Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Podcast: Dayton on Abortion in 18th-Century New England

Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut, is interviewed on Kelley Therese Pollock's Unsung History podcast about Abortion in 18th Century New England:

In 1742, in Pomfret, Connecticut, 19-year-old Sarah Grosvenor discovered she was pregnant, the result of a liaison with 27-year-old Amasa Sessions. Instead of marrying Sarah, Amasa provided her with a physician-prescribed abortifacient, what the youth of Pomfret called “taking the trade." When that didn’t work to end the pregnancy, the physician attempted a manual abortion, which led to Sarah’s death. Three years later, the physician was tried for “highhanded Misdemeanour." The surviving trial documentation gives us an unusually detailed look into the reproductive lives of Connecticut youths in the mid-18th Century.

Joining me in this episode to help us learn more about the Sarah Grosvenor case and its historical context is Dr. Cornelia H. Dayton, Professor of History at the University of Connecticut and author of the 1991 article, “Taking the Trade: Abortion and Gender Relations in an Eighteenth-Century New England Village,” in The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 1, 1991, pp. 19–49, and co-creator of the Taking the Trade website.
--Dan Ernst