Most illegal abortions were done by physicians. A distant but important second category of illegal abortionists was the paramedical person: somebody with training, and sometimes even equipment, medications, and physician backup. Here are some of the women who died at the hands of these practitioners, both before and after legalization.
On September 29, 1923, 44-year-old Annie Allison of Brooklyn died at the office of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard, who practiced under the name of Dr. Henry L. Green.
On January 29, 1929, Louise, age 25, underwent an abortion at the home of Amelia K. Jaruez, a midwife.
On May 5, 1939, 16-year-old Martha died from an abortion performed in a San Diego chiropractic clinic.
In 1900, Sarah died at her home as a result of a criminal abortion. A midwife arrested in connection with the abortion committed suicide when police came to arrest her.
In 1900, Mary died in her home from complications of an abortion. Mary Kempfer, whose profession was nurse or midwife, was arrested that same day and held without bail by a Coroner's Jury.
On August 11, 1923, 26-year-old Martha died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from an abortion performed that day. The coroner named Jane Worchowski, a nurse or midwife, as the person responsible.
Maternity nurse Lena Smith tried to blame this young wife's death on an ingrown toenail.
On February 16, 1925, 28-year-old Agnes died in Chicago's West Side Hospital from a criminal abortion performed that day. A midwife was implicated.
On March 21, 1947, Ilene was brought to Mankato, Minnesota, to the dental office of W. A. Groebner for an abortion.
Anna Fazio, age 20, underwent an illegal abortion performed about February 2, 1929, at the Chicago home of midwife Marie Zwienczak.
Margie was 18 when she died at the hands of surgical nurse Gertrude Pitkanen in Butte, Montana.
On December 18, 1923, Sophia died at Chicago's County Hospital due to a criminal abortion performed there that day. The coroner identified midwife Mary Roback as having been responsible.
On February 20, 1927, 23-year-old Angerita died in her home from an abortion performed there that day. Midwives Anna Trezek and Frances Raz were held by the coroner.
In late 1903, Sophia was taken to Norwegian Hospital. She died from an abortion. Midwife Harla Faustman was arrested.
On October 25, 1922, Lillian died at Chicago's St. Anne's Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed on her there that day. The coroner identified a Mrs. M.C. Anderson as responsible.
On June 12, 1922, Mrs. Louise Huse, age 30, died at Chicago's Mid West Hospital from a criminal abortion performed there that day and blamed on midwife Agnes Tholl.
On June 7, 1930, 27-year-old Grace died from an illegal abortion performed in the Chicago home of midwife Stepina Pazkiewicz.
On September 26, 1977, 27-year-old Rosie Jimenez showed up at the emergency room of McAllen General Hospital in the Texas border town of McAllen, with septic shock. Rosie's cousin had brought her to a lay midwife in McAllen, who charged $120 to insert a catheter into Rosie's uterus.
This 37-year-old woman died from complications of an abortion attributed to surgical nurse Gertrude Pitkanen.
Joyce met Harvey Karman in a motel room on April 6, 1955. Karman, using a speculum, inserted a nutcracker into Joyce in order to perform an abortion. I count this as a paramedical abortion rather than an amateur because Harvey was accepted as a doctor among other abortionists, to the point where he was even invited to work in an abortion hospital, training other abortionists.
Mrs. Andre Jorgenson
1900, Mrs. Jorgenson died on the scene from an illegal abortion. Anna Pihlgren, whose occupation is listed as nurse or midwife, was arrested and held by the Coroner's Jury.
On September 23, 1899, Mary died in her Chicago home from complications of an abortion performed that day by midwife Annie Stonek.
On November 20, 1925, 29-year-old Anna Kick died in Chicago's Washington Park Hospital from an abortion performed that day at an undisclosed location.
On February 10, 1957, veterinarian Ira Ledbetter performed an abortion on Alice Kimberly.
