Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Doctors and a Midwife Implicated in Historic Abortion Deaths

Sketch of a young woman of the late 19th century
I found so much today when doing supplemental research on today's first death that I'll just present a synopsis. On March 31, 1891,  a sickly young woman boarded a train out of San Fransciso, aided by a middle-aged man with enormous muttonchop whiskers.  At Benicia, California, a fellow passenger helped the young woman to leave the train and get into a carriage. She died in the carriage before arriving at her final destination. The young woman was identified as Ida Shaddock. The man who put her on the train was eventually identified as Dr. Samuel Hall. Dr. H. Janeway performed the autopsy. He found damage from a sharp instrument used to perpetrate an abortion. The injuries were so extensive that Dr. Janeway said that it was highly improbable that Ida could have caused them herself. Hall was tried twice for murder in Ida's death. The first trial ended in a hung jury, and the second in an acquittal.

On March 31, 1914, 24-year-old Frances Fergus, formerly of Salt Lake City, died at Chicago's German Evangelical Deaconess Hospital from peritonitis caused by an abortion. Dr. James R. Struble was implicated but released after the coroner's jury inquest. Two years later Struble was implicated in the abortion death of Augusta Bloom.

On March 31, 1926, 24-year-old Louise Maday died at Chicago's West End Hospital from complications of an abortion performed at an earlier date.Midwife Amelia Becker was held by the coroner on April 27.

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