Abortion During The 18th And 19th Centuries

743 words - 3 pages

Hiding behind the idea of “restoring” one’s menses, abortion was practiced throughout colonial America. However, abortions weren’t fully considered to be so until after the quickening in pregnancy. Quickening was marked by when the baby would kick, so in a time when not that much was known about the female body quickening was the only thing that confirmed if a woman was pregnant or not. The opinion on abortifacients changed over time and was dependent on who was taking advantage of them. People seemed to be more concerned about the fact that abortions were used to cover up the sin of fornication in the 18th century, whereas in the 19th century the more pressing issue was the fact that married upper- and middle-class women were now using abortifacients just to avoid childbirth.
In the 18th century, Sarah Grosvenor’s death was under a spotlight operated by the court system in Connecticut (Women in America, 117). The reasoning behind this focus on her death was very unusual for her time, the abortion that eventually led to her death. Grosvenor was involved with much older Amasa Sessions, which led to a pregnancy (Women in America, 118). Unlike most other couples that were in similar situations, Sessions had another idea in his mind due to the fact that he was in love with another woman and wanted to continue his relationship with her. After a lot of convincing, Grosvenor agreed to get an abortion (Women in America, 119). An attempted abortion led to the unfortunate end of Grosvenor’s life, and only years after her death did a case open to take action against the lover and doctor behind her death. The town forgave Sessions, but not the doctor responsible, John Hallowell, but he fled before he could face his punishment (Women in America, 118).
This case is so significant in determining the view of abortions in the 18th century because it is very clear that the only thing that mattered most was the sexual transgression between Amasa Sessions and Sarah Grosvenor. The only reason that the two sisters of Grosvenor that knew about the fornication and abortion was not charged was because they were key to charging both Sessions and Hallowell (Women in America, 117)....

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