Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Selection of Physicians, 1892 - 1989

The Infamous Lucy Hagenow Gets her Start in Chicago, 1892

At about 9:00 on the morning of Sunday, September 25, 1892, 30-year-old Sophia Kuhn "died in great agony" at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She had been brought there by ambulance the previous evening from Dr. Louise Hagenow's practice at 882 West Madison Street.

"That the woman died from the result of a most cruel criminal operation is fairly well established, and an inquest to-day will beyond question reveal the details of what has every appearance of being little less than a butchery."

A poor quality picture of a white woman of late middle age, with sharp features, wearing round spectacles and a sailor-style blouse and hat
Louise "Lucy" Hagenow
Louise Hagenow and Ellen Hellieu were arrested. Sophia's father identified them as responsible for his daughter's death. Sophie, who had been separated from her husband for about two years, had been living with her sister, Mrs. White, at the time of the pregnancy and abortion. Sophie's brother-in-law, William White, said, "My sister-in-law left home about two weeks ago. She was then complaining of being sick and in trouble. I am certain she did not go to Mrs. Hagenow and the other doctors of her own accord. There was a man in the case who must have persuaded her to submit to an operation."

While police were interviewing Hagenow, who also used the name Lucy Hagenow, at her practice, Hellieu "rushed breathless into her apartments. When she saw Dr. Hagenow's interviewer, she exclaimed: 'Don't say anything!' Then she sank exhausted upon a sofa."

Hagenow had already been implicated in the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dories, Abbie Richards, Emma Dep in San Francisco before relocating to Chicago in 1890.

She was implicated in the abortion deaths of Minnie Deering in 1891. Shortly after Sophie's death, Hagenow was again arrested, this time for the abortion death of Emily Anderson. Further abortion deaths associated with Hagenow's Chicago practice include:
More Chicago Physicians, 1925

On September 25, 1925, Faye McGinnis, a 23-year-old clerk, died at her home in Chicago from complications of an abortion performed that day. The coroner identified two physicians, Walter Penningdorf and Walter Voight, as being responsible. For Faye to choose a physician abortionist was common in Chicago in that era, though midwives were a popular choice as well. The doctors were arrested on September 25 and indicted for felony murder on October 15. Faye's husband, Roy McGinnis, was also arrested as an accomplice in his wife's death.

Safe and Legal in 1978

Minnie Lathan is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. Minnie was 41 when she had an abortion and tubal ligation performed some time in September of 1978. Her uterus was perforated and her colon damaged during the procedure. She developed an infection and was hospitalized at Cleveland Clinic Hospital. She died there on September 25.


The Unsavory Leo Kenneally, 1986
Twenty-two-year-old Liliana Cortez, an immigrant, underwent a safe and legal abortion by Leo Kenneally at his Her Medical Clinic in Los Angeles on September 20, 1986. Other than having asthma, Liliana was in good health when she went for her abortion. After the procedure, she went into cardiac arrest. There was a 40-minute delay until the paramedics arrived to transport Liliana to a hospital. She died five days later.


Liliana's death was ruled a "therapeutic misadventure," which a coroner's spokesman called, "a nice medical term for a mistake." An attorney for Her Medical Clinic said, "If something like this happened at a hospital ... people would just say it was bad luck, one of those flukey things. But ... all of a sudden they make it seem like these (abortion clinics) are terrible places where terrible things happen." Donna Heim and Michelle Thames also died after abortions at Her Medical Clinic.

Septic Shock in Alabama, 1989

Debra Walton was 35 years old when she underwent an abortion in the fall of 1989. On September 24, 1989, about three weeks after the abortion, she was admitted to University Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. She was in septic shock. Despite efforts to save her, she died the next day, September 25, 1989. Her death certificate does not say where the abortion took place or who performed it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Nurse's Fatal Work

On September 24, 1927, 35-year-old homemaker Martha Kohnke died in Chicago from a criminal abortion performed that day. Nurse Emma Schultz was held by the coroner on October 5.

Schultz had also been implicated in the abortion death of Mary Bambrick in October of 1911, but that case never went to trial.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Strange Discoveries and Inexplicable Endangerment

Chicago, 1899: A Funeral Interrupted

On Sunday, September 24, 1899, police stopped the funeral procession of 29-year-old Mary Kakacek. Her body was taken for an autopsy. The coroner's jury concluded that Mary's death in her home the previous day had been due to a criminal abortion perpetrated by midwife Annie Stanek. Mary's use of a midwife was typical of Chicago illegal abortions of the era, that were frequently perpetrated by medical professionals.

During her final illness, Mary had made a dying statement telling of her visits to Stanek, stating that she was treated harshly by the midwife. Stanek was held without bail by the Coroner's Jury.

1907: Abortion in Indiana, Death in Chicago


On September 23, 1907, 27-year-old homemaker Mabel Brock of Lake Station, Indiana, died in Chicago's John Streeter Hospital. The coroner's jury determined that she had died from an abortion perpetrated by midwife Mrs. Lobbie from Hobart, Indiana on September 5.

Chicago, 1912: Suspicions at the Undertaking Establishment

A portrait of a young white woman of the turn of the 20th century, with very thick, dark hair in an updo.
Anna Rice
On Monday, September 23, 1912, the body of Anna "Annie" Rice was taken from the Chicago home of Dr. Maximillian Meinhardt to the undertaking establishment of E. I. Harty. Dr. Henry G. W. Reinshardt, the deputy coroner, went to Harty's business, saw Annie's body on the slab, and questioned Harty. He learned that the death certificate said that the young woman had died of pneumonia, but that her body showed signs of trauma. .Reinhardt considered this fishy and performed an autopsy. He was able to determine that Annie had died of abortion complications, but was unable to determine from examination of the body if the abortion had been self-inflicted or perpetrated by somebody else.

Another deputy coroner, David G. Gillespie, convened a coroner's jury to investigate the circumstances of the fatal abortion. He found out that Annie had gone to Meinhardt's home the previous Saturday. Meinhardt said that she was already seriously ill and he provided care for her because she refused to go to a hospital. Annie's friends and relatives, however, said she'd been in good health when they'd seen her last.

On Monday morning, Annie was so sick that Meinhardt overrode her wishes and summoned an ambulance. Annie collapsed and died right as the ambulance was pulling up. After tracking down her relatives, he said, he'd sent the body to the undertaker of their choice.

Meinhardt insisted, even after the autopsy, that the young woman had died of heart failure and pneumonia. So far I've been unable to determine the outcome of the case.

Meinhard went on to be embroiled in the August 1915 abortion death of Stella Cams at his Lake Shore Hospital and the 1917 abortion death of Emma Melvin.


Chicago, 1915: Five Doctors, One Death

Stella Cams, age 30, died on August 2, 1915. at Chicago's Lake Shore Hospital. She had been admitted under the name "Mrs. Steele."

She had been sick since July. On the 17th, her husband, Harry Cams, called Dr. Thomas J. Balhatchett to attend to his wife. Balhatchett declared that she was suffering ill effects from an accident and called in Dr. Patrick Mills. Stella didn't speak English, so Mills could not get any information from her. He found Stella to be very ill, and, not liking the situation, left Balhatchett to deal with Stella's care alone. It was then that Balhatchett called in Dr. G. A. Stetler, who evidently recognized that he was dealing with an abortion case, and that a second surgery was necessary. One of the doctors performed it.

The next day somebody asked a nurse, Jeannette Houston, to provide nursing care. She hadn't been told before arriving that this was an abortion case. She din't want to stay but did anyway, caring for Stella until her admission to the hospital on July 29.


There, Dr. Maximillian Meinhard (hospital owner and/or head of surgery, specializing in ear, nose, and throat disorders), declared that Stella was suffering from pneumonia and handed her off to Dr. Charles W. Clark, who, not having been given a medical history also diagnosed Stella with pneumonia. She died on September 23.

Stella was to be buried as a pneumonia victim, but Dr. Springer, coroner, had herd vague rumors and decided to perform an autopsy. Concluding that Stella had actually died from a septic abortion, he set an inquest date of August 27 in order to have time to gather evidence.

Meinhart had been involved with abortion-related trouble before. In September of 1912, the body of Anna Rice was taken from his home to an undertaking establishment. He told the undertaker, E. I. Harty, that Anna had died of pneumonia. Harty notified the coroner, An inquest was held and the coroner's jury concluded that Anna had died from a botched abortion. Menhardt was implicated in 1917 in the abortion death of Emma Melvin.


New York, 1971: An Antiquated Abortion Technique Proves Fatal

"Barbara" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a legal abortion. Barbara was 35 years old when she traveled from Michigan to New York for a safe and legal abortion in 1971, taking advantage of New York's enlightened abortion law. She was 20 weeks pregnant.

The doctor chose a saline abortion, which works by injecting a strong sterile salt solution into the amniotic fluid. As the fetus swallows and inhales the solution, it experiences massive internal hemorrhaging. Once the fetus dies, the woman goes into labor. Within 24 hours of being injected with saline for the abortion, she went into convulsions, then her heart stopped.

Efforts to save her failed. She died on September 23, 1971, leaving behind five children. The autopsy could find no anatomical cause of death.

The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to "Danielle," these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:


  • Pearl Schwier, July, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • Carmen Rodriguez, July, 1970, salt solution intended to kill the fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • Barbara Riley, July, 1970, sickle-cell crisis triggered by abortion recommended by doctor due to her sickle cell disease
  • "Amanda" Roe, September, 1970, sent back to her home in Indiana with an untreated hole poked in her uterus
  • Maria Ortega, October, 1970, fetus shoved through her uterus into her pelvic cavity then left there
  • "Kimberly" Roe, December, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Amy" Roe, January, 1971, massive pulmonary embolism
  • "Andrea" Roe, January, 1971, overwhelming infection
  • "Sandra" Roe, April, 1971, committed suicide due to post-abortion remorse
  • "Anita" Roe, May, 1971, bled to death in her home during process of outpatient saline abortion
  • Margaret Smith, June 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Annie" Roe, June, 1971, cardiac arrest during anesthesia
  • "Audrey" Roe, July, 1971, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Vicki" Roe, August, 1971, post-abortion infection
  • "April" Roe, August, 1971, injected with saline for outpatient abortion, went into shock and died
  • "Tammy" Roe, October, 1971, massive post-abortion infection
  • Carole Schaner, October, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Beth" Roe, December, 1971, saline injection meant to kill fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • "Roseann" Roe, February, 1971, vomiting with seizures causing pneumonia after saline abortion
  • "Connie" Roe, March, 1972, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Julie" Roe, April, 1972, holes torn in her uterus and bowel
  • "Robin" Roe, May, 1972, lingering abortion complications
  • "Roxanne" Roe, May, 1972, given overdose of abortion sedatives
  • "Danielle" Roe, May, 1972, air in her bloodstream
Wisconsin, 1995: The Same Antiquated Technique Proves Fatal Again

The widower of a Wisconsin teacher killed in a safe, legal abortion has filed suit against the hospital training the resident who did the procedure. Linda Boom, age 35, went to Sinai Samaritan Medical Center in Milwaukee for an abortion on September 21, 1995.

Linda and her husband, Dennis Boom, had married in 1993 and planned to start a family. Linda learned that she was pregnant in June of 1995, but in September elected abortion because the fetus had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Linda's aunt had Down Syndrome, which Linda believed meant "no life."

Fourth-year resident Karen S. Watson administered an amnioinfusion. Linda reported pain and said she was "burning up all over." This is consistent with what a woman might experience during a botched saline abortion. Watson's supervising physician, Daniel Gilman, injected more chemicals into Linda's uterus. Dennis Boom's attorney, Patrick Dunphy, said that the two injections caused the heart damage that killed Linda 36 hours after the first injection.

Watson did not use ultrasound to guide the needle injecting the poison into Linda, and apparently she injected the chemicals directly into Linda's bloodstream instead of into the amniotic sac.

The defense, of course, says that there was no negligence. Also, the hospital says that Gilman is responsible for Linda's death, because he performed the second injection and was supervising Watson. Gilman can't be named in the suit because the statute of limitations expired before Linda's husband filed.

News coverage of the case does not indicate why Watson and Gilman chose the antiquated instillation technique for Linda's abortion. Since the late 1960s, nations such as Sweden, Japan, and the Soviet Union had abandoned instillation abortions as being far too dangerous for the mother. US abortionists began abandoning the technique in the mid-1980s.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Deadly Journey: Indianapolis to New York and Back, 1970

"Amanda" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. After years of research I was able to identify her. To allow her family to maintain their privacy, I am giving her a pseudonym using her initials: Linda Michelle Hoffman.

Linda was a 19-year-old Indiana University sophomore and an outstanding student when she traveled from Indiana to New York for a legal abortion in 1970. She was 12 weeks pregnant. The doctor performed the abortion on September 3. He was unable to remove any of the fetus or placenta. For some reason, he did not suspect a problem. He discharged Linda and she returned home.

Upon her return, she suffered from pain, nausea, and vomiting, so she sought care from a physician in her community. She was admitted to the Indiana University Medical Center's William G. Coleman hospital with a perforated uterus.

Her doctor performed a lapartotomy, and found that the fetus was still inside Linda's perforated uterus. The abortion was completed and the hole in her uterus was repaired. After the surgery, she had a series of complications beginning with difficulty breathing. On September 10, doctors performed a hysterectomy. She continued to be treated in the hospital, but despite all their efforts she died on September 22.

Dr. Paul Jarrett was one of the doctors who tried to save her life. His full story is here.


A few months into my residency, I came face to face with the issue of abortion for the first time. An 18-year-old Indiana University coed came into Coleman Hospital with lower abdominal pain. She related to me that she had been to New York City earlier that day to have a legal abortion performed at a clinic there. She had gotten on a plane at 8am at Indianapolis International Airport and flown to New York. She was taken to a legitimate clinic by a cab driver. She had believed she was two and a half months pregnant, but after the doctor had unsuccessfully attempted to abort the pregnancy, he told her she wasn't really pregnant after all and sent her home. She returned to Indiana on the 4pm flight as planned.
When she returned home in terrible pain, she realized she was in trouble and for the first time, told her mother what had happened to her. Her mother contacted her own gynecologist, who in turn referred the patient to Coleman Hospital to be evaluated by the resident on call--me. 
Even though I was still wet behind the ears, I know that this pale, frightened little girl was still 10 weeks pregnant and her blood count was only half of what it should be. The private, attending doctor came in and took the patient to surgery immediately that night, where he repaired the hole that had been torn in the back of her uterus, which had caused her massive internal hemorrhage.
Over the course of the next few days, infection set in which did not respond to antibiotics, and we made the painful decision to perform a hysterectomy. Tragically, the shock from the infection severely damaged her lungs and her course was steadily downhill. As I helplessly watched, she slipped into unconsciousness and a few days later she died.
The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to "Amanda," these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:


