Norma Greene, a 34-year-old divorcee, went into cardio-respiratory arrest in a Winston-Salem hospital on March 16, 1981. Her death certificate indicates that the arrest was caused by a pulmonary embolism (tissue or air in the lungs) following a recent abortion.
Reports on death of Evelyn Dudley, age 38, indicate that she was treated at Friendship Medical Center in Chicago on March 16, 1973. Later, at home, she collapsed in the driveway. She was taken to a hospital, where attempts to save her failed. Her death was due to shock, hemorrhage from a ruptured cervix and vagina, from "remote abortion." T.R. Mason Howard
(pictured) stated that Evelyn was treated at Friendship for infection
sustained in an abortion in Detroit. But Evelyn's brother stated that
she had come to Chicago specifically to have the abortion.
Julia Rogers and Dorothy Brown also died after abortions at Friendship Medical Center.
As you can see
from the graph below, abortion deaths were falling dramatically before
legalization. This steep fall had been in place for decades. To argue
that legalization lowered abortion mortality simply isn't supported by
On March 16, 1924, 35-year-old Selma Hedlund died in Chicago's Jefferson Park Hospital (pictured) from complications of an abortion performed that day. The sources says that she died at the crime scene.
Nobody was ever positively identified as the abortionist. However, a
Carl Carlson, indicated as a person known to Selma, was arrested as an
On March 16, 1915, 19-year-old saleslady Hazel Wilcox died at a Chicago
home from sepsis caused by an abortion perpetrated that day by midwife Julia Patera. Patera was held by the coroner on March 20 but the case never went to trial, despite the fact that Elinora Cassidy had died only the previous day after identifying Patera as her abortionist.
On that same day, 26-year-old homemaker Hazel Carr died in her
Chicago home from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.
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
Harriet "Hattie" Reece, a 25-year-old primary school teacher in
Browning, Illinois, died March 16, 1899. The finger pointed at Dr. James W. Aiken. Hattie had consulted with a doctor two months prior to her death. She did have some health problems, but this doctor recommended continuing the pregnancy rather than taking the risk of an abortion. Hattie, however, was concerned about the effect being pregnant would have on her teaching career. She made inquiries and ended up corresponding with Aiken, who assured her that he could get her safely through an abortion. Hattie's husband, Frank, was against the idea of an abortion but said he'd agree to one if it was necessary for Hattie's well-being, but he had no faith in Dr. Aiken and refused to participate in any way. Hattie used her salary to travel to Tennessee to have her abortion. She took ill and sent for Frank, who found her in ill health, with Aiken saying that Hattie needed an abortion for her safety. Frank went back to Hattie's room, begged her forgiveness for having been harsh with her, and returned home.He got a telegram from his wife saying that she was worse and to come at
once. When Frank arrived, Aiken told him that Hattie was dying and that
he'd sent for her father. Aiken told Frank that "he had told the people Mrs. Reece had died
of peritonitis. That was the story he had been telling and we must both
stick to it as I was in it as deep as he." Frank told Aiken that he'd
tell the truth, and went to speak with his wife. She told Frank that the abotion had been performed on Saturday (most
likely March 4) with blunt instruments, and that she had expelled the
dead baby on Wednesday (most likely March 8). Aiken had put the baby in
his pocket and left with it. She recanted her story shortly before her death. Aiken seemed to be a bit of a George Tiller precursor -- somebody who
would find a "life of the mother" case in any pregnancy. But unlike
Tiller, Aiken couldn't just buy his way out of trouble. He was found
guilty and sentenced to fifteen years.
On March 16, 1869, Magdalena Philippi died of complications of an abortion performed on March 11, evidently by a Dr. Gabriel Wolff, who continued to attend to her as she sickened and died. Although Magdalena was four or five months pregnant, prosecutors had no
way of proving that she had felt movement in the fetus, so they could
not prosecute Dr. Wolff. The next day, a bill was introduced in Albany to eliminate the
quickening distinction in prosecuting abortion cases. This would make it
easier to prosecute abortionists like Wolff.
Magdalena's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.