On February 21, 1929, 26-year-old Virginia Clark died of complications of a botched, illegal abortion perpetrated in Georgia. G. W. Wilbanks and W. A. N. Jones were charged with murder in her death. Wilbanks was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and the following information comes from the Westlaw commentary on his appeal.
Virginia was treated prior to her death by a Dr. McArthur, who testified
as to her dying declaration. He said that Virginia told him that when
she learned that she was pregnant, she told the man responsible that
"something would have to done about it." He made arrangements for an
abortion to be performed by a doctor. The paramour brought the doctor to
Virginia, and he used medicine and instruments on her. The procedure
was so painful that Virginia asked him to stop, so the doctor
administered chloroform. According to Dr. McArthur, Virginia told him
that this abortion "was what had butchered her up and was killing her."
Virginia didn't tell her mother, Mrs. Goodwyne, about the abortion. Mrs.
Goodwyne testified, "She (Virginia Clark) said that she went to the
theatre [in Atlanta] or something, and it seemed like there was
something broke, and she said she thought she wouldn't be able to get
back to the hotel, but she did."
Wilbanks tried to get his conviction overturned on the grounds of the
difference between what Virginia told her mother, and what she told Dr.
McArthur as she lay dying.
Virginia's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.
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