On December 14, 1911, 34-year-old mother-of-four Mrs. Ella Kettler died from an abortion that Dr. Robert H. Foster had perpetrated at his practice on December 2. Foster was held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted on December 19, but the case never went to trial.
On December 14, 1916, 19-year-old Eleanor Dillon, who worked as a clerk,
died at Chicago's Columbus Hospital from a criminal abortion
perpetrated by Dr. M.R. Perlstein
that day. Perlstein was arrested December 15, and Michael Schackman and
Abraham Kruchersky were held as accessories. Perlstein was acquitted on
May 18, 1918.
Walter Hufnagel of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, noticed on December 4, 1918, that
his wife, 19-year-old Emma Hufnagel, was sick with body aches. The next day he
called Dr. C. Barton, who diagnosed the young homemaker with influenza. By December 7, Emma's stepmother, Louise Jackson, was told of Emma's illness
and went to visit her. Emma
told her mother that, since her period had been about two weeks late,
and believing herself to be pregnant, she had used a catheter on herself
on November 30. By December 10, Emma's family was so alarmed by her condition that they brought her
to Presbyterian Hospital. In spite of doctors' best efforts, Emma died
of peritonitis and septicemia on December 14.
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.
Edith Cote was 38 years old when she submitted to a safe and legal abortion in New York. On December 14, 1991, she was unresponsive and was taken to the emergency room at Syosset Hospital. Hospital staff were unable to save Edith's life. Her cause of death was listed on her death certificate as pulmonary amniotic embolism after an induced abortion.