Friday, March 15, 2013

A Chicago Midwife and an Unknown Perp

On March 15, 1915, 22-year-old homemaker Elenora Cassidy died at Cook County Hospital after being treated for two days for septicemia. Before her death, Elinor named Julia Patara as the guilty abortionist, and indicated that the abortion had been done at Patara's house on March 6. Patara was indicted for Elinor's death on March 15 by a Grand Jury, but the case never went to trial.

On March 15, 1917, 24-year-old waitress Celia Steele died at Chicago's Jefferson Park Hospital from septicemia and purulent peritonitis caused by a criminal abortion. The coroner was unable to identify the guilty party.

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 issues, during the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

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