On January 15, 1907, 24-year-old housekeeper Sarah Cushing died in Wesley Hospital in Chicago, from complications of a criminal abortion performed there that day. A midwife named Gertrude Plenz was arrested on January 24, and held by the coroner's jury. Mrs. Plenz was also arrested in the abortion death of Margaret McCarthy in 1904. Sarah's abortion was unusual in that it was not performed by a physician.
On January 15, 1915, 22-year-old Margaret Jenickes died in Chicago of infection caused by an abortion perpetrated
that day, presumably by Dr. C.A. Erickson.
Joseph Martin was also held. Though Erickson was indicted on February
1, the case never went to trial because the me wee exonerated by a Grand
Jury. No other suspect in Margaret's death is mentioned in my sources.
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
Eurice Agbagaa, a 26-year-old immigrant from Ghana, went to Abram Zelikman for a safe, legal abortion on January 7, 1989. Zelikman estimated the pregnancy as 11 to 12 12
weeks. He performed the abortion at about 1pm, then sent Eurice to the
recovery room. Over the next 2 1/2 hours, Eurice bled so heavily that the receptionist,
Yolanda Penalzer, became alarmed and asked Zelikman to do something.
Zelikman told her that the bleeding was normal and that she should put
an ice bag on the patient. He then left the facility, leaving Yolada to
care for the patients in recovery.
Yolanda continued to be concerned about Eurice's bleeding, and tried
repeatedly to reach Zelikman at his home, but couldn't contact him.
Finally she called an ambulance. The ambulance crew found Yolanda
performing CPR on Eurice, who was in shock. They were able to restore
her breathing and transport her to a hospital, where an emergency
hysterecomy was done. It was determined that Eurice had actually been at
least 19 weeks pregnant. Eurice had a perforated uterus and severed
abdominal artery. Eurice survived the surgery and was put on life support, but remained in
a coma until her death in the early morning of January 15.