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Mary Kirkpatrick, 19th Century Abortion Death
Died after boss gives her abortifacient
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Mary Kirkpatrick was a 16-year-old mill worker in New Jersey in 1859.

She accepted gifts of clothing from her boss. They became sexually involved, and Mary became pregnant.

Mary's boss obtained an abortifacient, which he gave to Mary.

The abortifacient killed Mary as well as her unborn child.

Mary's abortion was unusual in that it was performed by an amateur, rather than by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

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

Source: Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in American, by Marvin Olasky

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