On October 6, 1904, Mrs. Mary Lawson died at Passavant Hospital in Chicago, from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Alois Rassmussen was sentenced to fifteen years at Joliet for the murder, but was able to get a new trial. In this second trial, he was acquitted.
Eleanor Haynes, age 22, died at Hackensack Hospital in New Jersey on October 6, 1937, after indicating that Dr. P. Ralph McFeely
had performed an abortion on her. Eleanor's fiancee claimed no
knowledge of an abortion. McFeely, a school and police physician who was
also president of the local PTA, said that although he was treating
Eleanor for a "minor ailment," he had not performed an abortion. McFeely
was not indicted due to lack of evidence.
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.
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion