Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Scanty Info from Chicago, 1929

On October 12, 1929, 33-year-old homemaker Agnes Johnson, a native of Tours, France, underwent a criminal abortion at office of Dr. Joseph Stern, 433 E. 119th St. in Chicago. On October 26, Agnes died.

Stern was arrested that day. On November 1, he was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury. Agnes's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Midwife's Work in Chicago, 1922

On October 25, 1922, 24-year-old homemaker Lillian Hulbert died at Chicago's St. Anne's Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed on her there that day. The coroner identified a Mrs. M.C. Anderson as responsible for Lillian's death. Anderson's profession is given as nurse or midwife.

Abortion rights groups will blame the deaths of women like Lillian on the legal status of abortion at the time. Seeking out a midwife, ad Lillian did, rather than a doctor, wasn't because of abortion's illegality but because women of that era often went to midwives rather than doctors for all of their obstetric and gynecological issues.

StealCredit.jpgAbortion-rights activists also forget that all surgery, including induced abortion, was riskier in the pre-legalization days. As the 20th century progressed, all maternal mortality, including abortion mortality, fell as medical care improved. Antibiotics and blood transfusions -- along with overall better health due to increasing prosperity -- deserve the credit for falling mortality, which was hardly caused retroactively by the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling striking down all the nation's abortion laws.

No doubt there was quackery prior to legalization -- but such quackery persists today. Removing the threat of jail for any but the most egregious behavior does not provide motivation to run a tight ship. Three erstwhile criminal abortionists that I know of -- Benjamin Munson, Milan Vuitch, and Jesse Ketchum -- didn't lose a single abortion patient until after legalization made them less fearful of repercussions and thus far more careless. Each went on to kill two legal abortion patients, not out of simple surgical complications, but due to appalling quackery.

It's time we got real about how little is different between illegal and legal abortion practice: the main difference is how much risk of being shut down or sent to prison the safe-and-legal abortionist faces.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

1915: A New York Doctor Leaves Two Kids Motherless

Margaret Buetelman died in New York's St. Vincent's hospital on October 22, 1914. She had been admitted suffering complications of an illegal abortion perpetrated on the 20th in the office of Dr. F. Waldo Whitney.

Whitney, age 61, was convicted of manslaughter in her death. He was sentenced to 2 - 19 1/2 years at Sing Sing.

While he was in prison, Whitney was sued by Margaret's husband, John, on behalf of himself and the couple's two children.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What a Post-Viability Abortion Practitioner Has to Say

An interview with one of the four abortion do ctors in America who opendly do post-viability abortions. Regarding some of her late-abortion patients:

Well, a large percentage of our patients had no idea that they were pregnant. People go, “How could this possibly be?” Well, look at that reality show. It happens. .... They have no idea they’re in their 24th week. So they make an appointment for an abortion, and it takes a few weeks, and they have their ultrasound and find out that they’re at 27 weeks, which is too far for an abortion anywhere. So then what happens? They either give up or have a baby, or they go on the Internet and they find us.

When asked where she draws the line on aborting health fetuses, she says,

It’s hard. Essentially I have to say to myself, “Is this a very compelling story?” ....How do we draw these lines? What is the ethical difference between doing an abortion at 29 and 32 weeks? Is there a meaningful ethical difference? Can I justify it? Will I have to justify it, and to whom? .... For example... I had a patient from France and she just desperately did not want to be pregnant — but she was 35 weeks, and gestational age is plus or minus three weeks, so she could’ve been at 38 weeks, and that’s just too far along. It wouldn’t be safe.

Facting Checking Trump's Claim

In the wake of Donald Trump's comments in the most recent debate, the abortion lobby, as well as mainstream media outlets, have been putting forth the unsubstantiated claim that late abortions are done only for serious maternal or fetal indications.

The most recent information we have about why later abortions are done are comments by Ron Fitzsimmons of the National Coalion of Abortion Providers back during the original "partial birth abortion" brouhaha and some contemporary research done by journalists who actually believe in fact checking instead of just passing along abortion-lobby "fact sheets." Those journalists found Fitzimmons's comments to be factual. According to the New York Times:
Mr. Fitzsimmons recalled the night in November 1995, when he appeared on ''Nightline'' on ABC and ''lied through my teeth'' when he said the procedure was used rarely and only on women whose lives were in danger or whose fetuses were damaged.
In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along, Mr. Fitzsimmons said. ''The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else,'' he said in the article in the Medical News, an American Medical Association publication.
The reason we don't have more recent data is that the people able to collect it don't publish it. If any journalist wanted to fact check, as they did in 1997, we'd have more recent information. Does't it seem odd to you that, with all of the current debate on 20 week abortion bans, that the abortion lobby and the mainstream media only put out two kinds of information:

1. Anecdotes
2. Survey results lumping in post-viability abortions and post-20 week abortions with those taking place between sixteen and 19 weeks

Shouldn't they, if they wanted to be honest, be sharing recent data that's specific to the topic at hand?

