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Magdalena Philippi, 19th Century Abortion Death
Dr. Gabriel Wolff charged but not prosecuted
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On March 16, 1869, Magdalena Philippi died of complications of an abortion performed on her, evidently by a Dr. Gabriel Wolff.

Although Magdalena was four or five months pregnant, prosecutors had no way of proving that she had felt movement in the fetus, so they could not prosecute Dr. Wolff.

The next day, a bill was introduced in Albany to eliminate the quickening distinction in prosecuting abortion cases. This would make it easier to prosecute abortionists like Wolff.

Magdalena's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Illegal by Doctors Illegal by Paramedical Illegal by Amateurs Self Induced

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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