Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1922: The tragic intersection of two Marys

Mary Gresky took ill, dying of blood poisoning on September 20, 1922, from a criminal abortion performed with some sort of instrument on September 16.

On her deathbed, she named Mary Vargo as the perpetrator who used some sort of instrument on her.

Mary Vargo was found guilty of criminal malpractice, but won an appeal on the grounds of of improper instructions to the jury, irregularities of the admission of the deathbed statement, and failure to prove that the abortion had been part of a prior pattern of criminal activity by Mary Vargo.

I have been unable to determine Mary Vargo's profession. However, given the charge of criminal malpractice, she was likely some sort of medical professional, perhaps a nurse or a midwife..

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 in the 1920s.

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

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