Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Two Chicago Deaths from a Century Ago

At about 11 a.m. on April 2, 1909, 37-year-old homemaker Carrie Pearson (or Person) died at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by midwife Carolyne Meyer on March 18 at 447 Wells Street. Meyer was held by the coroner but acquitted.

On April 2, 1912, 25-year-old homemaker Elizabeth M. Jorgeson died from an abortion perpetrated that day by Katie Sauer, whose profession is not given. Sauer was held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted by a Grand Jury on November 30. The case never went to trial.

Abortions by midwives were very common in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the 1950s, doctors had pretty much gotten a monopoly on criminal abortion, perpetrating around 90% of them. The remainder were mostly done by midwives or other people with medical training. Some were done by laypersons who had been trained by doctors and who had doctors providing equipment, medications, and discreet treatment for complications.
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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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