Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two centuries, one city, three deaths

On November 30, 1874, Mrs. Mary Dix died at her Chicago home from complications of a criminal abortion performed there. Dr. W. F. Aiken was arrested and charged with murder.

On November 30, 1926, 34-year-old Sophie Peterson died at Mercy Hospital in Chicago. She had been hospitalized due to complications of an illegal abortion performed October 27 in the Chicago office of Dr. Frederick Springe. Springe was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury on December 15.

A year to the day later, 22-year-old Lucille van Iderstine died in the Chicago office of Dr. Emil Gleitsman, from an abortion that had been performed on her that day. Gleitsman was indicted for felony murder in Lucille's death on January 15, 1928.

Were these criminal abortions, performed by physicians, typical of abortions before legalization?
Yes. Most abortions were performed by doctors.
Yes, though abortions by midwives or nurses were about as common.
Not really. Doctors did abortions, but only about a quarter of them.
Not at all. Most abortions were self-induced or performed by housewives or other untrained people.


Joe said...

You mean:

"Two centuries, one city, SIX DEATHS'.

Don't forget the unborn children who died.

Christina Dunigan said...

My target audience is the "reticent prochoice", so I write with them in mind. But you are correct that there were six deaths.