SUMMARY: Dora Swan, age 24, died on March 23, 1907 in Chicago after an abortion believed to have been perpetrated by Dr. Louise Achtenberg.

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In March of 1907, Dora Swan, the 24-year-old wife of railroad worker W. H. Swan, was living with her mother, Mrs. Phillip de Bre, on Marshfield Avenue in Chicago.

On March 16, Dora underwent an abortion at the hands of Louise Achtenberg. Achtenberg, identified as a midwife in news coverage, came to the home several times to care for Dora, but her condition was not improving.

Her family called the family physician, Dr. C. S. Friend. He had her admitted to Englewood Union Hospital in Chicago to be treated. Dora died from post-abortion infection on March 23.

Actenberg, whose profession is listed as doctor, midwife, or unlisted at the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database, was held responsible by the coroner, but there is no record that charges were filed.

Achtenberg, most likely a doctor identified as a midwife due to her obstetric work, went on to be implicated in the 1909 abortion deaths of Stella Kelly and Florence Wright. She was also implicated in the 1921 abortion death of Violet McCormick. Later, in 1924, it was Dr. Louise Achtenberg who was held responsible for the death of Madelyn Anderson. In spite of all of these deaths, I can find no record that Achtenberg was ever incarcerated.

Note, please, that with overall public health 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 about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.


For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion


DoraSwanChicago_Daily_Tribune_Mon__Mar_25__1907_.jpgSources:

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  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
  6. 1950s
  7. 1960s
  8. 1970s
  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