Friday, June 17, 2011

Anniversaries: Two doctors' fatal efforts

On June 17, 1913, 36-year-old Freda Englehardt died in Chicago, at the scene of an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Joseph A. Meeks. Meeks was held for murder, and Mrs. Mollie Flaherty was held as an accessory, but the case never went to trial.

On June 17, 1918, 25-year-old Sophie Suida died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated by Dr. L. D. Tucholska, who died at the county jail on June 28, before the case could come to 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.

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.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

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

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