What about what abortion providers themselves say that they do? At Abortion Clinics Onine, over two dozen abortion facilities advertise late abortions, including "outpatient elective abortions through 26 weeks," abortions to 28+ weeks," and "elective abortions to 27 weeks." Why would they adversise something they don't actually do?

Now, let's provide some anecdotes that contradict the abortion-rights narrative:

Emily Klett Here are some examples of ELECTIVE late abortions. The abortion lobby isn't the only people with anecdotes to offer.

Jamie Lee Morales died this year from complications of an elective 23-week abortion.

Sherika Mayo died of complications of a 25-week elective abortion in 2008.

Tamiia Ruseell died in 2004 from an elective abortion performed when she was at least six months pregnant:.

The elective abortion of Baby Boy A was started not in Gosnell's seedy Philadelphia mill but in a higly reputable National Abortion Federation clinic in Delaware.

The claim that late abortions are only done for severe indications is not only unsubstantiated, but is contradicted by a plethora of evidence.

Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers. Can You Really Do an Abortion Up To Birth in America?

Is Donald Trump right? Can you really perform an abortion in ths United Sates right up until the point of birth? Unlike the "fact checkers" which just go to their respecitive lobbying groups and reiterate talking points, I'll actually, you know, fact check.

I'll start with this excellent summary, Abortion Law in the United States: An Overview:

In a nutshell:

1. Roe vs. Wade, the most famous abortion case, allowed no "restrictions" on abortion in the first two trimesters. For the third trimester, the states were allowed to make some restrictions -- as long as they allowed abortions for "health" reasons. The companion decision, Doe vs. Bolton, then defined health so broadly that really, anything could suffice:
[M]edical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.
I must point out at this point that prior to Roe and Doe, there was no such thing as a third trimester abortion. Abortion was, by definition, killing the fetus prior to viability. So post-viability abortions were not only invented but enshrined as a supposed Constitutional right.

And unless you define "health" so broadly as to include family concerns (which no doubt would include financial considerations), the whole idea of a post-viability "health" abortion is nonsensical on its face. If a pregnancy is endangering the mother's life or health, the standard of care has been to induce labor or perform a c-section, based on the woman's particular needs. With a c-section, the baby can be out of the womb and in the NICU within the hour, the pregnancy is over, and the mother can be cared for by medical professionals. It's nonsensical to say that it would preserve her "health" or her life to take additional steps to ensure that the fetus emerges dead.

The only logical reason to perform a post-viability abortion -- to stop during delivery to kill the baby -- is to achieve the death of the fetus, either for social reasons or because the baby has a disability of some sort.

Again, a "health" justification for a post-viability abortion is nonsensical, but because of Roe and Doe, the states must include them in order to pass Constitutional muster. Occasionally you'll see an old pre-Roe law still on the books that 's not enjoined, either because there are no abortionists in that state who want to perform late abortions, or because the law isn't being enforced so there's no point in going to court over it.

2. As the summary notes, after the Webster decidion in 1989 and the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision in 1992, the Supreme Court allowed states to put some regulations (such as waiting periods or informed consent) into place, and allowed the states to be a bit firmer about exactly what constituted "health". Still, no state can actually ban third trimester abortions, because if this "health" requirement in Doe.

3. So now we have a hodge-podge. The Alan Guttmacher Insitute (AGI), an abortion-rights research and lobbying group, summarizes state policies on abortion late in pregnancy. Another abortion-rights source, The Diane Rehm Show, created a map based on the AGI summary breaking the laws down into when different states restrict late abortions, but doesn't include exceptiions.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-advocacy organization co-founded by Bernard Nathanson (who later repented) and Larry Lader (who remained proud of his abortion activities up to his death), used to provide state-by-state informoation in great detail but now just provide a vague summary:
13 states ban abortion after 20 weeks without an adequate health exception: AL, AZ*, AR, GA, ID, IN, KS, LA, MS, NE, ND, OK, TX.1 state has an unconstitutional and unenforceable ban on abortion after 12 weeks without an adequate health exception: AR.
Sample post-viability abortion restrictions from 2010, back when NARAL actually provided them, were as follows (verbatim from NARAL). Notice that if the state just has a "health" exception to their "restriction", then it is the Doe definition of health, which could be anything the woman or doctor wants it to be.

