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Lillie O'Neill, Criminal Abortion Death
Midwife convicted, sentenced to Joliet
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On June 24, 1908, 36-year-old Lillie O'Neill died in Dr. Albert C. Davis's Chicago office from compliations of an abortion performed June 20.

Davis was acquitted for reasons not given in the source document. A midwife named Cornelia Meyers was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to Joliet.

Lillie's abortion was typical in that it was involved medical professionals, including a physician.

Note, please, that with issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

Illegal by Doctors Illegal by Paramedical Illegal by Amateurs Self Induced

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion


Sources: Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database

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