Saturday, April 24, 2010

1939: Oklahoma midwife's fatal work

On April 24, 1937, Miss Merl Williams of Watonga, Oklahoma, died of peritonitis. She was 21 years old. Her death was attributed to a botched abortion.

A midwife, Mrs. Cordelia Moore, was charged with abortion murder. An investigation found evidence that Moore had performed hundreds of abortions. W. C. Mouse, a railroad engineer, testified that he had taken Merl to Moore's home on April 11, not knowing the reason for the visit. He had heard Merl ask Moore, "Will it be dangerous?"

After her arrest, Moore "unworriedly set her glasses on the end of her nose and continued her quilting in the county jail." She was tried for the crime; her husband, John, was arrested but released.

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

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