Sunday, October 09, 2011

1916: Victim of laws, or of lack of antibiotics and blood transfusions?

On October 9, 1916, Emily Projahn died at the Chicago office of Dr. Clarence W. Merceraue from complications of an abortion he had perpetrated there that day. Though Mercerau was held by the coroner and indicted, the case was stricken off on December 16.

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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