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‘»Removes All Obstacles»: The Place of Abortifacients in Nineteenth Century Toronto

Author(s): Johanna Kelly ; Andrea Carnevale ; Denise McGuire

Year: 2014

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A bottle embossed with ‘Sir J. Clarke’s Female Pills’ was found during the excavation of the original location of Toronto’s first hospital, which opened in 1829 and was in operation at the corner of King and John Streets until 1854. The commonly accepted perception is that abortion was frowned upon and prosecuted. In reality abortion was a wide-spread practice and, if not explicitly, then covertly practiced at the major medical facility in the city. The Toronto General Hospital was intended to service the poor and emigrants and ‘female pills’ is an example of the types of abortive medicines which were widely accessible to those who could not afford a procedure with an abortionist. Where do these abortive medicines fit into the larger framework of reproductive health operating within the social, political, and cultural frameworks of the time?

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‘»Removes All Obstacles»: The Place of Abortifacients in Nineteenth Century Toronto. Johanna Kelly, Andrea Carnevale, Denise McGuire. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436693)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-13,05

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America