On December 31, 1917, 40-year-old homemaker Victoria Chmileuski died in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated by Wilhemena Benn, whose profession is given only as "abortion provider," though she was actually a licensed midwife. Benn was acquitted on March 7, 1918.
Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not
using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions
and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely
little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and
illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was
probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good.
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.
Fast-forward to the enlightened post-Roe era.
Sylvia Moore underwent a safe and legal abortion at the hands of Arnold Bickham
(pictured) on New Year's Eve of 1986 at his Urgent Medical Care Clinic in Chicago.
the abortion, 48-year-old Bickham gave Sylvia repeated injections of
Demerol because she was reporting severe abdominal cramps. According
to her mother, Sylvia was bleeding, weak, and unable to walk. When
Sylvia tried to get to her feet and collapsed, Bickham called her
"lazy," put her in a wheelchair, and physically ejected her from his
Chicago clinic. Sylvia's
mother took her to a nearby hospital, where staff tried in vain to save
Sylvia, who had arrived with no pulse and no blood pressure. An
emergency hysterectomy was done to remove her lacerated uterus, which
still had a plastic instrument embedded in a 6.5 cm laceration. Sylvia
also had a 2.2 cm laceration of her vagina. Despite the surgery, she bled to death. The medical examiner was so appalled at Bickham's treatment of Sylvia that he declared the manner of death to be homicide, but no charges were ever filed.
Bickham had already had his license suspended for performing abortions on women who weren't actually pregnant. He also was found negligent in the 1978 abortion death of Sherry Emry.