Between 1904 and 1915, Maine courts tried four doctors on the charge of homicide related to abortions. These four trials drew widespread attention in the press and served as a warning not only to doctors who might be tempted to perform abortions, but to rural community members who might want to assist the women seeking the procedure. The abortion trials successfully warned and disciplined both rural doctors and community members. Once sympathetic to the needs of rural women who wanted to terminate their pregnancies, the rural community members realized the dangers of doing so and withdrew their support. As a consequence, Maine women after 1915 were forced to go long distances to seek abortions at the hands of identified “abortion doctors,” who were less likely than their earlier rural counterparts to be convicted of abortion-related homicides. Mazie Hough is Associate Professor of History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maine. She is author of Rural Unwed Mothers, 1870–1950: An American Experience and co-editor of Somalis in Maine: Crossing Cultural Currents. She also assisted Marlie Weiner in the publication of Sex, Sickness and Slavery: Defining Illness in the Antebellum South.
Hough, Mazie. "The Changing Nature of Abortion in Rural Maine, 1904–1931." Maine History 51, 1 (2017): 5-28. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol51/iss1/2