Monday, January 12, 2009

1900: Physician kills housemate in criminal abortion

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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Joe said...

So she killed a child and mother on January 12 and another child and mother on January 22?

It appears she was let out on bail and given an opportunity to kill again.

The moral of this story is that in the future we must make sure that criminal abortionists are ALWAYS kept in jail awaiting trial and while on trial for their crimes.

If they are let out, they WILL kill again (or try to), certainly children and possibly mothers also.

GrannyGrump said...

That's a big part of why I post the criminal abortion deaths as well as the safe-n-legal ones -- so that we can learn from history and not repeat our mistakes. We need to make sure the quacks stay locked up, and we need to give conscientious physicians the tools they need to help abortion-minded women. Mary Calderone had some good proposals, but nobody listened to her; they were too gung-ho on facilitating abortion rather than preventing it.