Jeannie’s Demise

Between the Lines. Oct. 2020. 175p. ISBN 9781771135139. pap. $29.95. CRIME
In the 1870s, Ontario, Canada, experienced an immigration boom, with thousands of people from the UK and the United States flocking in droves—including Jeannie Gilmour, who arrived in 1872 from Scotland with her preacher father and siblings. Three years later, she was discovered dead in a makeshift grave in Toronto. The cause? An illegal abortion with a dire outcome. Radforth (formerly, history, Univ. of Toronto; Bushworkers and Bosses) digs deep into the details of the three cases spawned by her death—that of the two abortionists; that of the man who procured the abortion for Gilmour; and that of the man who helped conceal her death. The author makes comparisons with similar cases throughout Canada, some of which include the same cast of characters. Most of the book passes as pure historical narrative: who did what, where, and when. However, Radforth also draws connections between this case and the struggle to ensure abortion remains legal and accessible, which some readers may find polarizing.
VERDICT A solid addition to any true crime collection, this work implores us to consider the human costs of criminalizing abortion.
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