Emily Projahn

Emily Projahn19101919, chicago, illinois, illegaldoctorSUMMARY: Emily Projahn, age 33, died on October 9, 1916 after an abortion attributed to Dr. Clarence W. Mercerau in Chicago.

Earnest Projahn answered the questions put to him by the deputy coroner during the inquest into the October 9, 1916 death of his 33-year-old wife, Emily. The Projahns had four living children; two others had died.
In August and September of 1916 Emily’s period did not come. She told her husband of the pregnancy and her plans to get an abortion. since she didn’t think they could afford another child on her husband’s salary as a firefighter. Ernest testified that he opposed the abortion and “spoke against it all the time.” Though he may have made this statement in the hopes of avoiding further legal trouble for his role in the abortion, his remark, “That’s the way the wife figured it,” suggests that he followed her lead in this matter, however reluctantly. Mr. Projahn eventually came around to his wife’s way of thinking and performed the male role of locating the abortionist and accompanying her to the doctor’s office on a Friday night in September of 1916.
Emily visited a doctor whom her husband had seen previously, Dr. Clarence W. Mercereau at 4954 Milwaukee Avenue. Dr. Mercereau agreed to do the operation and told them the fee would be $10 and $2 for calling on her afterwards. They paid half the fee that night. Mr. Projahn later explained that the doctor “asked me to be quiet and not say anything more about it. I said I would.” The doctor then shut the door and prepared to perform the operation. He had his patient lie in a surgical chair and used an instrument. Mrs. Projahn called the instrument a “womb opener.” Her husband described it as “nickel-plated, silver-like” and “ten or twelve inches long.” The doctor told her to “stay on her feet until she got sick enough to go to bed.”
When they got home that evening, Emily was bleeding. A week later she called Dr. Mercereau, who came to their home and prescribed medicine. He visited her at home twice. After three weeks of chills and fever, she called in a second doctor, who hospitalized her. While at the hospital she told an intern,
“My husband and my self came to the conclusion that we had enough children and wanted something done so we would not have to support another.”

Emily finally died on October 9.

Though Mercerau was held by the coroner and indicted, the case was stricken off on December 16.

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.

In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America.

For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

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

EmilyProjahn DeathCert.jpg


  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