Friday, April 22, 2016

Three Abortion Deaths from Early 20th Century Chicago

Many physicians and midwives plied their trade as abortionists in early 20th century Chicago. The women whose deaths we commemorate today all had entrusted themselves to the care of those professionals operating outside the law.

"Phyllis" was 46 years old when she had an abortion performed by a physician in Chicago on or around April 4, 1910. The abortion was followed by pain, fever, and hemorrhage. On April 18, about two weeks after the abortion, she was admitted to Cook County Hospital. She was in a stupor, with her tongue dry and furred. Her abdomen was distended and tender. Her liver was enlarged. The lower lobe of her right lung had sounds indicating the presence of fluid. That evening, Phyllis became delirious and had to be restrained to her bed. She died on April 22 from peritonitis and septic pneumonia.

On February 19, 1920, midwife Mary Simkus, perpetrated an abortion on 28-year-old homemaker Sophia Krawczyk in the Krawczyk home. After the abortion, Sophie took ill. Eventually she was taken to Cook County Hospital, where she died from sepsis on April 22. Simka was indicted for Sophie's death, but for reasons I have been unable to determine the case never went to trial.

On April 22, 1923, 30-year-old Daisy Singerland died at Chicago's Robert Burns Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed earlier that day. On June 1, 54-year-old Dr. James W. Lipscomb was indicted for felony murder in Daisy's death.

No comments: