Tuesday, January 03, 2023

January 3, 1866: Abortifacient Fatal to Non-Pregnant Woman

An inquest was held in St. Louis, Missouri, regarding the January 3, 1866 death of 23-year-old Aurora Heaton.

Aurora had lived in a rural area with her mother and stepfather until about six weeks prior to her death. She moved to St. Louis, as did "a young Scotchman named Isaac McDonald," with whom Aurora had evidently been keeping company prior to the move. Aurora told Isaac that she believed that she was pregnant, so he bought something at a drug store and gave it to her prior to returning to college.

The two corresponded, with Aurora's lamentation that the abortifacient drugs hadn't done their job. She went to a pharmacy and bought oil of cedar, another folk abortifacient. She took a one-ounce dose during the evening of January 2. Later that night she went into convulsions. She died shortly after midnight.

A postmortem examination found the poison still in her stomach -- and that contrary to her beliefs, Aurora had not actually been pregnant.

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