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Changing Attitudes Toward Therapeutic Abortion

Kenneth R. Niswander, MD; Morton Klein, MD; Clyde L. Randall, MD
JAMA. 1966;196(13):1140-1143. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100260078022.
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Few topics are as controversial as that of therapeutic abortion. Not long ago the news media reported fully the predicament of the pregnant women who had taken thalidomide. The necessity for one woman to go to Sweden to obtain an abortion previously denied her in this country dramatized the plight of these women and ignited further discussion. Many people were ready to reconsider the probability that there are conditions which justify the termination of a pregnancy, in which case, the means to such termination should be made legally available. The question remains so controversial, however, that even when the policy of a particular hospital is well established, some staff members diligently work to tighten the requirements for abortion, whereas others strive to liberalize hospital policy.

Evidence is accumulating, nevertheless, that our attitudes toward abortion are changing. Ashley Montagu1 has pointed out the manner in which our society may abandon


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