Sandra's abortion was performed at 10 a.m., and she was discharged shortly thereafter for the 90-minute drive home to Sandusky. The babysitter stayed with Sandra and her three children, ages 10, 7, and 5, for three hours as the young mother slipped in and out of consciousness and suffered pain and abdominal swelling. Twice the alarmed babysitter called the clinic, but was told that the symptoms were normal. The third time the babysitter called the clinic, she got no response at all, and summoned an ambulance. Sandra was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital at 6:01 p.m..
The medical examiner found a one-inch uterine perforation. Her abdomen was full of blood. She had bled to death internally.
A Cut Throat and a Fatal Abortion, New Hampshire, 1871
Dr. Charles P. Wood admitted that Elvira Woodward had come to his house in Manchester, New Hampshire, on April 1 and remained there until her death on April 27, 1871. He said that she'd expelled a dead fetus on April 3, and that she suffered from puerperal fever. Elvira's condition deteriorated. She died on April 27, at about 2:30 PM, at Wood's house.
At some point as she lay dying, Elvira suffered a cut throat which led her to bleed massively. Witnesses said that the wound was a self-inflicted suicide attempt that Elvira had made even though she was clearly already dying.
A post-mortem examination left no doubt that Elvira had died from abortion complications. However, a question arose as to when, how, and by whom the abortion was perpetrated. Elvira's sister, who had visited her on her deathbed, insisted that she hadn't known about the abortion. A defense witness, Elvira's landlady, claimed that a Dr. McCooms performed an abortion on Elvira and provided her with an abortifacient.
Dr. Wood was convicted of performing the fatal abortion on Elvira. It is unclear how the prosecutor or the jury identified him, from among all the doctors who had attended Elvira, as the guilty party. Still, Elvira's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.