On January 12, 1900, Mrs. Ida Henry, age 26, died at the home she shared with Dr. Paulina Bechtel, from complications of an abortion Bechtel had performed on her there that day. Bechtel was held by the Coroner's Jury. Ida's abortion was typical of pre-legal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.
Bechtel was also implicated in the death of Barbara Shelgren shortly thereafter, but was identified as a midwife in that case. According to Leslie Reagan, author of When Abortion Was a Crime, it was common for female physicians to be misidentified as midwives, particularly if they practiced obstetrics.
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion
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