Myrtle Shall

Myrtle Shallpennsylvania, selfinduced, 20s, 1920sSUMMARY: Myrtle Shall, age 22, died in Pittsburgh’s West Penn Hospital on August 29, 1926 from complications of a self-induced abortion.

On Wednesday, August 18, 1926, 22-year-old Myrtle E. Phillips Shall’s friends and her fiance, Bruce Armstrong, brought her to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. She had been feverish and in pain for the past three weeks, and now she was in shock.

Bruce, who said he’d known Myrtle for six or seven years, knew only that his fiancee was terribly ill but didn’t know why. Her mother, Alice Phillips, on the other hand, was able to tell the doctor more. Myrtle, she said, had attempted a self-induced abortion when her period had been two weeks later. At first her vaginal bleeding was a welcomes sign that the abortion had worked, but when it continued for three weeks, accompanied by fever and pain, her family and friends had become concerned.

Myrtle had been perfectly well prior to inducing the abortion. Now she was vomiting and the doctors found her to be weak and anemic, with a rapid pulse and respiration and an alarming blood pressure of 136/100. In spite of all of the doctors’ best efforts, Myrtle died at 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, August 29.

The inquest, held there at the hospital and using medical testimony by Dr. John Danner and Dr. Harold H. McBurney, concluded that Myrtle had died of peritonitis from a self-induced abortion.

Myrtle, who had been born May 30 1904, lived in Leechburg PA, and had evidently been married, but was either widowed or divorced at the time of her death.


  • Allegheny County (PA) Coroner’s Summary 192608-248
  • Death certificate