Gertrude Plenz

Gertrude PlenzabortionistsfemaleplenzAd.jpgChicago Tribune ad, 1904In January of 1907, 24-year-old housekeeper Sarah Cushing died in Wesley Hospital in Chicago, from complications of a criminal abortion performed there that day. Midwife Gertrude Plenz was arrested and held by the coroner’s jury. Mrs. Plenz was also arrested in the abortion death of Margaret McCarthy in 1904.

In May of 1904, Miss Margaret McCarthy died in Chicago’s Mary Thompson Hospital from an illegal abortion performed some days earlier at an unknown location. Gertrude Plenz was arrested on for the death, and Benjamin Frederick, a boiler inspector, arrested for complicity. Both Plenz and Frederick were held by Coroner’s Jury. Although she was a midwife, Plenz is listed as an unskilled laborer in this arrest.

Plenz, listed in the 1910 Federal Census as “Lady Doctress,” was born November 22, 1858, in Hannif, Germany. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1883 and married Henry Plenz, who was listed as “Wood Turner.” They had two children, Rose and Henry Jr., and a servant named Sophia Rabe. Young Henry grew up to be a physician.

Plenz was the daughter of John and Anna (Vongraben) Kaiser. She died on March 11, 1942.

She and her sister, Sophie Mann, were both indicted in the 1937 abortion death of 25-year-old
Mary Kissell, the mother of a little girl. I can only find snippets about Mary’s death. Evidently she went to her family doctor after the abortion. He examined her and sent her to Cook County Hospital on July 17, 1937. She died in late July or early August.[1] Sophie , a midwife, preferred instructing her patients to take hot baths, use a hot water bottle on the abdomen, and use a concoction involving vinegar.[2]

  1. ^ Northeastern Reporter
  2. ^ Leslie Reagan, When Abortion Was a Crime