Tuesday, November 18, 2014

1917: Dr. Lillian Hobbs is Finally Stopped

Vintage abortion pills
Ellen Matson was 29 years old, the daughter of Swedish immigrants. In the autumn of 1917, she told her boyfriend, Charles Morehouse, that she was pregnant, and had been taking quinine unsuccessfully to try to abort. Morehouse accompanied Ellen to a doctor, from whom he bought a box of “brown pills.” Ellen took these every hour for over two weeks, but like the quinine, they failed to cause an abortion.
Morehouse found another doctor and started borrowing money from relatives. Ada confided in her mother, her sister, and her aunt. Though the two older women thought the abortion was a bad idea and tried to dissuade her, Ellen's aunt lent her $5.
Newspaper clipping picture of Dr. Lillian Hobbs, showing a dark-haired middle-aged woman wearing a tailored blouse and a string tie.
On November 1, 1917, Morehouse took Ellen to the office of Dr. Lillian Hobbs, (pictured) who was free pending trial for the 1916 abortion death of 21-year-old Alda Christopherson. Hobbs had also been implicated early in 1917 for the abortion death of Ruth Lemaire.Morrehouse evidently stayed with Ellen throughout the actual procedure, since he later testified that the doctor had used “a spray” on Ellen's “privated [sic] parts.” He left her with the doctor for aftercare, returning later to take Ellen home. She took ill after going home home, so she was taken to Hobbs' home, where her mother and sister visited her as her condition deteriorated. Ellen was finally taken to West End Hospital in Chicago, where she died on November 18.

Hobbs was tried, convicted and sentenced to 14 years at Joliet for Ellen's death.

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