  • Pearl Schwier, July, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • Carmen Rodriguez, July, 1970, salt solution intended to kill the fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • Barbara Riley, July, 1970, sickle-cell crisis triggered by abortion recommended by doctor due to her sickle cell disease
  • Maria Ortega, October, 1970, fetus shoved through her uterus into her pelvic cavity then left there
  • "Kimberly" Roe, December, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Amy" Roe, January, 1971, massive pulmonary embolism
  • "Andrea" Roe, January, 1971, overwhelming infection
  • "Sandra" Roe, April, 1971, committed suicide due to post-abortion remorse
  • "Anita" Roe, May, 1971, bled to death in her home during process of outpatient saline abortion
  • Margaret Smith, June, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Annie" Roe, June, 1971, cardiac arrest during anesthesia
  • "Audrey" Roe, July, 1971, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Vicki" Roe, August, 1971, post-abortion infection
  • "April" Roe, August, 1971, injected with saline for outpatient abortion, went into shock and died
  • "Barbara" Roe, September, 1971, cardiac arrest after saline injection for abortion
  • "Tammy" Roe, October, 1971, massive post-abortion infection
  • Carole Schaner, October, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Beth" Roe, December, 1971, saline injection meant to kill fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • "Roseann" Roe, February, 1971, vomiting with seizures causing pneumonia after saline abortion
  • "Connie" Roe, March, 1972, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Julie" Roe, April, 1972, holes torn in her uterus and bowel
  • "Robin" Roe, May, 1972, lingering abortion complications
  • "Roxanne" Roe, May, 1972, given overdose of abortion sedatives
  • "Danielle" Roe, May, 1972, air in her bloodstream

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Doctor's Work: Chicago, 1930

On September 9, 1930, 20-year-old telephone operator Matilda Kleinschmidt underwent a criminal abortion, believed to have been performed in the office of Dr. J. Murney Nicholson.

When she took ill, her boyfriend told her that he would call in another doctor to care for her. Matilda insisted, "Another doctor won[']t look at me. He won[']t take the case."

Matilda died on September 21. On September 22, Nicholson was held by the coroner for murder. John C. Ross was held as an accessory. Nicholson was indicted for felony murder in Matilda's death.

A New Death from 2002

Thanks to JoAnna Wahlund for alerting me to this abortion death, which I had previously not known about.

n September of 1996, Gabriella Alonso underwent an abortion at the private clinic of Dr. Ivan Kovachev in Queens, New York. She was seven weeks pregnant. The abortion was performed under anesthesia administered by nurse-anesthetist Dennis Morton. The anesthetic, Brevital, was administered via IV, and additional oxygen was provided to Gabriella via a face mask.

The only other clinic staff with any medical background at all were phlebotomists. Only Kovachev and Morton were trained in CPR.

The abortion itself was uncomplicated. Gabriella was then transferred to a "recovery room," which was just a room with eight easy chairs and no medical equipment. There was no heart or respiration monitor, no blood pressure cuff, no "crash cart" for resuscitation.

Kovachev later said that Gabriella was conscious coming out of the procedure room. Nurse Morton said that she was "drowsy," meaning that she was not yet alert enough that it would be safe for Morton to remove the oxygen mask.

Gabriella was one of seven patients on whom Kovachev performed abortions in a 90-minute period, which allowed an average of ten minutes per patient. There were several patients in the "recovery room" in addition to Gabriella, but there was no medical oversight. The only clinic employee in the room was a billing clerk.

After transferring Gabriella to her armchair, Kovachev and Morton went back into the procedure room to do an abortion on another patient.

At some point the clerk noticed that Gabriella wasn't breathing and summoned Kovachev. He and Morton had to finish the other patient's abortion and bring her out of anesthesia before they could turn their attention to Gabriella. They brought her into the procedure room and performed CPR until ambulance staff arrived and took the comatose woman to Elmhurst Hospital. Kovachev attributed Gabriella's injury to "too much Brevital."

Somebody reported Kovachev's treatment of Gabriella to the police, who confiscated several vials of medications that were two years past their expiration date.

Gabriella spent the final six years of her life in a vegetative state until finally dying during the summer of 2002.

On autopsy, Gabriella's brain showed the kind of shrinkage and hardening that is expected after years in a vegetative state. Ultimately pneumonia, a commonplace complication of a vegetative state, was the direct cause of Gabriella's death.

To add more tragedy, documents from the lawsuit Gabriella's family had filed against Kovachev and Morton indicate that six months after Gabriella's abortion, the doctor and nurse had allowed another patient to lapse into a coma. When asked why the woman had been left comatose, Morton had replied, "I don't know."

He also indicated that as far as he was concerned, his responsibility for the patient ended when the abortion was finished. He didn't seem to think that making sure that his patient was alert after anesthesia and being properly monitored with appropriate equipment and a trained staff person was any of his concern.

