Saturday, January 15, 2011

1907: Second patient death pinned on Chicago midwife

On January 15, 1907, 24-year-old Mrs. Sarah Cushing died in Wesley Hospital in Chicago, from complications of a criminal abortion performed there that day. A midwife named Gertrude Plenz was arrested on January 24, and held by the coroner's jury. Mrs. Plenz was also arrested in the abortion death of Margaret McCarthy in 1904.

Sarah's abortion was unusual in that it was not 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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