Daily FYI: "Hysteria" Defense Gets 19-Century Woman Acquitted of Murder Charges

We've all heard the horrifying, white-knuckle-inducing stories of the hundreds of thousands of hysterectomies woman have undergone since the 1800s. While many women still undergo the surgery to combat uterine cancer and other nether-bit maladies, many of these surgeries are the stuff nightmares are made of. Everything from "eating like a plough-man" to "causing trouble" and "erotic tendencies" have served as a justifiable reason to go under the knife; our uteruses are womb-bombs of potential evil, didn't you know?!

Well, this one's for you ladies. For all the sweet sweet lady-bits that have ended up on the butcher block, we've got a triumphant tale of ureteral glory for ya.

In 1881, 18-year-old Lastania Abarta was living in L.A., working at her parents' pool hall, playing guitar and singing songs; soon enough, her path crossed with local Casanova (and the city's most eligible bachelor—his father was a real estate tycoon), Francisco "Chico" Forster. On March 14th, Abarta was asked to sing at a chichi party given by Pio Pico, California's last Mexican governor; Forster was in attendance and they ran off together to the Moiso Mansion Hotel in lustful bliss.

Forster and Abarta proceeded to get their freak on with the promise that if she dropped trou, Forster would—of course!—marry her. Ah, the woeful naivete of youth; Forster didn't mean it! Forster failed to show up post-coitus with ring, priest or promise of love forever, so Abarta did what any heartbroken gal would. She and her sister hunted him down by carriage and, upon finding him gambling, dragged him into their carriage to head to church.

Forster however, decided this trip had lasted long enough—but alas, escape was not his fate. As the Merry Widows of Chicago famously warbled, "We parted because of artistic differences. He saw himself as alive, and I saw him dead."

And so it was. Forster fled the carriage and Abarta shot him right through the damn eye. As Forster's father was a big man-about-town, it was pretty much assumed she'd go away—for a long time.

But in a spectacle that modern prosecutors could sincerely admire, Abarta's defense lawyers trotted out a trendy new diagnosis—hysteria! Seven medical "experts" gave their testimonials including the most infamous declaration by Dr. Joseph Kurtz:

Any virtuous woman, when deprived of her virtue, would go mad, undoubtedly.

Her brain was "clogged with blood" people! It wasn't her fault! Word on the street is that the spectators in the courtroom burst in spontaneous applause at Kurtz's declaration and 20 minutes later? Abarta was acquitted. 

So there ya have it. Robert Kardashian is probably green to the gills.

Image: ThinkStock

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