The Feminist Encyclopedia of French Literature

By Eva Martin Sartori; Colette H. Winn et al. | Go to book overview

A

Abortion. Abortion and abortifacient techniques have had a unique history in France and are the subject of an extensive and varied literature. Abortion was officially criminalized in 1556 when Henri II's edict declared that a woman who had had an abortion was guilty of murder. Although literary representations of the practice were generally indirect before the nineteenth century, references to abortion can be found in Montesquieu L'Esprit des lois ( 1748), Rousseau Emile ( 1762), and Sade La Philosophie dans le boudoir ( 1795). In 1791 the Revolutionary Penal Code partially decriminalized abortion by shifting the culpability to the abortionist. Article 317 of the 1810 Napoleonic Code* reinstated severe punishment for patient and practitioner alike (also relevant was Article 340, which prohibited any legal basis for determining the paternity of illegitimate children). In 1852 the French Academy of Medicine voted to adopt the principle that abortion was an acceptable procedure if the pregnancy endangered the life of the mother. Abortion in nineteenth-century France was less and less limited to the working and marginal classes and increasingly a recourse for middle- and upper-class women, as represented in Dumas fils's play La Femme de Claude ( 1873). However, it was not until the late nineteenth century that abortion, in the context of the 1890s depopulationist debate, became a widely articulated social and literary issue. The politically and socially conservative depopulationists saw abortion as a veritable crime against the nation, a selfish, anti-patriotic act. Neo-Malthusians, whose desire to control population growth and ameliorate society expressed itself in their support of working-class and women's issues, championed the legalization of abortion and the woman's right to choose. A myriad of literary works during this period represent abortion, including Alexandre Boutique Les Malthusiennes ( 1893), Daniel Riche Stérile ( 1898), Emile Zola Féconditié ( 1899), Lucien Décaves La Clarière ( 1900), Paul Bru Le Droit d'être mère ( 1901), Michel Corday Sésame ou la maternité consentie ( 1903), André Couvreur La Graine ( 1903), Jeanne Caruchet

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The Feminist Encyclopedia of French Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Note x
  • A Feminist History of French Literature xi
  • Bibliography xv
  • Bibliography xx
  • Bibliography xxiii
  • Bibliography xxvi
  • Bibliography xxx
  • Bibliography xxxv
  • A 3
  • B 34
  • C 72
  • D 137
  • E 171
  • F 195
  • G 223
  • H 250
  • I 266
  • J 275
  • K 280
  • L 287
  • M 333
  • O 400
  • P 404
  • Q 447
  • R 451
  • S 483
  • T 524
  • V 542
  • W 554
  • Y 563
  • Appendix A: General Bibliography 567
  • Appendix B: Chronology of French Women Writers 573
  • Index 585
  • Contributors 631
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