Friday, January 07, 2011

1901: Chicago doctor's fatal handiwork

On January 7, 1901, Mrs. Julia K. Pettinger died in her home from an abortion performed there that day. Dr. Maggie Becker was arrested April 24, based on a coroner's verdict that day. Becker was held to grand jury, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 14 years in Joilet Penitentiary.

Julia's abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was 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 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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