Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1941: Blind abortionist kills patient

One of the few cases I've found in which a criminal abortionist wasn't a doctor is also one of the strangest cases I've found. The abortionist, Sarah Howe, age 57, had been blind since she was three years old. Howe was charged with abortion and with manslaughter in the death of 23-year-old Helen Clark. Helen died September 16, 1941. Howe was convicted of abortion, but was found not guilty of manslaughter. She was sentenced to two to four years in prison.

How common was it for a woman to end up with an amateur abortionist, like Sarah Howe, who had no medical training, before legalization?
It was very common. Most women relied on themselves, friends or family, or rank amateurs like Sarah Howe.
About half of women seeking criminal abortions ended up in the care of amateurs with no medical training.
A little under 20% of women seeking abortionists found somebody with no medical training.
Less than 10%.

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

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Technically speaking, abortion is a procedure that is performed blind anyway.