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This Day in Georgia History

February 25, 1876

First Abortion Law

Gov. James M. Smith signed Georgia’s first abortion law defining and providing punishment for feticide and criminal abortion. According to sections II and III of that act:

Sec. II. Be it further enacted, That every person who shall administer to any woman pregnant with a child, any medicine, drug, or substance whatever, or shall use or employ any instrument or other means, with intent thereby to destroy such child, unless the same shall have been necessary to preserve the life of such mother, or shall have been advised by two physicians to be necessary for such purpose, shall, in case the death of such child or mother be thereby produced be declared guilty of an assault with intent to murder.

Sec. III. Be it further enacted, That any person who shall wilfully administer to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug or substance, or anything whatever, or shall employ any instrument or means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage or abortion of any such woman, unless the same shall have been necessary to preserve the life of such woman, or shall have been advised by two physicians to be necessary for that purpose, shall upon conviction, be punished as prescribed in section 4310 of the Revised Code of Georgia [which covers punishment for misdemeanors].