Rosie Kawera

SUMMARY: Rosie Kawera died on June 14, 1916 after an abortion perpetrated by midwife Wilhemina Benn in Chicago.
In June of 1916, Rosie Kawera of Chicago asked a friend to go with her to visit Mrs. Wilhelmina Benn, a licensed midwife. Kawera explained to her friend that “she had a little baby; she wanted to get some medicine to get it out.” Kawera was twenty-nine years old, Russian-born, married to a “moulder,” mother of an eleven-month-old baby, and two months pregnant.
She borrowed $10 from her brother and went to Mrs. Benn’s. While her friend waited in the kitchen, Kawera went into the bedroom, where Mrs. Benn inserted what Kawera called “a little pipe.” Mrs. Benn told Kawera to keep it in overnight and to phone whenever she got “sick.” Rosie died on June 14.

Benn had been previously charged in the March, 1906 abortion death of Otilia Winker. She would later be charged in the December 31, 1917 abortion death of 40-year-old homemaker Victoria Chmileuski.


  • Leslie Reagan, When Abortion Was a Crime, citing an inquest held Jun. 15, 1916
  • death certificate
  • “Midwife Held for Abortion,” Chicago Tribune, Jun.16, 1916