Monday, April 24, 2017

Doctors, a Midwife, and "Uncle Billy"

Oklahoma, 1937: A Midwife's Fatal Handiwork

A glamorous headshot of a beautiful young woman with short, dark hair looking over her shoulder into the camera with her large, wide-set eyes
Merl Williams
On April 24, 1937, Merl Williams of Watonga, Oklahoma, died of peritonitis. She was 21 years old, a worker in a poultry packing plant. Her death was attributed to a botched abortion.

A midwife, 57-year-old. Cordelia Moore, was charged with abortion murder. An investigation found evidence that Moore, formerly a registered nurse, had perpetrated hundreds of abortions in her home in Longdale, Oklahoma.

After her arrest, Moore "unworriedly set her glasses on the end of her nose and continued her quilting in the county jail." Her husband, John, actually got up in his cell and jigged when a jaunty tune came on the radio.

W. C. Mouse, a railroad engineer, testified that he had taken Merl to Moore's 3-room farm house on April 11, not knowing the reason for the visit. He said only that he had heard Merl ask Moore, "Will it be dangerous?" The state also gathered 14 additional witnesses in the case against Moore, including women swearing under oath that Moore had done abortions on them. The prosecutors were also investigating the possible abortion death of a married woman a few years previously.

Cordelia Moore was tried for the crime; her husband, John, was arrested but released. I have been unable to determine that outcome of any trial in Merl's death.


Oklahoma City, 1932: Two Docs' Deadly Spree

Poor qualilty profile shot of a middle-aged white man with eyeglasses.
Dr. J. W. Eisiminger
Virginia Lee Wyckoff, a University of Oklahoma student, age 21, died from complications of an abortion on April 24, 1932 Hers was one of a string of deaths in the city that year. Dr. J.W. Eisiminger, an osteopath, was tried and convicted of murder in Virginia's death. He admitted to having treated her in his office on April 3, but said that he didn't believe she was pregnant. Nevertheless, Virginia spent several days in a private home where Eisiminger kept recovering abortion patients under the care of Mrs. Luther Bryant Price. Dr. Richard Thacker, who had an abortion patient of his own die on April 24, 1932, also used Mrs. Price's home as a recovery center for his abortion patients.

Virginia was transferred from Mrs. Prices's home to Oklahoma City General Hospital, where she died of septicemia, first having told doctors there that Eisiminger had performed the fatal abortion.. A deathbed statement absolving Eisiminger was proven to be a forgery.

Eisiminger was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder in her abortion death. The sentence was later reduced to 15 years.
A white man of about 60 years of age, with a very high forehead, large nose, and grim facial expression
Dr. Richard Thacker
Thacker's trial for the April 15, 1932 abortion death of Ruth Hall brought out testimony concerning the death April 24 death of 25-year-old Lennis May Roach and of other patients, including Robbie Lou Thompson, and Nancy Lee.

Mrs. Roach had come to Thacker's office several times, he admitted. Thacker said that she had been in poor health and emaciated, and had a white discharge, indicative of infection, from her vagina. She also, Thacker said, had pains in her abdomen. Thacker said that he treated her with a tonic and with antiseptic tampons.

He adamantly denied that he had performed an abortion on her. However, other witnesses, including Mrs. Roach's husband, testified that Thacker had indeed performed an abortion on Mrs. Roach, causing her death. Thacker was only prosecuted for Ruth Hall's death and was sentenced to life in prison. This is probably why he wasn't prosecuted for any of the other deaths. He died in prison in 1937.


Chicago, 1920: An Unidentified Perpetrator

On April 24, 1920, Emma Shanahan died at Chicago's St. Anthony Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by a person who was not identified. Most abortionists in Chicago in that era were doctors or midwives, which makes it likely that Emma availed herself of one of these trained medical professionals.