  • Florida: 'Florida's post-viability restriction states that no abortion may be provided in the third trimester unless two physicians certify in writing that it is necessary to preserve the woman's life or health.  If an abortion is provided during viability, the physician must "use that degree of professional skill, care, and diligence" most likely to preserve the life and health of the fetus except that "the woman's life and health shall constitute an overriding and superior consideration to the concern for the life and health of a fetus when such concerns are in conflict."'
  • Kansas: 'Kansas' post-viability abortion restriction states that no abortion may be provided after viability unless the attending physician and another financially and legally independent physician determine that an abortion is necessary to preserve the woman's life or continuation of the pregnancy would cause a "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" of the woman.  Kan. Stat. Ann. § 65-6703(a) (Enacted 1992; Last Amended 1998).  The Kansas attorney general has interpreted this exception to include mental health. Op. Kan. Att'y. Gen. 2000-020.
    In addition, Kansas bans the provision of certain post-viability procedures (not including the suction curettage procedure, suction aspiration procedure, and certain dilation and evacuation procedures).  Kan. Stat. Ann. § 65-6721 (Enacted 1998).  This ban states that performance of certain post-viability procedures is a felony, unless the physician and another legally and financially independent physician determine that the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman's life or that continuation of the pregnancy would cause a "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major physical or mental function" of the woman.'
  • Maine: 'Maine's post-viability abortion restriction states that no abortion may be provided after viability unless necessary to preserve the woman's life or health.'
  • New Hampshire: NARAL notes no restrictions on post-viability abortion.
  • Rhode Island: 'Rhode Island's post-viability abortion restriction states that no abortion may be performed on a "quick child," defined as "an unborn child whose heart is beating, who is experiencing electronically measurable brainwaves, who is discernibly moving, and who is so far developed and matured as to be capable of surviving the trauma of birth with the aid of usual medical care and facilities," unless necessary to preserve the woman's life.'
  • Wisconsin: No abortion may be provided after viability unless necessary to preserve the woman's life or health.  The physician must use the available method most likely to preserve the life and health of the fetus unless it would increase the risk to the woman.

    In closing, the following states have no late abortion restrictions whatsoever:
    1. Alaska
    2. Colorado
    3. New Hampshire
    4. New Jersey
    5. New Mexico
    6. Oregon
    7. Vermont
    8. West Virginia
    Others draw the line at some gestational age, but allowing excpetions for life and physical health (defined more or less broadly on a state-by-state basis), or for life and physical or mental health (defined more or less broadly on a state-by-state basis). 

  • The following allow late abortions only to preserve the life of the mother:
    1. Idaho
    2. Michigan
    3. Rhode Island
    So in eight states, a woman can legally decide at any point in pregnancy, up until birth, that she wants an abortion, and any doctor who chooses to perform it may, legally. In three states her life must be in danger in order to perform a late abortion, and in the remaining 39 states there must be a documented physical or mental health issue before the abortion may proceed.

    Thus, Trump was right, but left out a lot of detail.

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    Thursday, October 20, 2016

    One of Many Victims of New York's Abortion Law

    Carole and the New York Abortion Law, 1971

    Carole Schaner was 37 years old when she traveled from Ohio to Buffalo, New York, for a safe and legal abortion. to be performed by Dr, Jesse Ketchum. She had been referred by a local abortion advocacy organization, West Shore Center. Carole was divorced and caring for her four children.

    Black and white headshot of a middle-aged white man with brushed-back dark hair
    Dr. Jesse Ketchum
    Ketchum was a former criminal abortionist from Ypsilanti, Michigan who had relocated to New York specifically to open an abortion practice. He had allowed another abortion patient, Margaret Smith, to bleed to death in his office from a hysterotomy abortion just four months earlier. A hysterotomy was like a c-section, but with the intention of allowing the fetus to die of prematurity.

    Ketchum performed a vaginal hysterotomy on Carole on October 20, 1971. She was 14 weeks pregnant.