Kovachev's qualifications also left a lot to be desired. He had attended medical school in Eastern Europe and only completed a single year of residency in the United States. He was not certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Still, his shortcomings were inexcusable. Dr. Melinek ruled Gabriella's death a homicide. To her knowledge, though, no action was ever taken against Kovachev by the medical board or law enforcement.


Other women who languished for years in a coma or vegetative state before dying from delayed abortion complications include:


  • Venus Ortiz, who spent five years in a nursing home before dying in December of 1998
  • Suzanne Logan, who languished, mute and paralyzed, for three years until her death in December of 1992
  • Shelby Moran, who was cared for in a nursing home for over 20 years until her death in September of 1999
  • Christi Stile, who spent nearly 22 years in a vegetative state until her death in March of 2015

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ohio in 1922 and Los Angeles in 1986

Illegal in Ohio, 1922

Mary Gresky took ill, dying of blood poisoning on September 20, 1922, from a criminal abortion performed with some sort of instrument on September 16 in Ohio. On her deathbed, she named Mary Vargo as the perpetrator who used some sort of instrument on her.

Mary Vargo was found guilty of criminal malpractice, but won an appeal on the grounds of of improper instructions to the jury, irregularities of the admission of the deathbed statement, and failure to prove that the abortion had been part of a prior pattern of criminal activity by Mary Vargo. I have been unable to determine Mary Vargo's profession.

One of Three Dead at the Same Clinic, Los Angeles, 1986

Twenty-two-year-old Liliana Cortez, an immigrant, underwent a safe and legal abortion by Leo Kenneally at his Her Medical Clinic in Los Angeles on September 20, 1986. Other than having asthma, Liliana was in good health when she went for her abortion. After the procedure, she went into cardiac arrest. There was a 40-minute delay until the paramedics arrived to transport Liliana to a hospital. She died five days later.

Liliana's death was ruled a "therapeutic misadventure," which a coroner's spokesman called, "a nice medical term for a mistake." An attorney for Her Medical Clinic said, "If something like this happened at a hospital ... people would just say it was bad luck, one of those flukey things. But ... all of a sudden they make it seem like these (abortion clinics) are terrible places where terrible things happen."

Donna Heim and Michelle Thames also died after abortions at Her Medical Clinic.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

From 1929 to 2003, Fatal Abortions

A Doctor in Tacoma, 1929

Sometime most likely in September of 1929, physician and surgeon H. W. Coulter performed an abortion upon 21-year-old Gene Raligh, leading to her death in Tacoma, Washington on September 18 from septicemia.

Gene's survivors alleged that not only did Coulter injure her, but he also failed to treat her infection and instead concealed the extent of her illness and injury, preventing her from getting medical care that might have saved her life.


An Unknown Perp in Oklahoma, 1958

At around 8:00 on the evening of September 17, 1958, 31-year-old "Glenda Coe" (named changed at request of family) and her four daughters got ready for bed. The girls retired for the night. The eldest girl, 12 years old, awoke at around 1:00 on the morning of September 18, 1958, and went to the master bedroom to find her mother dead. Before her death, Glenda had changed out of her nightclothes and into street clothes.

At first, authorities suspected either natural death or a suicide. However, all evidence indicated that Glenda, a waitress, had been in good health before her death. An autopsy found that Glenda had died due to air bubbles in her bloodstream, and that she had been pregnant at the time of her death. A more careful examination determined that Glenda had died from an abortion attempt.

Glenda and her ex-husband, 34-year-old James Paul Morton, had been divorced for several years. James was arrested for questioning. Witnesses said they had seen him at Glenda's home the night before her death. He was released after four days, though authorities declined to tell the press if he had been cleared or not.


Safe and Legal in North Carolina, 1993

Thirty-six-year-old Kathy McKnight (pictured) of Charlotte, North Carolina underwent an abortion on September 17, 1993. Early the next morning, Kathy had trouble breathing. She was taken to University Memorial Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kathy died in the emergency room. Her autopsy revealed that she died of a pulmonary embolism.

