Sunday, October 04, 2020

November 4: The Many Dead of Dr. Lou E. Davis

 On November 4, 1928, 22-year-old Norwegian immigrant Anna Borndal died at the office of Dr. Lou E. Davis of Chicago, from complications of an abortion performed there that day. Davis was held by the coroner for unintentional manslaughter. She was indicted by a grand jury for homicide.

Anna's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Anna was not the only women to have died at the hands of Dr. Davis.  

News clipping photo of an elderly white woman in profile, dated April 2, 1937
Dr. Lou Davis
Davis had already been implicated in the 1913 abortion death of 27-year-old Anna Adler and the 1924 abortion death of 26-year-old homemaker Mary Whitney

On December 1, 1928, yet another Davis patient, 23-year-old Esther V. Wahlstrom died from an abortion. This time Davis was at last convicted for her crime. he was free before long, however, and on May 19, 1932, 24-year-old Irene Kirschner died after an abortion perpetrated by Davis, who later faced three trials in three years over the February 7, 1934 abortion death of Gertrude Gaesswitz.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

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