On May 19, 1858, 28-year-old Amelia Weber died at the home of 58-year-old Dr. Charles Cobel in Brooklyn and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.The undertaker testified that Cobel had engaged him to perform the funeral, and that he had collected Amelia's body from Cobel's garret. Cobel attributed Amelia's death to paralysis.

AmeliaWeberNews.png
"[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, who kept a hotel in Schobaria County, New York. Testimony indicated that Amelia had left her home and three children 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 inquest findings included:

"Dr. Cobel received an application from Mrs. Weber, who had left home for that purpose with her husband's consent, on the 8th instant, to produce an abortion upon her person, he did so, and violent inflammation supervened, which baffled his skill. He then called Dr. Kertachmann, pretending that the lungs were the seat of disease, but it was to no purpose."

The autopsy revealed noting at all wrong with Amelia other than an abdominal infection caused by the abortion and bringing about her death.

Cobel was indicted for manslaughter in Amelia's death on November 30, 1861. On January 23, 1862 he was tried and found not guilty of manslaughter in the second degree, but guilty of the misdemeanor charge of using instruments on a pregnant woman with intent to cause abortion.

Cobel successfully appealed the misdemeanor conviction on the grounds that he couldn't simultaneously be guilty of performing the abortion yet not guilty of causing Amelia's death by performing the abortion.

Cobel, a known abortionist, was also implicated in the deaths of Antoinette Fennor, Catharine DeBreuxal, and Emma Wolfer. However, he was acquitted in his trial for Amelia's death.

AmeliaWeberDeath.pngAmelia'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, 31 May, 1858
  • "Death from Abortion," New York Evening Post, 31 May, 1858
  • "The Late Death from Abortion," New York Tribune, 31 May, 1858
  • "News of the Day," Alexandria (VA) Gazette, Jun. 2, 1858
  • "THe Cobel Abortion Case," New York Times, Oct. 28, 1858
  • Untitled snippet, Baltimore Sun, Oct. 29, 1858
  • "Alleged Infanticide -- Dr. Cobel's Case on Appeal," New York Times, 23 May, 1863

AmeliaWeberBaltimoreSun29Oct1858.png



AmeliaWeberNewYorkTrib31May1858.png

AmeliaWeberCobelAppearlNYTimes23May1862.png
AmeliaWeberWeaverNYTimes27Oct1858.png


  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
  6. 1950s
  7. 1960s
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  9. 1980s
  10. 1990s
  11. 19th century
  12. 2000-2009
  13. 20s
  14. 30s
  15. 40s
  16. NAF
  17. abortifacient
  18. abortion
  19. abortion mill
  20. abortion mortality
  21. abortionists
  22. abortionists -- female
  23. abortionists -- male
  24. alabama
  25. anesthesia
  26. arizona
  27. black women
  28. born alive
  29. botched abortion
  30. california
  31. chicago
  32. colorado
  33. connecticut
  34. cover-up
  35. death
  36. deaths
  37. deception
  38. delay in transport
  39. delay in treatment
  40. district of columbia
  41. dumped body
  42. ectopic
  43. embolism
  44. falsifying forms
  45. fetal indications
  46. florida
  47. former criminal abortionist
  48. george tiller
  49. georgia
  50. hemorrhage death
  51. hospitals
  52. illegal - doctor
  53. illegal - midwife
  54. illegal - nurse
  55. illegal - paramedical
  56. illegal - post roe
  57. illegal - unknown
  58. illegal - untrained
  59. illegal abortion
  60. illinois
  61. inadequate documents
  62. inadequate equipment
  63. inadequate resuscitation
  64. incomplete abortion
  65. indiana
  66. infection
  67. kansas
  68. llinois
  69. louisiana
  70. maryland
  71. massachusetts
  72. maternal indications
  73. maternal mortality
  74. michigan
  75. mills
  76. missouri
  77. mortality
  78. national abortion federation
  79. new jersey
  80. new mexico
  81. new york
  82. north carolina
  83. ohio
  84. oklahoma
  85. pennsylvania
  86. planned parenthood
  87. pre-roe legal
  88. previous misconduct
  89. prostaglandin
  90. quackery
  91. questionable stories
  92. ru-486
  93. rupture
  94. saline
  95. secret abortion
  96. self-induced
  97. suicide
  98. teens
  99. texas
  100. wisconsin