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Man-Midwifery Exposed and Corrected
Gregory, Samuel
Published by George Gregory, New York
Location of original: Countway Rare Books, Harvard University
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quality, a virtue which cannot exist but with purity of heart. In the submission of women to the unnecessary examinations of physicians, exposing the secrets of nature, it is forgotten that every indecency of this kind is a violent attack against chastity; that every situation which causes an internal blush is a real prostitution."
'It is very certain, where these exposures have been most numerous, as in large cities, here adultery has been most frequent.
'Be it folly or prejudice, or not, there is a value in the belief, that the husbands' hands alone are to have access to his sacred wife. Break through the prejudice, if you please to call it so, but for once, unless powerful reasons command it, the Rubicon is passed; and rely upon it, the barriers, on future emergencies, will not be so insuperable. Time and opportunity to press on a grateful heart, for a favor in regions where magnified favors have been conferred, have been used and more frequently desired. To convince you of this, you will not require me to enter into the secret history of adultery.
'Many of these modest-looking doctors, inflamed with the thoughts of the well-shaped bodies of the women they have delivered, handled, hung over for hours, secretly glorying in the privilege, have to their patients, as priests to their penitents, pressed for accomodation, and driven to adultery and madness where they were thought most innocently occupied. In one case, I was well assured that a physician in Charleston, infuriated with the sight of the woman he had just delivered, leaped into her bed before she was restored to a state of nature. The melancholy tale of the seduction of the wife of a member of congress from Carolina, by her accoucheur, is a warning that ought not to be disregarded. The beautiful organization of the lady preyed upon his mind for years; he sought her from one to the other extremity of the country, regardless of all dangers; and on acquiring his game received a premature death---leaving horror and ruin in the family he had been hired to serve.
'Whatever you may think on this subject, there are many husbands to whom the idea of their wives' exposure is horribly distressing. I have heard of cases affording singular mixtures of the distressing with the ludicrous. In one case in my neighborhood, the husband sent for his physician to his wife in labor, yet was so strongly excited at the idea of her exposure, that he very solemnly declared to the doctor, that if he touched his wife, or looked
at her, he would demolish him! No man possessed of a correct and delicate regard for his wife, would subject her to any exposure to a doctor, that could be avoided without danger.
'But the opposition, the detestation of this practice cannot be so great in any husband as among some women. The idea of it has driven some to convulsions and derangement; and every one of the least delicacy feels deeply humiliated at the exposure. Many of them, while in labor, have been so shocked by the entrance of a man into their apartment, as to have all their pains banished. Others, to the very last of their senses suffering the severest torments, have rejected the assistance of men. To be instrumental in relieving one of this truly interesting cast, will be a heavenly consolation to all who can be alive to the pleasures of serving the virtuous.
'If all other considerations united cannot induce you to attend to this subject, the mechanical advantage between a man's and delicate woman's hand, ought to command your decision in favor of employing and encouraging female assistants. Such is the confined organization of the parts for our birth, and such the large size of man's hands, that I verily believe as much mischief as good has been done by them, as has been stated by more extensive observers than myself.
'The rule that I would prescribe to the females for whom I felt the most affection and solicitude, would be this: On no account submit to the interference of men in common labor; do it most readily in the uncommon cases, when a midwife under the direction of a physician cannot afford relief. I will venture to add, that there is not a physician, disinterested, of sound sense, who would not approve of the rule. The best authors on midwifery decidedly recommend it.'
Such is the testimony of Dr. Ewell---sound, candid, disinterested. Against the injurious and immoral custom he speaks with an earnestness and plainnesss of speech, characteristic of a noble and pure-minded man. Some passages in the extract are very striking, and the reader will do well to re-peruse it. Nothing is more true than that, when human nature has been subjected tothis ordeal, and that has been perpetrated with Buffon calls 'une vraie defloration,' the Rurbicon has been passed, by both parties, and the barriers between them are not insuperable, unless there is stern virtue, high-toned moral principle; for to take the only remaining step is very easy, and seems compara-
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