Thursday, December 01, 2016

Criminal Practice vs. Safe and Legal


There are two deaths from the Cemetery of Choice that took place on this date. I know little about the first, an illegal abortion death, but have an abundance of information about the woman who died on this date from a safe, legal abortion.

The Bad Old Days

On December 1, 1928, 23-year-old Esther Wahlstrom died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Lou E. Davis (pictured) was held by the coroner for murder by abortion on December 12. She was indicted for felony murder on December 15. Davis was also implicated in the abortion deaths of Anna Adler , Mary WhitneyAnna BorndalIrene Kirschner, and Gertrude Gaesswitz.

Fast forward over sixty years to the enlightened days of safe, legal abortion.

Safe and Legal

Susanne Logan died a long, lingering death after she went to Maryland's Hillview abortion clinic for an abortion on September 9, 1989. Her abortion was performed by Gideon Kioko. She was 13 weeks pregnant. There was no record of how much intravenous Brevital was administered to Susanne, or who administered the drug. There was also no record of any examination to determine of this drug was appropriate for Suzanne.

Susanne was already unconscious on the table when Kioko and his nurse entered the procedure room. Kioko was being assisted by an unlicensed nurse, who noted that Susanne's lips were turning blue. She told Kioko, who continued with the abortion procedure. There is no record that anybody monitored her vital signs or administered oxygen during the procedure. Only after the abortion was finished did anybody do anything to address Suzanne's respiratory arrest.

Eventually somebody summoned emergency medical services (EMS). The EMS personnel reported that the Hillview employees seemed "very confused and did not seem to know what they were doing." EMS staff also noted that Hillview staff had put an oxygen mask on Suzanne upside-down, so that she wasn't getting any oxygen.

Susanne was cyanotic (she had turned blue from lack of oxygen), her pupils were dilated. She was limp, and had no pulse and was not breathing. EMS workers managed to perform CPR and get Suzanne's heart and lungs working again, and transported her to a hospital.

Susanne remained comatose and was transferred to a nursing home. Four months after the abortion, she regained consciousness, but was paralyzed and unable to speak. She had no memory of the abortion, but was able to eventually recall having gone to the clinic.

Local prolifers visited Susanne, and bought her a device that allowed her to communicate. She was interviewed by 60 Minutes, and asked what she wanted. She replied, "To go home."

Susanne filed suit against Kioko and the clinic. In November of 1992, she finally won her suit, and was awarded $2.6 million and $10,000 a month for life, to cover her expenses. Sadly, Susanne died on December 1, before she had a chance to fulfill her wish of seeing her father again.

Debra Gray also died after an abortion at Hillview under circumstances almost identical to the chain of events that fatally injured Susanne.


A Blind Eye

The TV show 60 Minutes learned that abortion-rights organizations had long known hos seedy Hillview was. They interviewed Barbara Radford, then-president of the National Abortion Federation, she defended the head-in-the-sand attitude the organization took toward safety issues by saying, "We want to make sure that women have choices when it comes to abortion services, and if you regulate it too strictly, you then deny women access to the service." When they asked pro-choice Maryland State Senator Mary Boergers why nothing was being done to address dangerous abortion clinics. Boergers said, "There's only so much of a willingness to try to push a group like the pro-choice movement to do what I think is the responsible thing to do because they then treat you as if you're the enemy."

The political goal of "access" trumped the bodies and lives of women like Susanne and Debra. Is the abortion lobby devoted to women's access to safe abortions, or abortionists' access to vulnerable women?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Gamut of Abortion Deaths in Chicago

At around 2 p.m. on November 30, 1874, Charles A. Dix went to the Madison Street police station in Chicago to report that his wife, 25-year-old Mary Dix, had died at around 12:30 that morning at their home on West Randolph Street. He told the police that Dr. W. T. Aiken had perpetrated an abortion on Mary. After an intensive investigation, however, a coroner's jury concluded that Mary had performed the abortion herself, and Aiken had only been treating her afterward.

On April 2, 1912, 25-year-old homemaker Elizabeth Jorgeson died from an abortion perpetrated that day by Katie Sauer, whose profession is not given. Sauer was held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted by a Grand Jury on November 30. The case never went to trial.

