Sunday, October 12, 2014

Even in 1887, women got doctors and midwives to do their abortions

OChiTrib13Oct1877.jpgn October 12, 1877, Nellie Ryan, an unmarried 21-year-old white woman from Turner Junction, Illinois, died in Chicago due to a criminal abortion perpetrated two weeks earlier. The autopsy report noted "The internal surface of the womb showed no marks of violence, but was inflamed and in the incipient state of gangrene." Amelia Spork was arrested for Nellie's death but released by the Coroner's Jury. A man named Dougherty was sought by police in connection with the case, which was considered a double homicide.

I have been unable to determine if Amelia Spork was a doctor or a midwife, since different documents list her profession differently. At that time, women who delivered babies were often referred to as midwives even if they were licensed physicians.

Note that contrary to abortion-rights dogma, Nellie found a medical professional of the same caliber she'd have gone to for any obstetric issue. She didn't just grab a dirty knitting needle and impale herself. Prior to legalization, women were going to doctors for perhaps 90% of abortions, and going to midwives or nurses or other trained medical professionals about another 8% of the time. The remaining abortions were often done by laypersons who were trained, supplied, and backed up by medical professionals. The stereotypical "coathanger abortion" is a PR ploy and not a reflection of reality.

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