Mary Wojnovich

Mary Wojnovich19101919, 20s, selfinduced, infection, pennsylvaniaSUMMARY: Mary Komlich Wojnovich, a 26-year-old immigrant from Croatia, died on March 3, 1918 at West Side Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA from complications of a self-induced abortion.

Nikola Wojnovich of Pittsburgh said that on Saturday, February 16, 1918, his 26-year-old wife, Mary, seemed unwell after dinner, very unstable on her feet. Nikola asked her what was wrong, and she said she didn’t know, perhaps she had caught cold while washing the windows. She asked him to help her to bed. He then sent for Dr. Zabaranko, who examined her and prescribed some medication.

The next day Zabaranko returned and diagnosed her with inflammation of the uterus and instructed Nikola to put an ice pack on her abdomen. On Thursday, February 21, Mary’s condition was worse, and Nikola summoned Zabaranko again. When he examined her, he called an ambulance and sent her to Pittsburgh’s South Side Hospital, where Dr. S. A. Beddall admitted her for treatment for “incomplete abortion and pelvic peritonitis due to self inflicted abortion at home 2 weeks ago.”

After Mary’s death, at about 2:00 on the morning of Saturday, March 3, Dr. Henry Klinzing jotted a note to the coroner on a prescription pad saying that Mary, a homemaker and Croatian immigrant, had made a deathbed statement to him on March 1, saying “she inserted a stick of wood into the uterus to bring on menstruation feeling she was pregnant. From this she developed a pelvic peritonitis and subsequently a septic pneumonia from which she died.”

Mary’s abortion is in keeping with turn-of-the-20th-century Pittsburgh abortion deaths, which heavily inclined toward self-induced, in contrast to Chicago abortions of the same period, which were predominately perpetrated by doctors and midwives.

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


  • Coroner’s summary 191802-294
  • Death certificate


  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