Monday, January 16, 2023

January 16, 1901: Was the Abortionist a Morphine Addict?

 In the early morning hours of January 16, 1901, 20-year-old Jennie Mallard died at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed several weeks earlier. She had signed a statement about three hours earlier incriminating Dr. Margaret Simmons, who was arrested and held without bail in the death. Simmons would neither confirm nor deny the allegations. She did, however, admit that Jennie looked familiar to her.

Jennie had been ailing for several weeks. Three hours before her death she signed a statement implicating Dr. Simmons in the fatal abortion.

Simmons' profession is listed as nurse or midwife in the Homicide in Chicago database, but she was actually a physician. She originally hailed from Lincoln, Nebraska, where there was news coverage of her arrest. 

"Old residents remember her as a blushing, beautiful girl, and the center of Lincoln's social life. For several years she was teacher in the public schools in this city. Then cards were issued announcing her marriage to Dr. Simmons. This was some twenty years ago," notes the Lincoln Star Journal of January 18, 1901.

The couple had seemed happy for perhaps a dozen years. Then Dr. George Simmons divorced Dr. Margaret Simmons on the grounds of desertion. "At the time of the seperation (sic) it was known generally that Mrs. Simmons was addicted to the use of morphine, although this was never publicly stated, the Star Journal noted. Dr. George remained in Lincoln and Dr. Margaret relocated to Rock Island, where she was associated with a criminal abortion case.

Dr. Simmon's elderly mother was reportedly reduced to a moribund state over the deterioration of her daughter's life. 


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