Thursday, October 18, 2012

Four Pre-Legalization Abortion Deaths

In early October of 1883, a widow only identified as  Mrs. O'Connor died from a criminal abortion in Halifax. "Dr. Archibald Lawson, a prominent physician, has fled to avoid arrest."

On October 18, 1920, 30-year-old homemaker Alice Jolly (or Jolli) died at Chicago's Englewood Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated by somebody who was never identified. 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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 On October 18, 1939, Miss Alice Corbett, age 28, of Brooklyn, New York, died from complications of an illegal abortion. Dr. Allen F. Murphy was sentenced to 2-10 years in Sing-Sing for Alice's death. Alice's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

On October 18, 1942, 23-year-old Harriet Lichtenberg of Brooklyn died in Royal Hospital, the Bronx, from suspected criminal abortion complications. Dr. Henry Katz was indicted for first degree manslaughter in Harriet's death. Harriet's abortion was typical of pre-Roe abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

During the 1940s, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality from abortion. The death toll fell from 1,407 in 1940, to 744 in 1945, to 263 in 1950. Most researches attribute this plunge to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

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1 comment:

JennJ said...

Very interesting. These women lost their lives while trying to take the life of another so sad. But most of them were still performed by doctors.