On October 27, 1926, 34-year-old Sophie Peterson underwent an illegal abortion in the Chicago office of Dr. Frederick Springe.  She was taken to Mercy Hospital, where she died on November 30.  Springe was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury on December 15.

On November 30, 1927, 22-year-old homemaker Lucille van Iderstine died in the Chicago office of Dr. Emil Gleitsman (pictured) from an abortion that had been performed on her that day. Gleitsman was indicted for felony murder in Lucille's death on January 15, 1928.  Lucille's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. Evidently Gleitsman beat the rap on Lucille's death because he was later implicated in the abortion deaths of Jeanette Reder in 1930, Mary Colbert in 1933, and Marie O'Malley and Maggie Doe in 1942.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

From Safe and Legal to the Last Known Hagenow Victim

Safe and Legal in 1971

"Monicawas a 31-year-old mother of five. She requested an abortion when she was 8 weeks pregnant, but the abortion was delayed about a month in order to address "some health, personal and administrative problems." The abortion was scheduled for November 20, 1971.

Her doctor decided that it was best to simply remove Monica's uterus with the fetus still in it. The hysterectomy was done under general anesthesia with no apparent complications.

On the second day after surgery, Monica developed fever and nausea, and had no bowel sounds. The next day she felt unwell and had a distended abdomen. The next day, she felt better and resumed eating, but still had not had a bowel movement.

Six days after the surgery, November 26, Monica began to scream and vomit. She reported severe abdominal pain and couldn't see. Within an hour of the onset of these symptoms, Monica died.

The autopsy revealed grim findings. Monica had a severe infection that had interfered with her bowel function. As she continued to eat but not to have bowel movements, her bowels backed up, allowing gastric juices to enter her lungs and begin to digest them. She also had bacteria in her brain, which may have caused her blindness in the final hour of her life.


Aspiring Star Dies from Abortion, 1954

Virginia Watson
Virginia Hopkins Watson, an Illinois native, had been on a record-setting relay swimming team with Esther Williams in 1939, and had herself set the world's fifty-meter record in 1938. Virginia was 32 years old and pursuing a Hollywood career when she became pregnant in 1954.Deciding that a baby would hurt her career, Virginia arranged to have an abortion on November 18. An investigation uncovered that she had arranged for a lay abortionist, Roger Fred Brenon, to come to her house and perform the abortion there, while Virginia's husband, Arthur, carefully avoided learning too much about what was going on even after obsrving Brenon in the kitchen evidently sterilizing some instruments  by boiling them on the stove. At Virginia's instruction, Arthur also wrote a check payable to cash for $150 and gave it to Brenon.

After the abortion, Virginia became sick with vomiting and bleeing before passing the dead fetus. By November 26, Virginia had difficulty in breathing and was taken to California Hospital. On November 29th she was transferred to the General Hospital. She died there of massive infection.

In telling the authorities about the events that led to his wife's death, he indicated that Brenon had visited Virginia two years earlier, spent time alone with her, and went off with a check Arthur had written. During  both visits, Arthur said, he'd been under the impression that Brenon was a physician named Rogers. Brenon was convicted of second-degree murder. in Virginia's death.


An Unknown Perp in Chicago, 1930

Seventeen-year-old Dorothy Jasinski was brought to St. Mary's Hospital in Chicago by two unidentified women on November 17, 1930. Dorothy was treated there until her death on November 29. The coroner determined that Dorothy had died from an abortion performed in Michigan City, Indiana, the day she'd been brought to the hospital. The coroner recommended identification of the person or persons responsible, and his or their arrest on charges of murder.

The Last Know Victim of Dr. Lucy Hagenow, 1926

On November 29, 1926, 25-year-old stenographer Mary Moorehead died from a criminal abortion in the Chicago office of Dr. Lucy Hagenow. Hagenow was arrested November 13. She was sentenced to 14 years at Joliet Penitentiary, but was able to get her conviction overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial in 1929.

The judge, noting that there was no new evidence, dismissed the case, telling Hagenow, "You had better make your peace with God, Lucy Hagenow. I do not think your months on earth are many."  