 Hannibal, Illinois, 1893: Racist Coverage of an Abortion Death

An article on the death of 19-year-old Emma Hub underscores the racism of the time. It begins, "Uncle Billy Nickens, a well-known colored character of Hannibal [Illinois], was arrested there yesterday charged with causing the death of Emmy Hub by a criminal operation."

Emma was the daughter of Jacob Hub, a German shoemaker living just south of the Hannibal city limits. Jacob had expelled his daughter from the house due to "her wild habits", so she had moved in with a painter named Mathew Seoville.  Around April 15 of 1893, Emma took ill, and was tended by a Dr. Ebbits. Ebbits suspected an abortion and refused to treat Emma until she admitted to it. "She continued to grow worse until death relieved her suffering at 1 a.m. yesterday" -- that being April 24.

Emma had told Mathew Seoville and his wife that she had gone to Nickens' house, where he had used instruments on her to cause an abortion. She said that a girl from Illinois was also there for an abortion. Mathew had pressed Emma to write up a declaration.

The fatal abortion was reportedly Emma's second; the previous had been performed the previous October. She also had given birth to a child about two years earlier.  The article notes that Nickens was arrested, adding, "The negro has been brought up on similar charges before, but always managed to clear himself."

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chicago Doctors and Midwives, 1910-1923

Many physicians and midwives plied their trade as abortionists in early 20th century Chicago.

On April 22, 1923, 30-year-old Daisy Singerland died at Chicago's Robert Burns Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed earlier that day.  On June 1, 54-year-old Dr. James W. Lipscomb was indicted for felony murder in Daisy's death. I have been unable to determine the final outcome of the case.

On February 19, 1920, one of those midwives, 40-year-old Mary Simkus, evidently perpetrated an abortion on 28-year-old homemaker Sophia Krawczyk in the Krawczyk home.  After the abortion, Sophie took ill. Eventually she was taken to Cook County Hospital, where she died from sepsis on April 22.  Simka was indicted for Sophie's death, but for reasons I have been unable to determine the case never went to trial.

"Phyllis," identified in the source document as "Mrs. M.," was 46 years old when she had an abortion performed by a physician in Chicago on or around April 4, 1910.  The abortion was followed by pain, fever, and hemorrhage. On April 18, about two weeks after the abortion, she was admitted to Cook County Hospital with a pulse of 102, respirations of 24, and fever of 102. She was in a stupor upon admission, with her tongue dry and furred. Her abdomen was distended and tender. Her liver was enlarged. The lower lobe of her right lung had sounds indicating the presence of fluid.  That evening, Phyllis became delirious and had to be restrained to her bed. Staff were unable to record a pulse for her, but her temperature had risen to 102.4 and her respirations were a racing 50 per minute.  Phyllis died on April 22 from peritonitis and septic pneumonia.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pro-Choice Icon's Forgotton Victim

1970s photo of a 30-something white man in a classroom, wearing a white turtlenedk under a dark, double-breasted jacket and holding what looks like some sort of plastic medical instruments
Self-styled "Doctor" Harvey Karman
Nearly two decades before the "Mothers Day Massacre" pulled off with Kermit "House of Horrors" Gosnell in Philadelphia, 30-year-old Harvey Karman was working at the Clinical School of the Psychology Department of the University of California at Los Angeles, seeking a doctorate in psychology. He was not licensed to practice medicine.

The Abortion

Around early February of 1955, 26-year-old Joyce Johnson told her husband, Ben, that she was pregnant. They discussed an abortion. Somehow, the couple found out about Harvey's passion for abortion, and arranged for him to practice his hobby on Joyce. His fee was $150.

On April 6, 1955, Karman met Joyce in a motel room and, using a speculum, inserted a nutcracker into Joyce in order to perform an abortion. On April 8, Joyce's husband took her to St. Joseph's Hospital. She was examined by a Dr. Moss who diagnosed her as suffering from "an infected criminal abortion." The dead fetus was still in her uterus. She expelled it while at St. Joseph's.

