The subject of the following pages is one of grave importance to the
whole community. Within a few years a practice, at first considered an
outrage against propriety, a criminal offence, has silently grown into
The introduction of men into the lying-in chamber, in place of female
attendants, has increased the sufferings and dangers of childbearing women,
and brought multiplied injuries and fatalities upon mothers and children;
it violates the sensitive feelings of husbands and wives, and causes an
untold amount of domestic misery; the unlimited intimacy between a numerous
profession and the female population silently and effectually wears away
female delicacy and professional morality, and tends, probably more than
any other cause in existence, to undermine the foundations of public virtue.
Honorable physicians are not aware of the amount of iniquity which grows
out of the practice, or, from a regard to the general good, and to their
own families and friends, they would be willing to give it up, whatever
might be the pecuniary sacrifice to themselves.
Some of my remarks may seem severe, but they are intended only for those
to whom they apply. I disclaim any design to cast suspicions on the character
or conduct of worthy members of the profession. But still they are blamable,
and will continue to be, so long as they countenance a custom which tends
to destroy that scrupulous delicacy, that sacred reserve, which Heaven
has ordained to be observed between the sexes; so long as they participate
in a practice which breaks down all barriers, and affords the most unbounded
liberties and temptations to the unprincipled and licentious.
It is to be hoped that no one will allow unreasonable jealousy
to take possession of him while reading this work. A due degree of that
feeling is indispensable in the present state of human nature; one strong
passion has been implanted to combat another; lust assails, and jealousy
must defend. But husbands, at the present day, seem to have such a horror
of being thought a prey to the 'green-eyed monster,' that they have gone
to the opposite extreme, and permit other gentlemen to take liberties
which a decent regard for themselves and their wives should forbid.
This sensitive regard is, however, very strong in many who rarely manifest
it. Husbands have told me that they had no children, and wished to have
none, if they must have a doctor to bring them into the world. And many
wives have the same feelings on this subject.
Not only wives, but daughters and young female friends, are exposed to
the familiarity of physicians, as if the latter were infinitely purer
than the rest of humanity.
A person has only to give a little attention to this subject, consider
the tendencies of the practice, and learn how full it is of abominations,
and he will feel an utter detestation of it, and a determination to aid
in restoring to woman those delicate duties which Scripture and history,
reason and propriety, all proclaim are hers.
BOSTON, January, 1848.