Monday, March 07, 2011

1908: Woman jailed for fatal abortion

On March 7, 1908, Nellie M. Shuff, aka Mrs. E. C. Coulter, age 26, of New Berling, Illinois, died at a Chicago residence. The coroner's jury determined that she died from comlications of an abortion.

Johanna White, whose profession was not given, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to Joliet for the death.

Nellie's abortion was atypical in that it was not performed by a physician.

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 about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

Illegal by Doctors Illegal by Paramedical Illegal by Amateurs Self Induced

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

Sources: Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database

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