On April 13, Joyce was transferred to General Hospital for specialized treatment. She died there on April 21. An autopsy was performed, and Joyce's death blamed on bronchial pneumonia brought on by the septic abortion.

Karman was arrested.

The Trial

During the trial, a photograph of the autopsy was available, but the district attorney didn't display it. He instead told the jury, "you can look at it up in the jury room if you are so inclined--it's an autopsy picture--I'm not going to show it to you because some people don't like to see things like that--she was 26 years old April 6th. She was a girl in good health. She was pregnant. She wanted to do something about having an abortion for this pregnancy."

The district attorney also told the jury, "Frankly, I don't know how you feel about this matter of abortion--it is a matter of difference of opinion. Some people say well, people can't afford it, it's all right to have an abortion. Some people say if the woman's health won't stand it it's all right to have an abortion. Our law says it's all right to have an abortion if her health is of such nature she can't have a baby. Some people think abortions are all right. Some people are absolutely against all of them. If you want to know the truth, I'm pretty much against all abortions myself, I think it's a terrible thing for a girl to be talked into this."

Harvey was convicted.

The Appeal

The appeals court found it "improper for the district attorney to express his personal belief as to all abortion," but noted that since the jury was admonished to ignore the comment Karman had no grounds for appeal in the fact that the DA made the comment.

Karman's defense called a Dr. Gilbert as an expert. He reviewed the autopsy report and medical records, an opined that Joyce did not die from a septic abortion. He was paid $150 for his testimony, ironically the same amount Joyce paid for the abortion.

The defense also appealed on the grounds that the the DA unduly prejudiced the jury by bringing out in cross-examining Karman that he'd been convicted previously of a felony. The appeals court ruled that this was proper impeachment of a witness.

Karman's defense further argued that Joyce's husband and friend were improperly granted immunity after they originally refused to testify.

Karman's defense also claimed that the prosecution failed to prove that the abortion wasn't necessary to save Joyce's life. But the appeals court found that the testimony of Joyce's husband and friend that Joyce had been in good health settled that matter. Of course, pure logic would prove that matter, since Joyce was seeking an illegal abortion from an amateur in a motel room. Had her life been in danger, an ob/gyn would have been able to admit her to a hospital and perform the abortion there.

An appeals court found that the district attorney's statement that what defendant did was "absolute butchery" was fair argument on the facts, and not an unduly prejudicious statement. It came out in the case that Joyce's husband was dating another woman and therefore had an interest in Joyce securing an abortion.

The Pardon

Though Karman had finished serving his sentence before Jerry Brown was sworn in as California Governor in 1975, Brown was enamored enough of Karman's work to issue him a pardon.

Joyce's abortion was unusual in that it was performed by an amateur, rather than by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions. However, it also stands out because Harvey Karman was treated like a real doctor by the abortion establishment. He was invited to train abortionists, and was celebrated by abortion advocates for having invented a suction cannula designed specifically for early abortions. Despite being an amateur, and despite the death of Johce Johnson and the fiasco in Philadelphia, on his death Karman was eulogized .as a champion of safe abortions.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Doctors and a Pharmacy Clerk

One of Three Deaths at Chicago Abortion Mill

A middle-aged white man wearing large eyeglasses
Dr. Dusan Zivkovic
Brenda Benton's survivors sued Biogenetics after her death, claiming that Dusan Zivkovic and/or V. Perez had performed a safe and legal abortion on her on March 13, 1987. She was placed under general anesthesia for the abortion. After she was discharged, Brenda developed fever, chills, and back pain.

The suit says that 35-year-old Brenda returned to Biogenetics to report these symptoms on March 27, and that Zivkovic examined Brenda and performed a D&C before transferring her to Martha Washington Hospital. There, Brenda's survivors say, Zivkovic called in other doctors for a consult. They then transferred Brenda to Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's hospital on April 6. She died there on April 20.