Lucy Hagenow
Hagenow, who also went by the name of Louise or Louisa Hagenow, had a long and unsavory history of being involved in women's abortion deaths. The first were in San Francisco before Hagenow relocated to Chicago around 1890. The abortion deaths Hagenow was linked to include:

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Death in the Dakota Territories, 1888

Mrs. George Libby, age 18, died November 28, 1888, in Wahpeton in the Dakota territories.
Before her death she admitted that she had bought abortifacient drugs from "a traveling doctor who made a specialty of selling such drugs."

I have been unable to determine Mrs. Libby's given name.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Fatality in an Abortion Ring, 1942

On November 18, 1942, 26-year-old Madlyon McGeehan, an OPA employee who had been living in Washington DC., died at Prospect Hospital in New York of peritonitis after an illegal abortion.

Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, age 58, was arrested for homicide and held on $150,000 bail. His nurse, Camille Ewald, was held on $150,000 bail. His receptionist, Pearl Tense, and Dr. Max J. Weinstein, who was thought to have referred Madeline to Nisonoff, were also arrested.

At the time of Madlyon's death, Nisonoff was out on bail after being charged with performing another abortion, which the woman survived. During six hours of questioning, he denied any knowledge of Madlyon's death.

A man identified as Madlyon's friend, Henry Elters, was held as a material witness on $15,000 bail.

Elters reportedly told Assistant District Attorney James Carney that he had known Madlyon for about seven years, and that they had gone to Nisonoff's office in Queens on November 13. They gave Ewald $600. She told Elters to "take a walk." He returned to find Madlyon resting on a couch.

On November 15, Elters was told that Madlyon needed a blood transfusion. She was admitted to Prospect Hospital as Betty McGee. After her death there, she was correctly identified by her sister, Mary, who had come came from the family home at Hazleton, PA, to claim Madlyon's body.

Nisonoff was sentenced to 5 years in state prison, and Weinstein was sentenced to the city penitentiary.

As a result of the McGeehan case, the New York District Attorney's office began investigating other possible abortion rings in the city.

Madlyon's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Terrible Surprise: Thanksgiving, 1986

The Dreadful Thanksgiving Surprise, 1986

Eighteen year old Michelle Madden, a freshman at Mobile College, sought a safe and legal abortion from O.B. Evans at Family Planning Medical Center of Mobile, Alabama. It was performed on November 18, 1986. According to the friend who had accompanied Michelle to the abortion facility, Michelle had chosen abortion because a doctor had told her that her baby would have birth defects due to Michelle's epilepsy medication.

That very day, Michelle's parents were preparing to go to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. Madden's brother. They got a call from Michelle's roommate telling them that their daughter was sick.

"We didn't think anything of it. We told her we were going to come the next day to pick her up," Michelle's mother told the Mobile Press Register. But before they could leave home the next day, the house mother at the dorm called, asking if Michelle had gynecological problems. Again, the parents weren't particularly concerned. At that point, they weren't even aware that their daughter had been pregnant.

When they arrived at the dorm, they were told that Michelle was in the hospital. "We called the hospital and they said she was in surgery." They were at the hospital for an hour until the doctor finally came to them and told them that Michelle had undergone an abortion. When they were operating on Michelle, doctors told her parents, they found a leg bone, two pieces of skull, and some placenta still in Michelle's uterus.

"From what he told me at that point," said Mrs. Madden, a nurse, "I knew that for her to live would be a miracle, on the order of the Lord raising Lazarus from the dead. She was in such bad shape I didn't see how she could make it."

Michelle's mother was sadly right. Sepsis had already set in, and Michelle remained on life support dying on November 24. Her parents sued Evans and the facility, and in 1991 a jury awarded them $10 million in damages. 


Two Early 20th Century Chicago Deaths

On November 24, 1916, 24-year-old Mrs. M. Marazak died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

On November 24, 1907, homemaker Lizzie Paulson, age 38, died at County Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed that day. John and Minnie Nelson were arrested and held without bail. John Nelson was sentenced to Joliet for his role in Lizzie's death. John Nelson's profession is given as "outside labor force" and "abortion provider", so likely he was a professional lay abortionist.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Self-Induced and Illegal Abortion Deaths Spanning a Century

Self-Induced in Colorado, 1978

On November 15, 1978, 18-year-old "Sharon" was admitted to the Denver General Hospital emergency room. She was suffering from nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Her mood was alternating between agitation and lethargy. She reported having believed that she was pregnant -- though she had menstruated only three weeks previously -- and drinking two half-ounce bottle of pennyroyal oil. Since she had also been seriously depressed, doctors were unsure whether to consider her ingestion of pennyroyal as an abortion attempt or as a suicide attempt.

