Here are two typical Chicago cases from the early 20th century:
On October 11, 1913, 28-year-old Frances Odochowski, a married woman, died in Chicago at the scene of an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Arthur L. Blunt. Bunt was arrested and held by the Coroner on November 7, and brought before a Grand Jury, but the case never went to trial.
On October 11, 1926, Jeanette Jarrett, a 28-year-old Black woman, died from complications of a criminal abortion performed on her that day. A Black doctor, Roy Shell, was held by the coroner on October 29. On November 1, he was indicted for felony murder.
Abortion-rights groups dismiss post-legalization deaths with a flippant assertion that "all surgery has risks," but do not accept that the same was true prior to legalization. Surgery was riskier then, so abortion was riskier as well. As the 20th century progressed, all maternal mortality, including abortion mortality, fell as medical care improved. Antibiotics and blood transfusions -- along with overall better health due to increasing prosperity -- deserve the credit for falling mortality, which was hardly caused retroactively by the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling striking down all the nation's abortion laws.
|US maternal mortality rates, with Roe vs. Wade marked with vertical line.|
If abortion-rights groups were as concerned with women's lives as they are about the Holy Grail of "access," women could only benefit. If only half of the effort put into investigating and trying to shut down prolife pregnancy help centers were put into investigating and trying to shut down seedy abortion mills, only abortionists would suffer. Women would benefit. Whose side are they really on?
It's time we got real about how little is different between illegal and legal abortion practice: the main difference is how much risk of being shut down or sent to prison the safe-and-legal abortionist faces.