Saturday, August 20, 2011

Three illegal anniversaries

On August 20, 1880, Miss M.A.M. Faulkner, a white woman formerly of Ottawa, Canada, died at the office of Dr. Thomas J. Cream during the commission of an illegal abortion. Cream, a white physician, and Mrs. Mackey, a Black nurse, were arrested in the death.

On August 20, 1913, 20-year-old Emma Witte died in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Otis M. Walter. Walter was indicted by a Grand Jury that day, but the case never went to trial.

On August 20, 1918, 28-year-old Alma Heidenway died at 329 South Ashland Avenue in Chicago from an abortion evidently performed that day by Dr. J. A. Stough. Stough, along with Fred Cordray and Alice J. Kennedy, were held by the Coroner on September 5. Eunice Magill was 'brought back from Forest Park." Stough and Cordray were acquitted on May 29, 1919, for reasons not given in the source. The others never went to trial for Alma's death.

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.

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