Saturday, February 05, 2011

1906: Criminal abortionist tries to fix other's screw-up

Mercedes Berriogobel's short life was evidently a rough one. By the time of her death at age 15, she was already known to police as a bootlegger.

She had sought an abortion someplace in Chicago on February 1, 1906, but the attempt caused her physical problems without killing the baby.

In an attempt to save her life, Dr. Ubayarrel Holmes perfomed a legal abortion on her in Wesley Hospital. This attempt proved to be in vain, and Mercedes died of blood poisoning on February 5.

Holmes, interestingly enough, was known as a criminal abortionist, but was not believed to have made the initial attempt to abort Mercedes.

Note, please, that with 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.

Source: Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database

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