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Amelia Weber, Criminal Abortion Victim
Suspicious circumstances triggered investigation
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On May 19, 1858, Mrs. Amelia Weber died at the home of Dr. Charles Cobel in Brooklyn. "[F]rom the privacy of the burial and other mysterious circumstances surrounding the case, the body, six days after interment, was ordered by the Coroner to be exhumed for medical examination."

The witnesses at the inquest included Amelia's husband. Testimony indicated that Amelia had left her home in Warrenville a few days before her death, supposedly to visit friends in Brooklyn and to do some shopping.

Instead, Amelia went directly to Cobel's house, arriving on May 8.

The medical evidence indicated that Amelia had died of complications of an abortion, which the coroner's jury concluded had been performed by Cobel.

Amelia's abortion was typical of pre-Roe abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

I have no information on overall maternal mortality, or abortion mortality, in the 19th century. I imagine it can't be too much different from maternal and abortion mortality at the very beginning of the 20th Century.

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 on this era, see Abortion Deaths in the 19th Century.

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


Sources: "Death By Abortion", The Brooklyn Eagle, May 31, 1858

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