Friday, April 30, 2010

Today's anniversaries

1917: One of three known deaths at hands of Chicago doc:

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.

1923: Back-alley death in Chicago

On April 30, 1923, 29-year-old Emma Herod died in her home from an abortion performed there that day. Dr. Emma J. Warren was arrested for the death. On July 15, Warren was indicted for felony murder in Emma Herod's death.

Emma's abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

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

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