Her death was due to infection and "overwhelming septicemia." Brenda's family said that Zivkovic failed to failed to determine that Brenda had had an adverse reaction to drugs he'd given her, and failed to detect and respond to her medical emergency. An expert opinion on the case attributes Brenda's death to inappropriate follow-up, and septicemia leading to fatal complications. Brenda's death certificate attributed death to hepatic necrosis due to toxicity reaction to abortion anesthesia.

"Susanna Chisolm" (1975) and Synthia Dennard (1989) also died after abortions at Biogenetics.


Dillinger's Doc Does Fatal Abortion

Poor-quality newspaper photograph of a mostly bald, middle-aged white man, in profile
Dr. Clinton E. May
Dr. Clinton E. May had crossed paths with the law when he harbored John Dillinger. In an apparent attempt to keep a low profile, he relocated to California after his release and didn't bother to get licensed to practice medicine, but rather set up housekeeping, and an abortion practice, with a woman in San Francisco using the aliases Cy Dalton and Miss Ralston,

On April 12, 1939, a woman called St. Joseph's Hospital and anonymously told a doctor there that a woman had suffered uterine damage in an abortion. The doctor said to send the woman to the hospital immediately.

The woman, 30-year-old Doris Alexander, arrived at the hospital in a taxi. She was in critical condition. There, she told hospital staff, her husband, and the police about the abortion. Based on the information Doris had provided, police raided Clinton May's apartment the following day, finding a makeshift operating table, abundant surgical instruments typically used in abortions, and parts of a human fetus of about three or four months of gestation that was not Doris' fetus.

May was arrested and taken to the hospital, where Doris tentatively identified him. She never mentioned a woman being involved in the abortion. Doris died on April 20, and police arrested a woman named Frances Zoffel, whom they said was the mysterious "Miss Ralston."

May and Zoffel were charged with murder and conspiracy. May was convicted of second-degree murder, Zoffel of conspiracy. Zoffel was able to get a new trial on the grounds that she was not "Miss Ralston" and that there was no evidence linking her to May's practice, although she had been implicated in abortion rings in the past and would be implicated again in the future.


A Doctor When the Pills Didn't Work

In Seattle, Washington in February of 1933, Mary Agnes McNeil, a 22-year-old unmarried grocery store clerk, discovered that she was pregnant. Mary informed her boyfriend of the pregnancy, and he got her some pills supposed to cause an abortion, but they didn't work. She tried another round of different pills in March.

On April 8, Mary went to a nursing home operated by a nurse to ask about an abortion. The nurse informed the woman and her lover that Dr. E. T. Martin or another doctor would be able to perform an abortion.

On April 11, Mary's boyfriend went to Dr. Martin's office and consulted with him. On Dr. Martin's instructions, Mary's boyfriend brought her back the next morning, a Wednesday, for an examination. Mary was in Dr. Martin's office for about half an hour. Dr. Martin then told Mary's boyfriend that the total fee, including a stay at the nursing home until Saturday night, would be $75. He then instructed the boyfriend to take Mary to the nursing home, which he did that afternoon.

On Friday the 14th, Dr. Martin performed a curettage on Mary to remove the fetus. The nurse claimed that she had no idea what Dr. Martin was planning to do.

After the D&C, Mary became alarmingly ill. Dr. Martin said that he himself was not in proper physical condition to care for the patient, so he summoned a Dr. Templeton. Dr. Templeton evidently cared for Mary at the nursing home until April 19, a Wednesday, when he advised staff to transfer Mary to Virginia Mason hospital. She died the following morning.

Dr. Martin, with some corroboration from the nurse, said that Mary already had a rapid pulse and fever when she first consulted with him. He also said that she was bleeding vaginally already. Dr. Martin said that Mary had told him she'd missed three periods, taken abortifacients, had fallen, and had a chronic bowel condition.

