Eugenie Chauvet

SUMMARY: Euginie Chauvet died November 10, 1870 after an abortion perpetrated by Dr. C. C. O’Donnell in San Francisco.

On November 10, 1870, Eugenie Chauvet died “under circumstances that unquestionably indicated criminal practice. The coroner examined Eugenie’s body the following day. He testified, “I found that her death was brought on by injuries inflicted on the womb.” She was not pregnant at the time of her death but her uterus was enlarged, indicating a recent pregnancy. He believed that the two injuries had been caused by “a sharp pointed instrument.”

He had examined some powders associated with the case, and concluded that they were morphine.

Simon M. Cohen, an astrologer, was charged with arranging the abortion.

At the coroner’s inquest, Mrs. Julia Harvey testified that before dying, Eugenie had told her that Dr. C. C. O’Donnell had performed an abortion on her. Cohen also testified that O’Donnell had admitted to him that he had perpetrated an abortion on Eugenie.

Frederick Downer, a carpenter, said that he had known Eugenie for about five months when she had asked him to arrange a room for himself at Mrs. Harvey’s establishment. He saw Eugenie two or three times a week.

Eugenie, he said, became ill with chills and fever and took to bed at Mrs. Harvey’s house, where she was visited by a man asking if there was a sick lady there. The person in question, whom Downer pointed out, was O’Donnell. After being there for about two hours, O’Donnell had sent Downer out to a pharmacy with a prescription for some powders, which Downer had obligingly obtained.

Downer said that Eugenie remained sick with chills and fever for about six weeks.

However, the case was thrown out because it hadn’t been ascertained that Eugenie had known that she was going to die when she told Mrs. Harvey about the abortion, thus her statement was inadmissible as a deathbed statement.


  • “‘Dr.’ C. C. O’Donnell,” San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 3, 1870
  • “The Chauvet Case,” San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 4, 1870