All societies have faced the problem of unwanted pregnancy. A recipe for inducing an abortion has been attributed to the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, who reigned in the 27th century B.C. Egyptian papyri containing information both on birth control and abortion have been found. Views on abortion, however, have varied both between cultures and within the same culture. The Hippocratic oath, which states, "I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy," did not reflect contemporary Greek attitudes, but was derived from the views of Pythagoreans, a minority within the Greek culture. Plato suggested abortion as a method for maintaining the stability of population in his ideal state, _and Aristotle felt that abortion "before she felt life" was the solution when a woman "had the prescribed number of children."
Richard D. Lamm and Steven G. Davison
Yale Review of Law and Social Action:
4, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yrlsa/vol1/iss4/5