On November 24, 1907, homemaker Lizzie Paulson, age 38, died at County Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed that day. John and Minnie Nelson were arrested and held without bail. John Nelson was sentenced to Joliet for his role in Lizzie's death. John Nelson's profession is given as "outside labor force" and "abortion provider", so likely he was a professional lay abortionist. Lizzie's abortion was unusual in that it was not performed by a physician. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.
>On November 24, 1916, 24-year-old Mrs. M. Marazak died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator. With overall public health issues such as doctors not
using proper aseptic techniques, all surgery was much more risky than it is today. In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal
mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically
in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America.
For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.
Moving ahead to the halcyon days of safe, legal abortion.
Eighteen year old Michelle Madden, a coed, sought a safe and legal abortion
from O.B. Evans at Family Planning Medical Center of Mobile, Alabama.
It was performed on November 18, 1986. Michelle had been taking
medication for epilepsy, and a doctor had told her that her baby would
have birth defects. When
Michelle's parents arrived at the college to take her home for
Thanksgiving, the house mother had sad news for them. Three days after
the abortion, Michelle had collapsed. She was taken to the hospital,
where doctors found a leg bone, two pieces of skull, and some placenta
still in Michelle's uterus. The surgery to save her life was too late. Sepsis had already set in, and Michelle died November 24, three days after she was admitted. Her
parents sued Evans and the facility, and in 1991 a jury awarded them
$10 million in damages. Evans appealed on the grounds that this would
"devastate him financially", because his malpractice insurance would
only cover $1 million. During the appeal, the parties agreed to settle
for $5 million, with the insurance company paying the entire amount.
Evans then sued his insurance company for not having settled with the
family for $1 million prior to the trial, thus subjecting him to
"emotional distress, humiliation, damage to his reputation, and loss of
business" -- such "emotional distress", he asserted, was "so severe that
no reasonable person could be expected to endure it."