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Reproduction and Its Discontents in MexicoChildbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905$
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Nora E. Jaffary

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469629391

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469629391.001.0001

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(p.104) 4 Infanticide
Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico

Nora E. Jaffary

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter uses criminal cases, legal codes, and newspaper coverage to track Mexicans’ changing attitudes toward the crime of infanticide from the colonial period through the nineteenth century. While rarely denounced during the colonial era, when those convicted of infanticide would theoretically be sentenced with the death penalty, denunciations for the crime skyrocketed at the close of the nineteenth century at the same time as sentences were reduced to imprisonment. This chapter argues that the rise in denunciations reflects a change in popular conceptions of maternity and of female honor rather than merely a shift in the Porfirian state’s increased vigilance about policing the criminal acts of Mexican society’s lower orders. Although conviction rates also rose in later periods, Mexican justices most often absolved those suspected of the crime due to insufficient evidence.

Keywords:   Honor, infanticide, judges, maternity, penal code, sexual honor

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