Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Anniversary: Doc implicated in deathbed statement

On Saturday, July 1, 1882, Gussie Ellergood of Carlisle, Illinois, died in a St. Louis hospital. She had been admitted the previous Wednesday after having taken sick. Her death was due to a botched abortion.

Gussie was a servant working in the home of Dr. Edgar Park.

She made a deathbed statement naming Dr. R. McWilliams as her abortionist, though McWilliams denied any knowledge of her.

I have no information on overall maternal mortality, or abortion mortality, in the 19th century. I imagine it can't be too much different from maternal and abortion mortality at the very beginning of the 20th Century.

Note, please, that with ordinary 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 on this era, see Abortion Deaths in the 19th Century.

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

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