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This essay approaches T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land through the lens of the demographic transition (1880-1930), which appeared to contemporaries as an unprecedented crisis. Abortion stood at the heart of this crisis because, unlike contraception, it was not recuperable under the law. In its cultural and discursive effects, abortion resembles modernism. Abortion proves to be the central event of Eliot's epochal poem. Abortion signals, for Eliot, the multiple failures of modernism: as a viable literary project and as a means to reconstitute wholeness at the level of the individual male subject or the level of history.