Thursday, April 30, 2009

1917: One of three known abortion deaths for Chicago physician

On April 30, 1917, Mrs. Ruth Lemaire, age 24, died at West Side Hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. In her deathbed statement she implicated Dr. Lillian Hobbs. However, the coroner's jury did not place blame on Hobbs, and the case came to naught.

Hobbs was also convicted of murder in the abortion deaths of Alda Christopherson and Ellen Matson.

These fatal abortions were typical of pre-legalization abortions in that they were performed by a physician.

Note, please, that with overall public health 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 information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.

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

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