Wednesday, January 09, 2013

1918 and the 1980s

On January 9, 1918, 39-year-old Mary Cusack, a widowed homemaker, died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. William A. McFarlane. He was indicted on January 15, 1918, but the case never went to trial. Mary was an immigrant from Ireland.

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.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Moving ahead to the era of safe, legal abortions.

Sharon Davis was a 17-year-old high school student, 14 weeks pregnant, when she submitted to an abortion at a hospital in Tucumcari, New Mexico on September 20, 1982. Her uterus and bowel were perforated, and she developed an infection. For over three months, she was treated for her infection before she died on January 9, 1983.

Twenty-five-year-old Rita Goncalves took ill after her safe and legal abortion in late 1983. At some point after her abortion, she was taken to Roger Williams General Hospital in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. There, she died on January 9, 1984, from abortion complications.

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