Monday, March 01, 2010

1909: Midwife implicated in fatal abortion

On March 1, 1909, Mrs. Lena Oppedal, age 37, died in Chicago from peritonitis caused by an abortion.

A midwife named Carrin Bakke was held to a grand jury and indicted for murder but the source document doesn't indicate that there was a trial.

Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

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

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