The chilling history behind a museum's disembodied uterus

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15 Responses to “The chilling history behind a museum's disembodied uterus”

  1. Michael Belcher says:

    I went on a field trip, in college, to the Hunterian museum last year. The park across the street is so nice, the building is very pretty, and the specimens… are all floating in glass jars. 
    The craziest thing though? The kid’s section. Not specimens of kids, but a special section set aside for small children filled with animal (mostly sea life) specimens, and different activities for them to do, like sketching specimens they found interesting. 
    That sounds great and all, but to get to the kid’s section one has to walk past the body parts, skeletons, abnormalities, and finally past the historical surgical instruments to get there. 

  2. teapot says:

    There is a pic of said uterus in the linked article and it looks nothing like I’d imagine.
    http://thechirurgeonsapprentice.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/uterus2.jpg

    • Ultan says:

       Yeah, that does not look at all like a uterus – maybe just the inner lining. Uteri are extremely solid and dense, the consistency of a rubber ball.

      Far more noisome are ordinary placentae, which smell something like rotting liver, and are surprisingly big and ugly. Unlike most specimens, placentae are generally kept fresh for examination, with no formalin or alcohol. Pathologists often have to poke through placentas of miscarriages for fetal bits, though often none are found, even well into the 2nd trimester.

  3. chgoliz says:

    How do they know she was specifically committing suicide as opposed to taking something she was told would cause her to abort?

    • It’s true – it may have been an attempt to abort the baby, although arsenic was not typically used for this purpose in the 18th century. The story told is based on the facts listed in the surgeon’s casebook published in 1840. Thanks for reading! 

  4. rattypilgrim says:

    Same old same old. Woman gets pregnant, takes the rap, footman walks off scott free.
    I would also hesitate to call a 1 month old fetus an unborn child unless you mean to meld minds with Pat Robertson, Michele Bachman, Rick Santorum, et al.
    chgoliz might be on to something. Abortions are as old as history and maybe that’s exactly what this poor woman was trying to accomplish. Imagine how much suffering would have been spared women (and their children raised in poverty) if they had birth control 200 years ago. Oh, the way things are going in 21st century USA we will be discussing the same scenario. Same old same old.

  5. Kimmo says:

    Uh, the post had me waiting for my sensibilities to offended, yet there was nothing of the sort implied.

  6. Is the history chilling, because you can feel it in your uterus? 

  7. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Tae help the folk in medical school, word is passed around

    A body nae mair than ten days auld will bring in fourteen pound.

    It’s a terrible thing, but truth tae say,  in this age o’ greed

    A man’s worth little when he’s alive, but plenty when he’s deid.

    An’ it’s doon the close an’ up the stair

    Watch yer back for Burke and Hare

    Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief

    And Knox the man that buys the beef.

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