Norma Beck

Norma Beck1900s, 30s, chicago, illinois, illegaldoctorSUMMARY: Norma Beck, age 32, died at Lakeside Hospital on April 4, 1907 after an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Thomas Balhollchett in his Chicago office.

Lakeside.jpgLakeside Hospital, Chicago
On April 4, 1907, Mrs. Norma Beck, age 32, died at Lakeside Hospital in Chicago from septic peritonitis caused by a criminal abortion perpetrated at the office of Dr. Thomas J Balhatchett on March 24.

Dr. James W. Walker and Dr. H. N. Richter had attended Normal at the hospital, and relayed Norma’s deathbed statement to police. She directly implicated Balhatchett. Some of her relatives and friends also spoke to the police, fingering Balhatchett.

Balhollchett was held by the coroner’s jury and indicted, but there is no record that the case went to trial.

Norma’s abortion was usual in that it was performed by a physician. The assertion by abortion-rights organizations is that before legalization, the world of abortion was a world of rusty coathangers and untrained quacks is an insult to the abortion-minded women of yesteryear. It presumes that they were all so mentally unhinged or utterly mindless. The vast majority sought out professionals of the same caliber they’d go to for any other gynecological or obstetric issue.

StealCredit.jpgNote, please, that with 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.It was, in fact, advances in public health and in medicine that brought about the rapid decline in maternal mortality, including abortion mortality, during the 20th century. Crediting the improved survival rate of women having abortions is either misinformed or dishonest.

For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

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



  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