Carrie McDonald

Carrie McDonald1920s, colorado, illegalunknownOn August 1, 1922, 27-year-old divorcee Carrie McDonald died at the county hospital in Denver, Colorado from the effects of an abortion. She had been taken there after her friends realized that the care they were providing to her would not be enough to help her.

When she was admitted, Carrie insisted that she’d been suffering from ptomaine poisoning, but an inquest was ordered over the protests of Carrie’s parents, Mr & Mrs. F. J. Meehan, and her brother, Willie Meehan.

Carrie had been living in a rooming house as Carrie Healy with a chauffeur called Ed Healy, whose real name was Ed Hanley. He reportedly had been planning to marry Carrie as soon as his divorce was finalized. He left the boarding house several weeks before Carrie’s death and hadn’t been seen since.

Six women were held during the investigation because police believed that they might have information about the abortion. They insisted that Carrie had told them about the abortion, perpetrated on July 7, but had been sworn to secrecy as to the identity of the midwife who had perpetrated it.

Sadie Hines, a beautician who had known Carrie for about a year, said that Carrie had spoken for weeks about arranging an abortion and had asked Sadie to give her the money, but Sadie said she’d refused.

After the abortion, Sadie said, she’d gone for a car ride with Carrie, who then told her that the baby had been born alive and that she’d heard it crying. “They” had asked if she wanted to see it, and she’d said no. After that, Carrie said, she’d known nothing of the baby’s whereabouts. Sadie, however, got the impression that the baby had been killed shortly after birth.

Fort Collins police helped Denver police in the search for Mrs. Alma Dittman, age 52, suspected to have something to do with Carrie’s death, though Alma denied any knowledge of the fatal abortion. She had been implicated, along with Mrs. Ida Cathcart, by Carrie’s friend Margaret Lynch, who later recanted her story and insisted she’d known nothing about an abortion.

Dittman was located at Fort Morgan and brought back for questioning. Dittman said that she’d been called in to care for Carrie after a self-induced abortion. She denied any knowledge of what had happened to Carrie’s baby. A search of her home had revealed surgical instruments.

I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case.

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.

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

  • “Officers Here Asked to Help Find Woman”, Fort Collins Courier, Aug. 8, 1922
  • “Woman Denies Story Told in Death of Mrs. Carrie McDonald,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, Oct. 15, 1922
  • “Police Hunt Mystery Woman and Arrest Six Others as Missing Baby’s Mother Dies,” The Denver Post, Aug. 5, 1922
  • “Suspect Denies Performing Fatal Operation on Girl,” The Denver Rocky Mountain News, Aug. 7, 1922
  • “Two Women Held on Murder Charge in Death of Girl,” The Denver Rocky Mountain News, Aug. 8, 1922
  • “Woman Acquitted of Murder Charge,” The Denver Rocky Mountain News, Dec. 13, 1922
  • “Denver Divorcee’s Death, Supposedly of Ptomaine Poisoning, Ordered Probed, Denver Post, Aug. 3, 1922
  • “Seventh Woman Arrested in Probe of Girl’s Death,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, Aug. 6, 1922




  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. botched abortion
  29. california
  30. chicago
  31. colorado
  32. connecticut
  33. cover-up
  34. death
  35. deaths
  36. deception
  37. delay in transport
  38. delay in treatment
  39. district of columbia
  40. dumped body
  41. ectopic
  42. embolism
  43. falsifying forms
  44. fetal indications
  45. florida
  46. former criminal abortionist
  47. george tiller
  48. georgia
  49. hemorrhage death
  50. hospitals
  51. illegal – doctor
  52. illegal – midwife
  53. illegal – nurse
  54. illegal – paramedical
  55. illegal – post roe
  56. illegal – unknown
  57. illegal – untrained
  58. illegal abortion
  59. illinois
  60. inadequate documents
  61. inadequate equipment
  62. inadequate resuscitation
  63. incomplete abortion
  64. indiana
  65. infection
  66. kansas
  67. legal abortion
  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