Thursday, December 30, 2010

1904: Dying woman implicates doc in fatal abortion

On Saturday, December 30, 1904, Stella Murgatroyd died at the home of her parents just outside Jacksonville, Illinois.

At first her illness was blamed on pneumonia, but the doctor who treated her recognized the symptoms of a botched abortion and questioned Stella. She made a dying declaration naming the father of her unborn child, and the doctor who had performed the fatal abortion.

The postmotrem examination verified that Stella had indeed died from an abortion.

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 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

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