Abortion, Society, and Gender
Abortion is arguably the most controversial topic in all the issues revolving around reproduction. Women of all different races, classes, and religions have been practicing abortion since before the colonial era in America. The laws pertaining to abortion have changed many times, adding and removing discrepancies and stipulations throughout many years, and still to this day. The views of abortion in society during different time periods have also changed and adapted. At the time of Sarah Grosvenor’s decision to abort, the laws pertaining to abortion did not make the act fully illegal. However in years after Grosvenor’s case abortion was outlawed. The law played a minor part in women’s decisions to have an abortion, however society, and gender played the most prominent role in the decision of abortion.
Cornelia Hughes Dayton, the author of the article “Taking the Trade: Abortion and Gender Relations in an Eighteenth-Century New England Village,” found in Women and Health in America, describes the common argument as to why abortion may have taken place. In the article Dayton discusses a couple, Sarah Grosvenor and Amasa Sessions, that had a sexual relationship that led to pregnancy, and then abortion in 1742, a time when abortion was not illegal, but was not accepted completely by society. The issue in the Grosvenor-Sessions case was that Grosvenor died after John Hallowell performed an abortion. A case was initiated three years after Sarah’s death to investigate her death as a murder committed by Hallowell, Sessions, Sarah’s sister, and her cousin (the last three being accessories to the murder). Sarah Grosvenor’s sister and cousin’s charges were dropped and no punishment occurred. For Sessions and Hallowell both were viewed as guilty, but neither faced actual punishment for their involvement in the abortion. The fact that a young woman died due to an abortion began to raise questions and morality issues among the people...
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