Saturday, August 09, 2008

1917: Despite two doctors, abortion proves fatal for Colorado schoolteacher

Miss Mary Park, a 24-year-old schoolteacher of Greenley, Colorado, died August 9, 1917. Four years later, Dr. Nicholas J. Phelan was tried for murder in her death from illegal abortion, but he was acquitted by reason of insanity and sent to a mental hospital. The next year, Mary's body was exhumed, and Dr. E.L. Willis of Denver was subsequently tried and convicted in her death. He had been party to the abortion, performed at the Colonia Hotel in Denver. Willis was sentenced to 10 - 15 years in prison for Mary's death.

Mary's abortion was typical of those prior to Roe in that it was performed by a physician.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

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