Tuesday, May 03, 2022

May 3: A Mystery Abortion in 1961

Mary Ruth Curry, age 26, of Springfield, South Carolina, was admitted to Aiken County Hospital in Aiken, South Carolina on April 30, 1961. She was attended there by Dr. Miles A. Brooks. Jr.

On May 3, Mary died. Her death certificate indicates that she died form severe septicemia due to generalized peritonitis due to a criminal abortion. An autopsy was performed. However, the autopsy alone was unable to determine when, where, and by whom the abortion was perpetrated.

The coroner held an inquest into Mary's death. Witnesses included Deputy Sheriff W. B. Connelly, Dr. L. S. Connor, Mary's husband, Gus, and Robert Curry, presumably Mary's brother-in-law.

Mary's husband, Gus, testified that she'd asked him and Robert to take her to "an aged, feeble and nearly blind colored woman, Ada Barnes," on April 24. Both of them denied knowing what Mary, who was also Black, planned to do at the Barnes residence. 

Deputy Sheriff Connelly indicated that witnesses, who were not named in the news coverage, had also seen Mary go into the Barnes home, Connelly also said that witnesses claimed that Ada Barnes admitted to using some instrument to perform an abortion.

The coroner's jury concluded "We find that Mary Ruth Curry came to her death by her own means which took place near Neeses, Orangeburg County, about April 24, 1961. 

It's unclear how, if witnesses indicate that Ms. Barnes did an abortion, the coroner's jury concluded that Mary had died "by her own means." No charges were pressed against Ada Barnes.


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