Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Legal or Illegal? A Chicago Abortion in 1901

At 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, 1901, Jessie Matteson, a 22-year-old homemaker, died from an illegal abortion in Chicago. She had been sick for about a week. Jessie's husband, Guy, was arrested, as was Dr. J.B. Butts, who was held by Coroner's Inquest on May 16. Jessie and Guy had only been married since the previous Thanksgiving. Guy was described in the Belvedere Daily Republican as "connected with a Chicago publishing house."

Jessie was a 1899 graduate of South Belvidere High School. She was a teacher in the Witbeck and Hicks schools prior to her marriage.

Butts held that while he did perform an abortion on Jessie, he had only done so because she had health problems that would have made childbirth dangerous. During their trial, the judge dismissed the charges against both Jessie's husband and Dr. Butts on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.

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