Town Hall Seattle: Jennifer Wright with Amelia Bonow — 'Madame Restell: The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Old New York’s Most Fabulous, Fearless, and Infamous Abortionist'

An event in partnership with Town Hall Seattle

Town Hall Seattle and Third Place Books present author Jennifer Wright for a discussion of her book Madame Restell: The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Old New York’s Most Fabulous, Fearless, and Infamous Abortionist. She will be joined in conversation by #ShoutYourAbortion founder Amelia Bonow.

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About the event. . . 

Madame Restell, an industrious immigrant who built her business from the ground up, was a self-taught surgeon on the cutting edge of healthcare in pre-Gilded Age New York.

Her bustling “boarding house” provided birth control, abortions, and medical assistance to thousands of women — rich and poor alike. As her practice expanded, her notoriety swelled, and Restell established herself as a prime target for tabloids, threats, and lawsuits galore. She defiantly flaunted her wealth, parading across the city in designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and bejeweled carriages, rubbing her success in the faces of the many politicians, publishers, fellow physicians, and religious figures determined to bring her down.

Unfortunately for Madame Restell, her rise to the top of her field coincided with “the greatest scam you’ve never heard about”— the campaign to curtail women’s power by restricting their access to both healthcare and careers of their own. Powerful, secular men — threatened by women’s burgeoning independence — were eager to declare abortion sinful, a position endorsed by newly-minted male MDs who longed to edge out their feminine competition and turn medicine into a standardized, male-only practice. In Madame Restell: The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Old New York’s Most Fabulous, Fearless, and Infamous Abortionist, author Jennifer Wright unravels the misogynistic and misleading lies that put women’s lives in jeopardy, arguing to restore Restell to her rightful place in history.

Jennifer Wright is the author of several pop history books, including It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History and Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes That Fought Them (winner of Audible’s Best History Book of 2017). She was also a writer on HBO’s feminist sci-fi series, The Nevers. Previously, she was the political editor-at-large for Harper’s Bazaar. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, fellow writer Daniel Kibblesmith, and their daughter.

Amelia Bonow is the Founding Director of #ShoutYourAbortion, a movement dedicated to broadening the existing cultural discourse around abortion. In 2015, Bonow’s abortion disclosure inspired a viral outpouring of abortion stories on social media, receiving front page coverage from The New York Times, L.A. Times, as well as The New Yorker, ABC’s Nightline, The BBC, Al Jazeera, and CNN.

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