Saturday, March 07, 2009

A fatal case from 1908

On March 7, 1908, Nellie M. Shuff, aka Mrs. E. C. Coulter, age 26, of New Berling, Illinois, died at a Chicago residence. The coroner's jury determined that she died from comlications of an abortion.

Johanna White, whose profession was not given, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to Joliet for the death.

Nellie's abortion was atypical in that it was not performed by a physician.

Note, please, that with issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion


Lilliput said...

Hi Christina

Was wondering if you had any thoughts about this story:,8599,1883598,00.html

GrannyGrump said...

A horrible situation made even more horrible. Why do people get it into their heads that killing babies solves things? That little girl isn't even ten years old yet, and she's the mother of two dead children, killed without her really even being able to understand what was going on.

It's so much easier and faster for people to just do an abortion and forget the girl ever existed than it is to go through the pregnancy and aftermath with her, whether an adoption plan or the children being raised by her family.

liat said...

I agree with you about the fact that it is a horrible situation but there the doctor said her 9 year old physical body may not have been able to carry the pregnancy and could have caused her real physical harm in the future.

There is also of course an issue about whether its better psychologically for the 9 year old to mourn her babies rather then to have them taken away from her for adoption - where she will forever wonder if they are OK?

Her family is obviously not the right place to put any children as otherwise this 9 year old would not have ended up abused.

All of this happening in a very overpopulated poor country like Brazil where there are too many unwanted children as it is?

These are the thoughts of the prochoice people - at least they are thoughts. I cannot find any prolife article or argument for her keeping the babies - other then a Christian G-d said so?

Can any of you help me find any?

GrannyGrump said...

This girl wasn't in any immediate danger; it's just that whoever her family brought her to made a judgment call that she was better off with a risky late term abortion of twins than she was with being under medical care until the twins were mature enough to deliver. From what I've seen, there are plenty of doctors who are ready to recommend an abortion at the drop of a hat, either due to their own personal beliefs about who ought to be having kids, or due to their ideological commitment to abortion. And I'd bet the farm that this was the case with this girl -- that we had a doctor with an ideological commitment to "liberalizing" the abortion law who saw in this girl a chance to get a foot in the door and paint abortion as some wonderful, palliative thing. And if we should give it to this girl, why not to all the others?

No dice.

Gotta run so no time to get to everything else right now. If you're still interested, ask again so it'll pop into my inbox and I'll get to it later.