Friday, March 29, 2013

Chicago, 1912 and 1924

On March 29, 1924, 30-year-old Etta Marcus died at Chicago's Francis Willard Hospital (pictured) from complications of a criminal abortion performed that day. The coroner concluded that Dr. William J. Wick had performed the fatal abortion at his office. However, on April 10, Wick was acquitted. The source document does not identify the reason Wick was named as the abortionist, nor why he was acquitted.

On March 29, 1912, 36-year-old Mary Abrams died from an abortion perpetrated by Mary D. Lunnemeyer that day. Lunnemeyer's profession is identified only as "abortion provider", so it's likely that she was a lay abortionist. She was arrested March 29 and held to a Grand Jury, but the case never went to trial.

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

external image MaternalMortality.gif

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