One of Three at a National Abortion Federation Clinic, 2003

Dr. Alberto Hodari
According to this administrative complaint, Regina Johnson (Identified only by the initials R.J.) was 32 years old when she went to Womancare of Southfield, Michigan on September 18, 2003. The clinic was owned by Dr. Abraham Alberto Hodari, darling of Medical Students for Choice. Regina was pregnant for the fourth time, having given birth once, and either aborted or miscarried twice. Hodari, owner of Womancare, was not present at the time.

Nurse Litchtig performed an ultrasound, "even though there was no physician order for the study. She interpreted the study as showing a five week pregnancy and signed [Hodari's] name..." Nathanson initialed the ultrasound to confirm Lichtig's finding.

CRNA Thompson did the anesthesia while Dr. Milton Nathanson did the abortion. Regina was given 200 mg of Diprivan, 2 mg Fentanyl, .2mg Gylcopyrrolate, and Droperidol to anestetize her for the abortion, which was charted as taking place from 9:55 to 10:05 a.m.

Regina was then sent to the recovery room, along with five or six other patients under the care of Litchtig. Though clinic protocol required more than one staff person present when patients were in recovery, Lichtig was sometimes alone in caring for the patients.

Though Hodari's recovery room was equipped with a stethescope, oxygen bag/valve mask, and digital blood pressure cuff, it was not equipped with an EKG monitor, pulse oximeter, or automatic blood pressure/pulse monitor with alarm for monitoring patients, or with oxygen, a difibrillator, or other resuscitaiton equipment.

Lichtig recorded Regina's blood pressure and pulse manually upon admission to recovery, and at 10 - 15 minute intervals. At 10:05, Regina's blood pressure and pulse were a normal 116/72 and 82. At 10:15, they were 108/56 and 88. This fall in blood pressure and rise in pulse, especially in combination, are an early sign that a patient might be suffering complications such as blood loss. However, Lichtig reported that Regina's respiration was easy and unlabored.

The document notes that Lichtig was actually performing above the call of duty: Womancare protocol only required her to check a patient's vitals upon arrival in recovery, at 15 minues, and at discharge, usually after about an hour in recovery. Hodari's protocol also allowed for the nurse to discharge patients from the clinic. "There was no provision that the patient be seen by a physician once she was transferred to the recovery room."

At 10:30, Lichtig was unable to rouse Regina, who still had a pulse and unlabored breathing. Lichtig tried for about ten minutes to awaken Regina. At about 10:40, she could no longer detect a pulse. She immediately told CRNA Thompson, who was then wheeling another patient into recovery. The two of them brought Regina back to the OR and began performing CPR. However, nobody called 911 until 11:00, twenty minutes after noting that Regina was pulseless. EMS arrived promptly, at 11:05.

EMS took Regina to Providence Hospital, where with continued CPR and got a pulse. Regina was put on life support, but was pronounced brain dead. She was taken off life support and declared dead on September 18. An autopsy determined that Regina had died from anoxic encephalopathy due to cardiac arrest. In other words, she died because her brain had been deprived of oxygen.


The Administrative Complaint found Hodari to be negligent, incompetent, and lacking in good moral character. Hodari did not contest the findings, instead cooperating with bringing his facility up to standards to pass an inspection by an anesthesiologist in February of 2009. But in the mean time, he'd performed the fatal abortions on Tamiia Russell and Chivon Williams in 2004.

The state Attorney General's office fined Hodari $10,000 on March 4, 2009, for his part in the death.

The latest National Abortion Federation update no longer lists Womancare as a member, though they were recently. They certainly were in 2004, when Chivon and Tamiia died, which is the oldest page of Michigan NAF members that I can find on the Internet Archive. Womancare was also still a member in 2007, the most recent update on the Internet Archive. I'd be very interested in having NAF Annual Reports so I could look up what years Hodari and his mills were members.