Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mostly the Work of Doctors, 1893 - 1937

An article on the death of 19-year-old Emma Hub underscores the racism of the time. It begins, "Uncle Billy Nickens, a well-known colored character of Hannibal, was arrested there yesterday charged with causing the death of Emmy Hub by a criminal operation." Emma's father, Jacob, had expelled his daughter from the house due to "her wild habits", so she had moved in with a painter named Mathew Seoville. Around April 15 of 1893, Emma took ill, and was tended by a Dr. Ebbits. Emma said that she had gone to Nickens' house, where he had used instruments on her to cause an abortion. She said that a girl from Illinois was also there for an abortion. Mathew had pressed Emma to write up a declaration. The fatal abortion was reportedly Emma's second; Nickens had been repeatedly brought up on abortion charges without a successful conviction.

On April 24, 1920, Emma Shanahan died at Chicago's St. Anthony Hospital (pictured) from an abortion perpetrated by a person who was not identified.

Dr. Richard Thacker
April 24, 1932 saw two of a string of criminal abortion deaths in the Oklahoma City area: 25-year-old Lennis May Roach and 21-year-old Virginia Wyckoff. These young women were victims of two doctors, Richard E. Thacker (pictured) and J.W. Eisiminger. Other deaths linked to these men included Ruth Hall, Robbie Lou Thompson, Nancy Lee, Isobel F. Ferguson, and Lennis May Roach.

On April 24, 1937, 21-year-old Merl Williams of Watonga, Oklahoma, died of peritonitis. A midwife, Mrs. Cordelia Moore, was charged with abortion murder. An investigation found evidence that Moore had perpetrated hundreds of abortions.

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Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion.

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