Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two 19th Century Deaths

In mid-February of 1860, 18-year-old Cordelia Calkins was living with her 16-year-old sister in a Brooklyn boarding house. They worked intermittently as "ballet girls" in theaters. When Cordelia got pregnant by her landlady's son, Charles Young, and he procured a bottle of oil of tansy for her to do an herbal abortion. Cordelia succeeded only in making herself very ill. A nearby doctor did what he could for her, but she died on February 18, insisting to the end that the fatal abortion was entirely her own doing. Don't blame the legal status of abortion for Cordelia's decision to go herbal -- some women continue to embrace herbal abortion. (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!)

At about 2:00 p.m. on February 18, 1883, Kittie O'Toole died at the office of Dr. C. H. Orton in Milwaukee. Ortin had performed the fatal abortion on her. I have no further information on Kittie's death.

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