|"Dépopulation", mortality and abortion in the French "belle époque".|
|In 1890, a debate relating to "the causes of the slow growth of the French population" begins in the parisian Académie Nationale de Médecine. This major subject, which had been tackled in different places for more than two decades, becomes a medical issue.
The proceedings of the sessions reveal the existence of a struggle between a minority of members who claim for pronatalist measures, and a majority of hygienists arguing that there is no best remedy than carrying on the great medical effort to reduce death rate.
A topic interferes in the debate : the problem of "criminal abortion". Unlike one could suppose, the effects of this practice on the population were not at that time considered as explaining "dénatalité"; they were mainly evoked by hygienists as a component of death rate. How can the structure of medical specialization, and the individual trajectories and experiences of the French physicians, contribute to explain the interest in "criminal abortion"? What kind of empirical sources and statistical materials do they use ? Which perception of abortion does the specificity of this approach (focused on mortality )imply ?
It is only from the 1900's that the abortion problem gets linked to the questions of natalité. This change follows the development of new quantitative estimates. We can ask if this revival has modified the debates about "dépopulation".|