Dublin’s ‘Backstreet Abortionists’ (1930s – 1950s)

Come Here To Me!

In a very grim way, Mamie Cadden (1891 -1959) found her way into the folklore of Dublin city. Dublin’s most infamous ‘backstreet abortionist’, her name was almost synonymous with evil in the city for a generation, and she emerges in several memoirs of Dublin in the mid-twentieth century. Edna O’Brien remembered hearing of Cadden, “to some an angel of deliverance, to others a murderer, and who would die, declared insane, in a lunatic asylum in Dundrum.”

MamieCadden.jpg Mamie Cadden, photographed following one of several arrests.

Yet Mamie Cadden, whose story has inspired books (Ray Kavanagh’s Mamie Cadden: Backstreet Abortionist) and documentaries was just one part of a much bigger tale. In the Dublin of her time, there were many others who emerged as so-called ‘backstreet abortionists’, and across the city men and women like Cadden offered to provide terminations to women who found themselves in crisis pregnancies.

In 1941, The…

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