Anna Anderson

Anna Andersonoctober15, 1915, age25, aaausplund, illegaldoctor, october, 20s, 19101919, hemorrhagedeath, oregonSUMMARY: Anna Anderson, age 25, died October 15, 1915 after an illegal abortion performed in Chicago by Dr. A. A. Ausplund.

On October 15, 1915, Anna Anderson, a 25-year-old unmarried woman, went to the office of Dr. A. A. Ausplund. She had previously gone to another doctor who had examined her and found her to be about three months pregnant. She’d asked him to perform an abortion, but he’d refused.

Dr. Ausplund said that Anna was ill upon her arrival at his office, and asked him to examine her. He attempted to do so, but she gasped in pain as soon as he’d inserted his fingers. He said he immediately saw that she was dying and went out for a stimulant, seeking help from a female physician practicing in the same building.

The two doctors, assisted by a third doctor, were unable to revive Anna.

The coroner and other witnessed testified that Anna was found with her skirts removed. They found a bloody sheet in Dr. Ausplund’s office, as well as a bloody doctor’s coat. Several medical instruments were noted, one of which appeared to have a portion of placenta on it. The floor in his operating room was wet, as well as a Kelly pad.

The autopsy found signs of recent pregnancy of about three months duration, as well as trauma to the interior of the uterus. It was estimated that the injuries were sustained about five to eight hours before death. The undertaker who embalmed Anna said that there was almost no blood in her body.

Note, please, that with general 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 information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.

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

Sources: 86 Or. 121, 167 P. 1019; Supreme Court of Oregon. STATEv.AUSPLUND. Oct. 16, 1917. Department 1. Appeal from Circuit Court, Multnomah County; John P. Kavanaugh, Judge

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