Dr. Martin testified that he'd recommended hospitalization, but that Mary wanted to avoid the possible publicity surrounding a hospitalization. It was then that he'd decided to send her to the nursing home instead. He also testified that she'd been bleeding from the 12th until the 14th, when he'd performed a curretage. He said that this curretage was necessary to treat her fever and bleeding.

Dr. Martin was convicted of manslaughter in Mary's death, but the nurse was acquitted.


A Pharmacy Clerk's Fatal Work

On April 20, 1912, 19-year-old actress and newlywed Ruth Fox died at her Chicago residence from septic peritonitis caused by an abortion perpetrated, possibly there and on that day, by Frank J. Schwartz, a pharmacy clerk. He was arrested and held by the Coroner on May 2, and indicted by a Grand Jury on November 25, but the case never went to trial. Dr. Samuel T. Baldridge was arrested but exonerated after testimony at the coroner's inquest. It is unclear why, with all the physicians and midwives running thinly-veiled ads for abortion practices, Ruth instead went to somebody who had only marginal training in a medical field.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Anniversary: Hachamovitch's Deadly Clinics

Lou Ann Herron
Those insist that legalization of abortion is necessary to keep our daughters safe might want to speak to Lou Ann Herron's father, Mike Gibb, who silently wept in the courtroom as he listened to witnesses describe how his 33-year-old daughter bled to death on April 17, 1998  after a late abortion at the now defunct A-Z Women's Center.

Seven Ultrasounds

Medical assistant Sylvia Aragon wept on the witness stand as she said that Lou Ann's pregnancy was "too far along" for an abortion. The ultrasound Aragon did on April 9 showed a 26-week fetus, but Dr. John Biskind kept ordering more and more ultrasound scans to try to get one that would document the pregnancy as being early enough for the abortion to be legal. A total of seven ultrasounds were done before an estimate of 23 weeks was obtained the day prior to the abortion. 

Lou Ann's Pleas

The abortion was performed at 1:30 p.m. Biskind, his lawyer said, noted a small amount of blood on the sheets when he checked on Lou Ann after the abortion, but that he was not concerned because bleeding is normal after an abortion. Two medical assistants, however, testified that Lou Ann was very frightened about her condition as she lay in recovery. She became combative and anxious. She reported that her legs were going numb. She cried out in pain as she lay in a puddle of blood, begging to know what was wrong with her. These, emergency physician John Gallagher noted, are all clear signs of severe blood loss. 

Gallagher, who trains paramedics for the Phoenix Fire Department, said that the records he reviewed clearly indicated that Lou Ann's condition was life threatening and that Biskind should have recognized the severity of her injuries. Her medical records clearly indicated serious trouble at 1:25 p.m., 16 minutes after Lou Ann had been taken to the recovery room. Gallagher said that had he been treating Lou Ann, he would have ordered more IV fluids and blood immediately, and summoned an ambulance to take her to a hospital where she could be treated in a properly equipped operating room.

Instead of recognizing the danger his patient was in, Gallagher noted, Biskind instead tried to calm Lou Ann and reassure her that she would be "just fine." He tinkered with her IV (complaining that there was no qualified nurse on staff to do this), and left the building at around 3:45 p.m..

Clinic administrator Carole Stuart-Schadoff had a staffer page Biskind 25 minutes later when Lou Ann's condition worsened. Biskind did not return to the clinic, but told staff to call 911. Prosecutors estimate that by the time paramedics were summoned, Lou Ann had lost 2 to 3 liters of blood.

What the Medics Found

When the rescue crew arrived, Phoenix fire captain Biran Tobin testified, Lou Ann appeared to be dead. Nobody at the clinic seemed aware of how grave her condition was, he said, and nobody seemed to be helping her in any way. The only thing that anybody had done for her was put on an oxygen mask. 

Evidently somebody had removed Lou Ann's IV, because there wasn't one in place to allow life-saving medications to be administered. Nobody had put in an endotracheal tube and started "bagging" her to ensure that her body was getting enough oxygen to sustain life. "I very quickly felt that there wasn't a lot of competent medical care going on at the time," Tobin said.

