Anna Mae Smith

Anna Mae Smith1920s, 20s, illegaldoctor, illinois, chicagoSUMMARY: On June 19, 1927, 20-year-old Anna Mae Smith died after having undergone an abortion the previous day at the Chicago office of Dr. George F. Slater.

GeorgeSlater.pngDr. George SlaterOn Friday, June 18, 1927, Dr. George F. Slater admitted 20-year-old Anna Mae Smith to a Chicago hospital, saying that she was suffering from appendicitis.

The next day, Anna died from after telling a police detective– as well as her husband and sister — that Slater had perpetrated an abortion on her.

A police officer went to Slater’s home the following morning to inform him of Anna Mae’s death and to deliver a summons to appear at an inquest. Slater calmly breakfasted with his family, sent his kids off to Sunday school, then went into the bathroom and took poison, dying in his wife’s arms after telling her to look after the children. Mrs. Slater told police that he was innocent of the abortion charge and that she was certain he had killed himself over some financial problems.

This was not the first time Slater had been implicated in an abortion death. He had been held in 1922 for the abortion death of Delia Campbell and had been indicted by a grand jury for homicide on May 1, 1926 for the 1925 abortion death of 23-year-old Helen Bain.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

AnnaMaeSmithMattoonILJournalGazette20Jun1927.pngSources:

  • Homicide in Chicago Interactive
  • “Chicago Physician Dies Following Woman’s Charge,” Mattoon (IL) Journal Gazette, June 20, 1927
  • “Dying Woman Names Doctor, He Kills Self,” Chicago Tribune, June 20, 1927

AnnaMaeSmithChiTrib20June1927.png


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