Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today's Anniversary Calls For More Research

On December 29, 1907, 19-year-old Marcie Mayer died in St. Elizabeth's hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Mary Bing, a midwife, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to Joliet. A man named John Mansfield was also held by the coroner's jury, but acquitted by the judge. Marcie's abortion was atypical in that it was not performed by a physician.

A search for more details on Marcie's death has led only to a mystery: The Coroner's Inquest Database lists a Mamie Meyer, rather than a Marcie Mayer, as having died on that date, with the inquest on the same date that Mary Bing was held by the coroner. It's getting to the point where I'm juggling my finances, wondering how and when I'm going to be able to get to Chicago and slog through the 75 coroner's inquests I've identified as holding more information I need.

When I do research like this, I'm struck with the contrast between my own work and the "research" done by abortion advocacy organizations on criminal abortion deaths. If you click women's names in my blog, you'll be taken to the women's pages on my Cemetery of Choice wiki. There, I cite my sources. When you go to prochoice pages that belabor illegal abortion deaths, you'll notice what's missing: sources. They simply assert their stories and leave it at that.

What really puzzles me about the whole thing is how many verifiable cases there are. And it's not like their own researchers haven't found them. Leslie Reagan did extensive and meticulous research for When Abortion Was a Crime. (Follow the link and read at least some of it.) Why do abortion advocacy organizations instead fuel their fires with unverified stories? That is a mystery deeper than Marcie/Mamie Mayor/Meyer's name.

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