Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Denver Deaths, 1923 & 1929

According to the National Organization for Women web site, Ruth Friedl was a married, 27-year-old mother of two. NOW's site said that pregnancy was life-threatening for Ruth, but they don't specify why, nor do they say why she was denied an abortion, since there were always exceptions made for abortions deemed necessary to save the mother's life. NOW says that Ruth drank ergot apiol, an herbal abortifacient, on August 21, 1929. That night, according to NOW, Ruth collapsed at the dinner table in front of her husband and children, and died on the spot. I'd welcome any verifying information on Mrs. Friedl's death. If NOW's story is true, Ruth's abortion was unusual in that it was self-induced rather than performed by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

On August 21, 1923, 32-year-old Catherine Stange died in Denver of septicemia due to an abortion blamed on Dr. Daniel R. Lucy. This was quite the scandal, since in addition to being a doctor, Lucy was a city councilman. His high position also meant that he was given warning of his pending arrest for second degree murder, to give him time to arrange bail. Lucy's only comment to the press after being told of the charge against him was to note that he was not surpirsed, that this was what he had expected from the coroner's jury. He was later acquitted of the charges. 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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