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The Criminalization of Abortion in the West – Its Origins in Medieval Law - Cornell Scholarship Online
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The Criminalization of Abortion in the West: Its Origins in Medieval Law

Wolfgang P. Müller


Anyone who wants to understand how abortion has been treated historically in the Western legal tradition must first come to terms with two quite different but interrelated historical trajectories. On one hand, there is the ancient Judeo-Christian condemnation of prenatal homicide as a wrong warranting retribution; on the other, there is the juristic definition of “crime” in the modern sense of the word, which distinguished the term sharply from “sin” and “tort” and was tied to the rise of Western jurisprudence. To find the act of abortion first identified as a crime in the West, one has to go ... More

Keywords: abortion, prenatal homicide, crime, ecclesiastical law, Roman law, criminalization

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780801450891
Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016 DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801450891.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Wolfgang P. Müller, author
Professor of History, Fordham University