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“Why do the wicked still live, continue on, also become very powerful? They spend their days in prosperity, and suddenly they go down to Hell.” —Job 21:7,13

Leslie Printice Leads Anti-Abortion Rally,
December 3, 1846

New York City in the 19th Century probably surpassed all others in political corruption and depraved popular culture; often the two were bound up together. One aspect of that depravity related to the extent and popularity of abortion, especially among the wealthier inhabitants. According to New York law, abortion was legal prior to “quickening,” that is, before a woman’s awareness of fetal movement. Since 1828, after about the fourth month of pregnancy, a person found guilty of performing an abortion could be charged with second-degree manslaughter, which carried a hundred dollar fine or a year in jail. The queen of abortion providers was an English immigrant, Ann Trow Lohman, known professionally as Madame Restell. In the mid-1840s, one of her chief antagonists was a young widow named Leslie Printice.

Trow married New Yorker Charles Lohman in 1836, a printer for the New York Herald. He introduced her to the writings of Robert Dale Owen, son of the founder of the utopian socialist community of New Harmony, Indiana. Robert Dale ran the day-to-day operations of that experiment and wrote extensively on a variety of topics, including birth control. Elected to Congress, he spearheaded various social “reform” measures, several related to “women’s issues.” Charles Lohmman published tracts on population control and contraception. His wife took up the cause with abortifacient pills and powders and started what became a lucrative abortion provider business.

Ann Trow Lohman “Madamde Restell” (1812-1878)

Trading as Madame Restell, Lohman would provide the services for abortion at an “income-adjusted” fee; the wealthy paid a lot more for her services than did the poor. When the pills did not work (which was frequent), she used instruments to pierce the amniotic sac to induce miscarriage. She became a millionaire plying her death-dealing wares in six different clinics with branch agencies in Newark, Philadelphia and Boston.

Brick Presbyterian Church, New York

Pastor Gardiner Spring (1785-1873)

Leslie Printice, a recently widowed member of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, pastored by the renowned Gardiner Spring, “was encouraged by his sermons on child-killing to take a bold and active stand.” She invited to her home lawyers, politicians, judges and community leaders and along with pro-life physicians, she laid out the facts of the abortion industry. Through her church, she set up the New York Parent and Child Committee to battle the abortion trade. They established prayer networks, sidewalk counseling shifts, and alternative care programs with Christian doctors. The Committee organized protests at the abortion clinics of Madame Restell. George Grant records that Leslie “led a rally outside Lohman’s lavish home on December 3, 1846, that was emotional, physical and fierce.” The next year when Restell again went to trial on manslaughter charges; she had been convicted five years earlier of minor infractions and the publicity had been a boon to her business. Wealthy politicians and businessmen were among the Madame’s best customers, and her payoffs were usually effective. Nonetheless, Leslie attended the trial with several children who had escaped the butcher. She remained steadfast in her testimony, despite death threats from gangsters on Restell’s payroll.

Blackwell Island Prison, New York

The Madame was found guilty, but only of a misdemeanor, and spent a year on Blackwell Island prison, though in virtual luxury. Once out of prison she returned immediately to her baby-killing business which kept New York City the abortion capital of America. Although Leslie Printice’s efforts were only partially successful in her day, she had uncovered the “she devil” and her bloody businesses for all to see. Fifty years later the Governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, recognized Mrs. Printice’s efforts in helping to inspire the state’s tougher legislation and enforcement in the years following. Her intense efforts on behalf of women and the unborn bore fruit that she herself would never see. Such is how the Lord often works, with people remaining faithful in their own day, but the fruit of their labors occurring in future generations.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) c. 1904

  1. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, by Burrows and Wallace, Chapter 45.

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