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Mary Foorman, Criminal Abortion Death
Her own brother helped dispose of her body
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In November of 1875, Mary Foorman suddenly disappeared from her home. "No traces could be found of her, and grave suspicions were entertained."

It wasn't until May 7 of the following year that her brother finally broke down and confessed that he knew what had become of her.

A man named Nathan Smith had gotten Mary pregnant. Mary's brother agreed to help Mary arrange an abortion to be performed by Drs. Mansuer and McIvaine. Unfortunately, Mary died during the abortion.

She was buried in a swamp about two miles south of Eaton, Indiana.

After the brother made his confession, authorities dug up the grave "and all that remained of the unfortunate girl was found there, as indicated by the brother."

The brother, Smith, and both doctors were all arrested. Evidently Mary had been beloved in the town, and the crime against her considered particularly heinous, for "it was all the officers could do to keep the people from breaking into the jail and lynching the doctors and seducer."


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:
  • "Mary Foorman", Winona Daily Republican, May 10, 1876

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