Staff told rescuers that Lou Ann's vital signs were pulse 100, and blood pressure 90/50. "It was very difficult for me to believe that they could get the vital signs of a woman who, even as we walked in the door, looked really dead," Tobin testified.

Lou Ann was pronounced dead a the hospital.

Biskind Held Accountable

John Biskind
Biskind surrendered his license to practice medicine in Arizona after Lou Ann's death in order to stop an ongoing medical board investigation of the circumstances and his handling of the case. However, this was not enough to stop the police investigation. Both Biskind and the clinic's administrator, Carol Stuard-Schadoff, were charged with homicide.  A jury of seven women and one man immediately agreed that the defendants were guilty. It was simply a matter of deciding which charges they were guilty of: the manslaughter charge, or the lesser charge of negligent homicide. It took them 4 1/2 hours to conclude that Biskind was guilty of manslaughter, Stuart-Schadoff of negligent homicide.

Only after the trial was over did members of the jury learn of Biskind's history of misconduct, including the previous death of abortion patient Lisa Bardsley. The jury foreman said that this information "makes me feel better about my decision."

One guilty party, however, was not held accountable: The clinic's owner, Moshe Hachamovitch. Hachamovitch himself performed fatal abortions on Tanya WilliamsonLuz Rodriguez, and Christina GoessweinJammie Garcia died after a safe and legal abortion at Hachamovitch's Texas facility. That's a total of six dead patients either at his hands or under his supervision.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

What Were They Hiding About Cree Erwin's Death?

Mega-kudos to the folks at Operation Rescue for the amazing research they've been doing into the death of Cree Erwin-Sheppard last Independence Day Weekend. Finally we are able to compare the redacted autopsy report originally provided by the Medical Examiner's office with the original, unredacted copy.

Let's look at exactly what they chose to remove.

On the cover page, under "Cause of Death," the redaction suddenly begins in the middle of the sentence.

The words redacted were "and uterine perforation status post early vacuum aspiration and intrauterine contraception placement." Thus, the procedure performed at the Planned Parenthood was blacked out.

Even more telling is what they did't redact: "Complications of intrauterine pregnancy, including pulmonayr emboli related to uterine vein thrombosis." In other words, findings that could blame Cree's death on pregnancy were left visible. Only the words that make it clear that this pregnancy had been tampered with are blocked out.

Moving on to the "Investigative Summary."

The first and second redactions are bewildering to me.

The first redaction is Cree's obstetric history, "G2P1." This is an abbreviation for "Gravida 2 Para 1," or "Pregnant Twice, Given Birth Once."

Since Cree had already aborted this pregnancy, her obstetric history should have been G2P1A1 (Gravida 2 Para 1 Abortus 1). Omitting the A1 would imply that Cree had been pregnant, rather than post-abortive, at the time of her death.

The second redaction is "There is a past medical history of pregnancy induced hypertension with a previous pregnancy." That information, coupled with giving Cree's obstetric history as "G2P1," could be used to imply that Cree had died during her second pregnancy due to pregnancy-related hypertension.

The final information redacted from this paragraph is: "There was reported history of a recent early vacuum aspiration and uterine contraception placement on 06/30/2016. On July 2, 2016 Cree presented to the emergency department with persistent pelvic pain and new-onset nausa and vomiting, and was discharged with instructions for outpatient follow-up." Thus, the fact that Cree had undergone an abortion is hidden.

The next redaction is in the section describing the internal examination of the chest and abdomen.

The words "Approximately 250 cc of blood are in the retrouterine pouch," are blacked out. In other words, the Medical Examiner's office didn't want anybody to know that there was over 8 ounces of blood in the area behind Cree's uterus.

This is another piece of evidence that officials were deliberately hiding the fact that Cree had suffered a fatal abortion injury.

Moving along to the specific description of Cree's internal reproductive organs.

