For a long time in human history, global population growth was checked by infant mortality, which ranged from 30-50% and did not start sinking until the beginning of the 1800s in the west. Child murder in the west was prohibited by law around the 1100-1200s, but it continued secretly. Among private people, induced abortion was allowed. In the holy scripts of Hinduism and Brahminism, abortion was prohibited. Hippocrates wrote that doctors should not give women abortifacient. The church father Augustinus stated that it was not within human power to discern when the soul entered the body, a circumstance that forbid abortion. A church meeting in 305 A.D. distanced itself from abortion, and this has been the stand of the Catholic Church ever since. In Sweden, exposing a child to the elements was practiced until the end of the 1200s, when it became prohibited. Protestants punished child murder by death. During 1759-78, 217 women were executed for child-killing. From the 1400s, church law punished abortion, and later, capital and punishment was meted out for it, but a distinction was made if the fetus was alive or stillborn. The law in 1734 punished abortion by the death of all concerned. The death penalty was abolished in 1864. In 1896, Anna Linholm reported to the policy in Uppsala that a midwife had been practicing clandestine abortions. Some of her patients were admitted to hospital for hemorrhaging. She was sentenced to hard labor. During 1851-1903, a total of 1408 abortions were reported to the health service. 90% of these became known because of death caused by obduction. Phosphorus was used for abortion in 1271 cases, arsenic in 62, and mechanical aids in 8 cases. About 1/2 of all female suicides at the end of the 1800s was performed by pregnant women who ate phosphorus. Almost all were unmarried, and 56% carried it out after the 5th month of pregnancy. In 1901, phosphorus was prohibited in Swedish homes. In 1875, free abortions became available. However, the ethical question about whether and when a fetus has a soul is more contemporary and relevant than ever.