Blood banks were cutting-edge battlefield medicine just a few years before, and had not yet come into common usage. Blood type compatibility was not yet understood. It wasn't until the late 1930s and early 1940s that things like separating blood products started to come into practice. Antibiotics were not manufactured and used widely until after WWII. (See chart, below)
So keep in mind that things that may seem appalling to us in the early 21st century -- such as performing surgery in one's home -- was not appalling at the time. Things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future.
With that said, I can't find any numbers for abortion mortality prior to 1940. It seems that before that, the information available lumps all maternal mortality together, and abortions can't be sorted out. But we can hazard a guess that the numbers were at least as high as they were in 1940. How much higher? It's hard to say.
So our best guess, based on what I've been able to find, is about 1,400 deaths a year from abortions in the late 1920s and early 1930s -- a number that would combine illegal abortions, the rare "therapeutic abortion" performed as a last-ditch attempt to save a dying woman, and miscarriages.
With that established, let's look at some examples of women who died, and who did their abortions. I did breakdowns for 1930, 1932, 1933-1936, 1937, and 1938-1939. I was unable to find any abortion deaths for 1931.
Here is the breakdown of who performed the fatal abortions I've identified for the 1930s:
*Perpetrator or perpetrator's profession unknown: 15.79%
*Other medical professional: 7.89%
If we just look at the cases in which I was able to determine the profession of the perpetrator, the breakdown looks like this:
*Other medical professional: 9.39%
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion
For more abortion deaths broken down by year, see this post.
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