Right after the words, "The endrmetrial cavity is of normal postpartum configuration," they redacted "and is occupied by clotted blood. An intrauterine contraceptive device embedded within the clot material is identified."

So the fact that the inside of Cree's uterus was normal didn't warrant redaction, but the fact that her uterus was full of clotted blood surrounding an IUD was deemed worthy of blacking out. Again, the fact that a procedure, rather than the pregnancy it self, caused Cree's death is being swept under the rug.

Another sentence is allowed to start unredacted: "The myometrium appears thickened." I'm not clear on why that was left in. The following is then blacked out: "consistent with the reported history of recent pregnancy. A 4.0 cm full-thickness perforation of the posterior lower uterine segment is identified."

So the fact that Cree's uterus was consistent with a reported recent pregnancy is allowed to stand, but the fact that she had a 1 1/5-inch full-thickness tear in the lower back area of her uterus was redacted. The injury is being covered up.

Moving along to the "Examination and Investigative Findings," once again we see that "Complications of intrauterine pregnancy" isn't blacked out. Information allowing Cree's death to be blamed on the pregnancy is conveniently provided.

What's blacked out is, once again, evidence that it wasn't the pregnancy itself that killed Cree Erwin. The hole in her uterus, and the fact that it is related to a recent vacuum aspiration (suction abortion) and recent IUD placement, are redacted. Thus, the fact that tampering with the pregnancy caused a fatal injury is hidden from public view.

The final redactions in the autopsy report seem like adding insult to injury.

The fact that Cree's urine tested positive for methadone and morphine is included. Thus, Cree is being presented as a drug addict.


What's redacted is this:

"Query of the Michigan Automated Prescription System does not return a record of a prescription for methadone in the decedent's name." The authorities also redacted, "Review of avaiable medical records does not disclose a record of methadone administration during admission to the emergency department."

Cree would only have been receiving prescriptions for methadone if she was in treatment for addiction. Thus, the fact that she had no recorded history of drug addiction was hidden. The fact that drugs were in her system was not redacted.

The final blow is a not a redaction, but an omission: Cree had been administered morphine during her trip to the emergency room. The combination of omission and redaction strike me as an attempt to paint Cree as a drug addict.

Through redaction and ommission, the Medical Examiner's office did little short of accuse Cree of being addicted to street drugs, and blamed her death not on an injury sustained during an abortion/IUD insertion, but on the fact that she had been pregnant.






Dr. Thacker's Bad Month and Other Cases

Safe and Legal in Texas, 1997

Sixteen-year-old Maureen Espinoza underwent a safe, legal abortion at a doctor's office in San Antonio on March 28, 1997. During the abortion, the doctor punctured Maureen's uterus, but didn't note this in her medical records or say anything to her about it, indicating that he simply didn't notice. Maureen was sent home. On April 3, she went to the emergency room at Northeast Baptist Hospital. Over the ensuing days, doctors there performed two surgeries to try to save her life, but to no avail. She died on April 15, 1997.


The Case that Sent Thacker to Prison, 1932

Headshot of a middle-aged white man with a high forehead, large nose, and grim facial expression
Dr. Richard Thacker
Dr. Richard E. Thacker maintained an office and operating rooms in the Terminal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In the early part of April, 1932, 21-year-old Ruth Hall went with her friends, Helen Wright and Margy Brown, to Thacker's practice. Ruth's friends stayed in the waiting room while Thacker took Ruth back into his exam room for five or ten minutes. Thacker told Ruth to return at noon the following day, April 6, a Wednesday.

Ruth, Margy, and Helen returned as instructed, bringing Ruth's roommate, Elma Benne, with them. Helen went into the procedure room with Ruth. Helen said she saw Ruth give Thacker money. Ruth then got onto the table as instructed by Thacker, Helen said, then he used a long, slender instrument and packed her with gauze.

