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Religious opposition to obstetric anaesthesia: A Myth?

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It has frequently been suggested that science and religion are innately in conflict. One example from the history of medicine is the introduction of anaesthesia into obstetrics in 1847, which is commonly said to have stimulated massive religious opposition. Historians have almost unanimously averred that such opposition arose from the belief that obstetric anaesthesia interfered with the primeval curse— ‘In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children' (Genesis 3. 16). Despite considerable opposition to obstetric anaesthesia upon medical, physiological, and general moral grounds, evidence of genuine religious opposition in contemporary sources has proved to be virtually non-existent. On examination, this particular ‘conflict' appears to be an artifact of historiography based upon a contemporary defence prepared against an attack which never materialized.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Tullochvenus House, Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire, AB3 4RN, Scotland

Publication date: March 1, 1983

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