Nation: The Scarlet A

"I felt like dying "

It looked like a morality play, not a criminal trial. The sobbing 22-year-old defendant resembled Nathaniel Hawthorne's Hester Prynne, who, as Defense Attorney Flora Stuart reminded the jury, "had to wear the letter A and bear the shame and humiliation." This trial, however, took place last week in Bowling Green, Ky., and the A stood not for adultery but for abortion. Under an obscure state statute that allows only licensed physicians to perform abortions after the first trimester, Maria Pitchford was prosecuted for performing an abortion on herself during the 24th week of pregnancy. The penalty: ten...

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