    After the abortion, Carole went into shock, and was taken to a hospital. She was in shock when she arrived. Despite all efforts, Carole died before doctors could even fully assess the extent of her injuries. She left behind four children.

    The autopsy found that Carole's cervix and uterus had been cut open, and an artery outside her uterus had been cut. It also noted sutures that had evidently been put in by Ketchum in an attempt to repair the damage. The sutures, however, completely closed Carole's cervix, allowing her to continue bleeding from the injured uterus and artery.

    Carole was the second woman to bleed to death after an outpatient hystertomy abortion performed by Ketchum; Margaret Smith had died four months earlier.

    Another former criminal abortionist, Milan Vuitch, also had kept his nose clean as a criminal abortionist, then went on to kill two legal abortion patients. Wilma Harris and Georgianna English both died under Vuitch's care. Benjamin Munson, likewise, had a clean record in his criminal abortionist then went on to kill two women in his supposedly safer legal practice -- Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth.

    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 Margaret and Carole, 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:

    A Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1921

    On October 20, 1921, 30-year-old Annie Sczepkowski died at Jefferson Park Hospital in Chicago from complications of an abortion perpetrated by an unknown suspect. Tillie Pawlowski was arrested, but exonerated by the Coroner.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2016

    Nasty in New York and Three Other Abortion Deaths

    One of Many Hachamovitch's Dead, New York, 1990

    Nineteen-year-old Christina Goesswein ("Patient A" in medical board documents) was almost 23 weeks pregnant when she went to the office of Dr. Hachamovitch on October 17, 1990. The first part of the three-day abortion procedure was started that day. She was sent home and told to return the following day to have her cervix dilated even further for the abortion, which would take place on the 19th.

    She came back on the 18th and had more laminaria inserted then returned home. That evening, her boyfriend called the doctor's office because Christina was having cramping. He was told to give her pain medicine. Christina's boyfriend called again several hours later because he felt that she was running a fever, but Christina told Dr. Hachamovitch's employee who was taking call that evening that she was okay.

    Early in the morning of the 19th, the boyfriend called the employee again because Christina was experiencing heavy bleeding, cramping and vomiting. Christina stated that she felt that she was in labor. The employee instructed Christina to go to Hachamovitch's office where she and the doctor would meet her.

    They all met at the office some time between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. After arriving at there, Christina lost control of her bowels. Hachamovitch then delivered her 24-week fetus in one piece.

    Because Christina was not recovering as she should have, Dr. Hachamovitch decided to admit her to an area hospital, but before this could be done, Christina quit breathing and her heart stopped. Somebody called 911 at about 4:20 a.m., and Dr. Hachamovitch began CPR. Christina was taken to a Bronx hospital where she was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m. on October 19, due to an amniotic fluid embolism.

    Hachamovitch's license was suspended over his false documentation regarding administration of oxygen, and the Christina's blood loss. The medical board also found a plethora of faults in Hachamovitch's treatment of his patient.

    Christina wasn't the only patient to lose her life due to Hachamovitch's unwillingness or inability to manage his practice. Two other patients, Tanya Williamson in 1996 and Luz Rodriguez in 1986, had died of malpractice under his care. Three patients died after abortions in clinics he owned and managed elsewhere -- Lisa Bardsley and Lou Ann Herron in Arizona and Jammie Garcia in Texas.

    A Naturopath in Texas, 1954

    Sylvia Redman, who had a license to practice naturopathy in Texas, signed a written confession on October 20, 1954 regarding the death of Betty Ledel the previous day. Redman' confession said that Betty came to her on October 8, saying that she thought she was pregnant. Betty asked her "if I could help her get rid of the baby. I told her the danger of everything and she said she was not afraid. I told her I would rather her to go somewhere else and have the baby stopped in twenty four hours, because my work is slow. I do it by shooting a little air up into the womb. (uterus) By going through the cervix into the uterus, where the embryo is carried. She told me she wanted me to do it." Redman complied, repeating the process daily. 

    On October 19, Betty again went to Redman, who took her upstairs, "laid her on a table used for females," and inserted a canula into Betty's uterus. She pushed five syringes full of air into Betty's uterus and asked Betty if she could feel it. Betty said that she could, a little. "And she looked up at me and said I feel choky, and then she passed out." Ladel also noticed that Betty was bleeding vaginally.

    Redman said, "I used artificial respiration. I picked her up in my arms and laid her on the floor. And I slung water at her to try to revive her, and then I had a lady downstairs to call an ambulance. The ambulance came and got her and took her to Harris Hospital.

