Friday, February 11, 2011

1861: Doc's fatal efforts

During early 1861, a German physician by the name of John H. Joecken was caring for Mr. Malinken, who was ailing in his Brooklyn home.

On one of his visits, Malinken's 35-year-old wife, Caroline, approached Joecken privately and told him "she did not want to have so many children, and wished to know if it was possible to get rid of her present burthen. The doctor replied that it was the easiest thing imaginable, and that in eight days all would be over."

Joecken set to work on Caroline, "and by the use of drugs as well as instruments succeeded in making her very sick." Over the course of several days her condition deteriorated. She died late Monday night, February 11.

The coroner's jury concluded that Caronline had died from "pyemia, supervening upon metritis, consequent of an abortion produced at the hands of Dr. Joecken." Joecken was arrested.
external image Illegals.png
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 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

Sources: "Death of a Married Woman From the Effects of an Abortion", The Brooklyn Eagle, February 13, 1861

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