versed with working of women’s bodies. In his book, ‘Natural History’ he had an advise for women seeking abortion. This method required the woman to step over a viper to miscarry. He presumably may have meant that to be an accident; however he had also mentioned stepping over crows eggs to abort, both of them are proved to be not effective.
Stabbing your vagina and aggressive douching
Rather than using scalpels and forceps, abortion providers in the old times jabbed the embryo with things such as coat hangers, curling irons, hooks, glass rods, candles, needles, spikes and whale bones etc.
Similarly, many women used liquids such as soap water; water mixed with cayenne pepper, saltwater, gin, turpentine and other embryo scalding enemas to douche aggressively in a desperate attempt to end their unwanted pregnancy.
The use of opium as an abortifacient can be traced back to centuries. It has mentioned in various texts and literature, about how the opium was served with mandrake root or gum resin and other types of peppers for inducing a miscarriage.
Even though women now buy abortion pills or go through surgery for abortion, there was a report in 2011 where women from Pakistan had opium to help with terminating unwanted pregnancy.
This post was written by Marcella