    Redman threw away the instruments but police quickly found them and got a confession. An autopsy verified that Betty had indeed been pregnant, and blamed her death on the introduction of air into her uterus to produce abortion. The six or seven week old embryo was intact and undamaged. Betty's blood vessels had air in them, and she had died from an air embolism.

    Redman was convicted of murder by attempted abortion, and was sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary for four years.

    Two Chicago Deaths in the Early 20th Century

    Russian immigrant Anna Kelson, age 20, died at her Chicago home on North Talman Avenue on October 19, 1918. Dr. Virginia Johnson, who had been called in to care for Anna, supposedly for influenzal pneumonia. She found a nurse attending to Anna but did not get the nurse's name. Dr. Johnson determined that Anna had died from an abortion and reported the death to the police.

    Pelagia Usoraki, age 32, died on October 19, 1910 in a Chicago residence after an abortion perpetrated in Chicago by  Rosalie Tomajoski on October 13. Tamojosky, who was indicted by a grand jury for murder in Pelagia's death, is identified in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database as an "abortion provider."

    Sunday, October 16, 2016

    Doubly Deadly Docs and Other Abortion Tragedies

    Safe and Legal in Los Angeles County, 1974

    Maria Lira was a college student when she went to Riveria Hospital in Los Angeles on October 14, 1974, to undergo an abortion. After she'd been discharged, Maria had problems and returned. Staff performed a D&C, then discharged her again. That night, she went to the emergency room due to excessive bleeding.

    She was sent to Torrance Memorial Hospital for treatment, where she died on October 16. The autopsy found a decomposing fetus in her uterus, which had caused infection and DIC (disseminated intravacsular coagulopathy), which prevented clotting, causing the hemorrhage that killed Maria.

    A Twice-Deadly Doctor in Seattle, 1954

    Martha Alit, age 40, died October 16, 1954 after an abortion perpetrated in Seattle by Dr. James Unosawa.  Born in Juneau, Alaska, Martha had lived in Seattle for twenty years with her Filipino husband and was already the mother of nine children. Her husband, Felicisimo, was away on Coast Guard duty when she sought the services of Unosawa, an osteopath known to perform abortions. She died in his office. Unosawa had served time in prison after an earlier fatal abortion in 1946. He was convicted again of manslaughter in the death of Martha Alit, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision two years later, holding that the prosecution had not disproved his claim that he was trying to save her life. He would be arrested for a third time in 1963, after another patient required emergency hospitalization. Convicted, he was granted probation after agreeing to stop practicing medicine. Unosawa's previous victim was identified as Beulah LeClair, who had died in 1946.

    A Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1923

    On October 2, 1923, 16-year-old homemaker Loretta Schranz underwent a criminal abortion somewhere in Chicago. On October 16, she died at Chicago Hospital from complications of that abortion.

    Ethel Davis and Lena Rumenstein were held by the coroner in Loretta's death. Their professions were not listed on my source document. Davis was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder on November 15.
     A Doubly Deadly Doctor in Chicago, 1923

    On October 16, 1923, 19-year-old Lydia Nelson died at Chicago's Englewood Hospital from an abortion performed there that day, evidently by Dr. Charles Klinetop. On January 15, 1924, Klinetop was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Lydia's death. Back in 1912, he had been identified by a coroner's jury as the doctor responsible for the abortion death of Minnie Miller.

    Self-Induced in Quincy, Illinois, 1922

    On September 20, 1922, Dr. E. L. Caddick, a staff surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital in Quincy, Illinois, was called in to perform an emergency appendectomy on 18-year-old Corrine Comstock of Palmyra. During the surgery, he noticed "the condition of the patient" -- though whether this was alluding to her pregnancy or post-abortion complications is unclear.

    After the surgery, Caddick spoke to Corrine, who admitted that she had attempted an abortion.

    Her condition deteriorated for nearly a month until Corrine's death the night of Monday, October 16. An inquest was held the following night at White Funeral Home and found her cause of death to be blood poisoning brought on by the attempted abortion.

    Investigators found that Corrine had been "keeping steady company" with a married man who lived near her in Palmyra. It had been common knowledge that he had been planning to divorce his wife.

    Corrine's mother, Mrs. Mina Nixon, said that Corrine had first taken ill the Monday after a September 16 visit to the Palmyra Fair.