Thursday, June 09, 2011

1917: Another doctor's fatal work

On June 9, 1917, 26-year-old Mrs. Emma Melvin died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated by Dr. M. Meinhardt, who was never tried in Emma's death. It's well worth noting that, like about 90% of pre-legalization abortions, Emma's fatal abortion was performed by a doctor, not a wino in a trench coat. The more you know, the less likely you are to see abortion as a huge boon to anybody but the doctors who sell them.

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.

In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America.

For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

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

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