In 1923, Helen Koss underwent an illegal abortion somewhere in Chicago. On January 6, 1924, she died at Norwegian American Hospital of complications. Midwife Emma Morch was arrested.
On September 24, 1927, 35-year-old Martha died in Chicago from a criminal abortion performed that day. Nurse Emma Schultz was held by the coroner.
On June 20, 1929, 28-yaer-old Jennie died at Chicago hospital from an abortion performed there that day by midwife Mary Zwieniczak.
On April 3, 1928, 30-year-old Stafania died from complications of a criminal abortion performed that day by midwife Pauline Majerczyk.
Sylvia Redman, who had a license to practice naturopathy, signed a written confession on October 20, 1954 regarding the death of Betty Ladel.
Asunta La Rosa
On May 5, 1938, Mrs. Genevieve Horton, a practical nurse, pleaded guilty in an abortion case in Westchester County, New York. After being released, Horton performed an abortion on 29-year-old Mrs. Asunta La Rosa.
Emily's cousin arranged for a midwife to do her abortion. When her baby was born alive, it was tossed in the river.
On March 27, 1926, 24-year-old Louise died at Chicago's West End Hospital from complications of an abortion performed that day. Midwife Amelia Becker was held by the coroner.
On January 16, 1901, Jennie Mallard died at Alexian Brothers Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed there that day by Margaret Simmons, a nurse or midwife.
On June 19, 1922, 26-year-old Veronica died in her Chicago home from complications of an abortion performed there that day. The coroner identified midwife Mary Pesova as the person responsible.
In 1929, 30-year-old Catherine died from an abortion at the hands of Chicago midwife Anna Heisler.
This 23-year-old teacher died from complications of an abortion attributed to surgical nurse Gertrude Pitkanen.
In 1926, fifteen-year-old Emily died from a criminal abortion performed somewhere in Chicago. Midwife Magdelane Stegeman, alias Motzny, was identified as the perpetrator.
Emma Bickel, a 59-year-old midwife, was charged with second-degree manslaugher in the death of 19-year-old Emily Nohavec in 1913.
In 1926, 23-year-old Mary died in Chicago from a criminal abortion attributed to midwife Josephine Petrova.
Dentist Milton Grissom not only performed the fatal abortion on this young woman, but he also took her ring.
The CDC's 1976 Abortion Surveillance Summary presents the case of a woman I'll call "Rosa." Rosa was married, 29 years old, with two living children. According to her family, she had previously undergone an illegal abortion in Mexico in 1968.
On May 1, 1925, 26-year-old Mary died at a Chicago residence from a criminal abortion performed on her that day. Midwife Edna Marie Dietrich was arrested.
On February 17, 1929, 23-year-old Gladys died after from a criminal abortion performed in Chicago. She died on the spot, in the home of midwife Emma Schulz.
Queens patrolman Howard Bailey, morgue attendant Victor Genz, and a Texas medical student, Benjamin Lockhart, were arrested in the December 4, 1965 abortion death of Rita Shea.
Azelia's death was blamed on chiropractor John Gobischel.
In December of 1955, Jackie Smith's boyfriend arranged for a scrub nurse, Leobaldo Pejuan, to perform an abortion at Daniels' apartment on Christmas Eve. After performing the abortion, Pejuan became alarmed at Jackie's condition, and summoned Dr. Ramiro Morales, who told him that Jackie was dead.
On March 6, 1928, Lucille, a 23-year-old store clerk, died at Chicago's Burrows Hospital from complications of an abortion performed that day at the office of midwife Emma Schulz.
Mrs. Morris Swanson
On July 11, 1904, Mrs. Swanson died at her home from an abortion performed there that day. Midwife Constance Marie Anderson was arrested.
On August 29, 1925, Katarzyna died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from an abortion performed on her there that day. A woman identified as a nurse or midwife was arrested.
Midwife Cordelia Moore was blamed for the 1937 abortion death of Merl Williams of Watonga, Oklahoma.
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