Saturday, April 30, 2011

Three Chicago Anniversaries

Because the University of Chicago Law School, through the Chicago Historical Homicide Project, transferred handwritten records into an online database, I have far more criminal abortion cases from Chicago than from anywhere else. Today, all three anniversaries were uncovered in that database.

On April 30, 1909, Kelly Stella, age 28, died in Chicago from an abortion performed on April 13. A midwife named Louise Actenberg was held by the coroner's jury but the source document doesn't indicate that there was a trial.

On April 30, 1917, Mrs. Ruth Lemaire, age 24, died at West Side Hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. In her deathbed statement she implicated Dr. Lillian Hobbs. However, the coroner's jury did not place blame on Hobbs, and the case came to naught. Hobbs was also convicted of murder in the abortion deaths of Alda Christopherson and Ellen Matson. These fatal abortions were typical of pre-legalization abortions in that they were performed by a physician.

On April 30, 1923, 29-year-old Emma Herod died in her home from an abortion performed there that day. Dr. Emma J. Warren was arrested for the death. On July 15, Warren was indicted for felony murder in Emma Herod's death. Emma's abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909, Abortion Deaths 1910-1919, Abortion in the 1920s.

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

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