Sherran had used pennyroyal tea in the past to start her periods when she'd thought that she was pregnant. She'd become ill within a few hours of drinking the oil.

A medical botanist, Dr. Walter Lewis, wrote about the case:

Within two hours she vomited blood and bled from the vagina and eyes. By the third day her liver was damaged. On the sixth day, she sank into a coma and died on the seventh day.
This would indicate that Sharon died on November 22.

Upon autopsy it became clear that Sharon had not even been pregnant. The pennyroyal oil had done such serious damage to her liver that portions of it had died. During her hospitalization she, like Kris Humphry, had developed disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC, a disorder in which the blood can no longer clot). It was eventually the hemorrhagic damage to her liver that caused her death.

The Centers for Disease Control investigated Sharon's death, along with other deaths from illegal abortion. They concluded that she, like the others whose deaths they studied, had sought an abortion outside the medical establishment for "idiosyncratic reasons." 


Two Chicago Deaths, 1917 and 1913

On November 22, 1917, 20-year-old Helen Devora died at Chicago's West End Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

Four years to the day earlier, 33-year-old Hulda Tubbin died in Chicago, at the scene of an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Olaf Olson. Though Olson was indicted for felony murder, the case never went to trial.

Fishy Goings-On in California, 1897


On November 23, 1897, a funeral procession in Irvington, California, was stopped just as about the body was being loaded onto a ferry. The deceased was 24-year-old Ida Coakley, a homemaker who had only been married to John Coakley, a farmer, for two months. John reported that he'd taken her to the office of Dr. Samuel Hall the previous day to be treated for a heart problem.He had left the doctor's office and returned that evening only to find his wife dead. Her body was promptly removed to a funeral establishment.

A night watchman at a nearby bank had found the timing of the departure from the funeral establishment fishy and had contacted the police, hence the interruption of the funeral. Ida's body was taken for an autopsy, and a coroner's jury convened. They concluded "That Mrs. Ida Coakley, aged 24 years, nativity California, occupation housewife, residence Irvington, Alameda county, came to her death November 22, 1897, at 14 McAllister street, from septicaemia, following an attempt at abortion; and we further find that deceased came to her death from the effects of a criminal operation performed by Dr. Samuel H. Hall, and we further find that John Coakley was an accessory to the same crime."

Hall was arrested when he arrived in San Jose to visit his wife and daughter. He said that he'd not known that Ida had been pregnant when she and her husband had come to his office on Saturday. He'd treated her with morphine and nitroglycerin. On Monday see seemed okay, he said, but he left her for a while only to return to his office and find her dead. He said that he assumed that she must have died from an aneurysm.

John Coakley admitted that he had taken Ida to hall and asked if an abortion would be safe for her. When Hall had assured him that it would be safe, John paid $50 and Hall promptly took Ida into a procedure room. A few minutes later, Hall returned, told John that Ida had been fine, and sent her home.

Dr. Hall's daughter, Josephine Wells, testified that Ida had come to the McAllister Street house at about noon on the Saturday before her death. Hall had asked to use Josephine's room for a couple of days to care for Ida, who Hall told Josephine suffered heart disease. Ida was sitting in a chair by the fire the following Monday, where she died at about 6 o'clock in the evening.

The charges against John Coakley were dropped during the first trial in order to loosen his tongue against Hall. John Coakley proved useless during the trial, however. He broke down on the stand but the prosecution was unable to get him to say anything significant. The trial resulted in a hung jury, voting seven to five for acquittal. A second trial against Hall ended in acquittal after Coakley fled the state, leaving the prosecution minus the prime witness.

Hall had been twice tried for the 1891 abortion death of Ida Shaddock. The first trial ended in a hung jury and the second, three years later and after several key witnesses had moved away or died, resulted in acquittal.