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.
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.