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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

The Contagious Diseases Acts

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The Medical Times and Gazette p. 671
The Medical Times and Gazette p. 672

The Contagious Diseases Acts is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Medical Times and Gazette on 16 june 1883 (p. 671-672 in volume 1883) within the article titled The Week. Topics of the day.


The Contagious Diseases Acts

This letter, from Dr. A. Conan Doyle, of Portsmouth, runs thus: "As an ounce of fact is proverbially superior to an indefinite quantity of theory, I think that I am justified in citing one or two instances of the effects of the present suspension of the Acts. Being in practice as a medical man in the town most affected by the measure, I am able to speak with some authority on the subject. Last week a large transport entered Portsmouth Harbour with time-expired men from India. Upon the same day several diseased women left the hospital presumably with the intention of meeting that transport, and there was no law to prevent it. I say that if an unfortunate soldier, coming home to his native land after an absence of years, and exposed to such temptations, should yield to them, and entail disease upon himself and his offspring, the chief fault should not lie at his door. It surely emanates logically from those hysterical legislators who set loose these bearers of contagion, and their like, upon society. For fear delicacy should be offended where no touch of delicacy exists, dreadful evils.are to result, men to suffer, children to die, and pure women to inherit unspeakable evils. Loose statements and vague doctrines of morality may impose upon hasty thinkers, but surely, when the thing is reduced to its simplest terms, it becomes a matter of public calamity that these Acts should be suspended for a single day, far more for an indefinite period. The apostles of free trade in infection have worked to such good purpose that within a few weeks the streets of our naval stations have become pandemonia, and immorality is rampant where it lately feared to show its face. Property has depreciated near all the public-houses since the suspension of the Acts, on account of the concourse of vile women whose uproar and bad language make night hideous. I venture to say that, were the old laws enforced again to-morrow, there would still in a hundred years' time be many living who could trace inherited mental or physical deformity to the fatal interregnum which the champions of the modesty of harlots had brought about."





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