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Easing Abortion

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
From Dioscordes' De Materia Medica
5th century A.D.

The mind-numbing powers of wine, in excess, also may have made more tolerable a women's decision to induce abortion with an excess of a common herb such as rue or pennyroyal, or with something more violent-acting, but assuredly effective as scammony or squirting cucumber. She may have preferred that approach to the very real risks of infection during careless surgery, or to the rigors of home-spun solutions such as being expected to make violent leaps in the air, or being shaken about while astride a draught animal before being heavily "bled" (see Soranus of Ephesus, Gynaecology I.64).