Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Deadly Chicago Abortionists of the Early 20th Century

All of today's anniversaries are of women who died in early 20th century Chicago, which was rife with doctors and midwives running lightly veiled abortion practices. 

On April 26, 1908, 32-year-old restaurant cashier Cora Johnson died at Wesley Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by a criminal abortion perpetrated on April 18. Mrs. Dietrich, listed on the death certificate as a midwife, was arrested, but acquitted for reasons not given in the source document.

On April 26, 1914, eighteen-year-old Florence Lindquist died of septic peritonitis in a Chicago home where an abortion had been performed on her. On her deathbed Florence implicated Dr. Arthur F. Schulz, age 36, who lived at the home in question. Schulz was arrested for her death, as was a man named Charles Miller, named by Florence as the father of her baby. Schulz, a 1907 graduate of Dearborn Medical College, was an allopath who had begun practicing in Chicago in October of 1911. Though he was arrested, he was likely not incarcerated for Florence's death, since he was still listed as living in his own household in Chicago in the 1920 U.S. census. He died later that year of pneumonia.

In April of 1920, 26-year-old homemaker Catherine Kasper made a connection to 47-year-old midwife Rose Preib. On April 26, Catherine died at Columbia Hospital in Chicago from sepsis caused by the abortion. Preib, whose profession is listed in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database only as "abortion provider," was arrested and charged in the death. She was acquitted on February 29, 1924 for reasons not given in the source documents.

On April 26, 1921, 25-year-old Mrs. Dorothy Friedland died at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Chicago after an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

On April 26, 1926, Mrs. Fern Strecker, age 26, died at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Illinois from an abortion performed in Chicago. The coroner fingered a 55-year-old nurse named Elizabeth Schade, who had been identified as the culprit in the death of Helen Skoza in a 1917 abortion.

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