Ruth Friedl

Ruth Friedl1920s, 20s, abortifacient, questionablestoriesAccording to the National Organization for Women web site, Ruth Irene Friedl was a married, 27-year-old mother of two living in Denver. NOW’s site said that pregnancy was life-threatening for Ruth, but they don’t specify why, nor do they say why she was denied an abortion, since there were always exceptions made for abortions deemed necessary to save the mother’s life.

NOW says that Ruth drank ergot apiol, an herbal abortifacient, on August 21, 1929. That night, according to NOW, Ruth collapsed at the dinner table in front of her husband and children, and died on the spot.

The only verification I can find of Ruth’s death is a Find-a-Grave memorial for Ruth I. Freidl, 1901-1929, buried in Colorado, and a FaceBook post that has a bit more information and some photos:

RuthFriedl.jpgRuth Irene Friedl (Aug. 24, 1901 – Aug. 21, 1929)

After having her daughter, Ruth Friedl was told that another pregnancy would be medically dangerous. When she became pregnant, her uncle, a doctor, said he would not perform an abortion, since he could lose his license and be imprisoned. She did not tell her husband she was pregnant and attempted to self-abort by drinking a plant poison, ergot apiol. She died that night in front of her husband and two small children.

In 1967, Colorado legalized abortion for rape, incest, suspected fetal anomaly, and threat to the mother’s health. However, even before then, doctors were allowed to take steps they thought were necessary to save the mother’s life. There’s no clarification of what risks there were to Ruth, but whatever the risks were, they weren’t serious enough that Ruth’s physician uncle thought he could do the abortion legally or legally refer her for an abortion.

I’d welcome any verifying information on Mrs. Friedl’s death. After all, NOW also claims that Becky Bell died from complications of an illegal abortion, when in fact she died of pneumonia concurrent with a miscarriage, and they claim that Pauline Shirley died from an illegal abortion when her death certificate indicates a miscarriage. Their claim that Clara Duvall died from a self-induced abortion is based on what she purportedly told her 12-year-old daughter shortly before her death, which was attributed to pneumonia. It’s therefore hardly surprising that I can’t find anything to verify that Ruth died from an abortion.

If NOW’s story is true, Ruth’s abortion was unusual in that it was self-induced rather than performed by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s. 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