Helen and Ruth collected their friends and went back to the boarding house where Ruth lived. Helen remained with her friend for four hours, leaving her in the care of her roommate. Helen returned to the boarding house on Thursday, and spent the night with Ruth and Elma. Ruth took ill in the night. Elma said that her friend "suffered quite a bit." Both Helen and Elma observed blood on the bed at the time. Helen said goodbye to Ruth at 10:00 Friday morning. She never saw her friend again.

On Saturday, Ruth's brother came to bring his sister to their parents' house, as was their routine. Mrs. Hall wept on the witness stand as she told the story of her daughter's death. She reported that Ruth was sick when she arrived at about 4 or 5 p.m. It wasn't until roughly 11:00 that Ruth finally told her mother why she was ill. Mrs. Hall called Thacker and scolded him into coming to her home to care for Ruth. Once he was there, she also had to scold him into sterilizing his instruments and washing his hands before performing a follow-up procedure.

Mrs. Hall reported that Thacker told her, "This is something I certainly do not approve of; I told the girl this when she came to the office and wanted help, but I could not turn her down. It seems like the more I try to help people lately the most of them get into worse trouble." He also said that if his wife knew he was performing abortions "she would kill me. I feel like sometimes going and jumping in the river, and if I had I would be better off."

Ruth's mother called Thacker again on Friday, April 15, but by the time he arrived, it was too late.

After Ruth's death, Thacker fled to his brother-in-law's ranch near Amarillo, Texas. He then relocated to Springdale, Arkansas, where he was finally apprehended.

Over Thacker's understandable, albeit unsustainable, objections, the court permitted a number of witnesses to testify that after Ruth's visit to his practice, Thacker had performed fatal abortions on Robbie Lou Thompson, Lennis May Roach, and Nancy Joe Lee.

It took the jury of twelve men, eight of them fathers, only a little more than one hour and only four ballots to find Thacker guilty of murder. He appealed the conviction, but the appeal was denied, and Thacker, age 60, was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor. He died of a heart attack shortly after midnight on April 1, 1937.


Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1916

Homemaker Margaret Waldon, age 33, of Burley Avenue, Chicago died in South Chicago Hospital on April 15, 1916. She had been brought there by private ambulance the previous week. Her death was attributed to an illegal abortion.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A String of Deaths in Oklahoma, and Possible Corruption in Chicago

The Beginning of a Tragic Series of Deaths

A middle-aged white man with a very high forehead, large nose, and stern facial expression
Dr. Richard Thacker
On April 14, 1932, 21-year-old Mrs. Isabelle Ferguson died of suspected abortion complications. Two physicians in the University of Oklahoma area, J. W. Eisiminger and Richard E. Thacker, were suspected in the case. Isabelle's husband, S. E. Ferguson, sued Thacker for $10,000 in damages, indicating that Thacker was probably the perpetrator. Thacker was also implicated other abortion cases:
Thacker was sentenced to life in prison for Ruth Hall's death. His attorney announced an immediate motion for an appeal, on the grounds that Thacker's other abortions should not have been admitted as testimony.


Possible Corruption in Chicago

Mamie Ethel Crowell, age 20, died on April 14, 1930, in the Chicago office of Dr. Hans Paulsen, from an abortion performed on her that day. Two days later, Paulsen was booked for manslaughter by abortion. The father of the baby, Uriah Denniston, was booked as accessory. Paulson was held by the Coroner for murder by abortion. Denniston wasn't mentioned in the verdict. On September 1, the indictment was quashed. The source notes "Circumstances suggesting judicial corruption."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Two Different Stellas, Two Different Decades

Safe and Legal in California, 1968

Stella Saenz, age 42, was one of the growing number of safe-and-legal abortion deaths that were to soon almost completely replace illegal abortion deaths in the United States over the coming decade.

Stella had arranged for a legal abortion in the spring of 1968. At that time, California allowed legal abortions, but only in hospitals.

On April 11, she was admitted to Los Angeles County General Hospital with sepsis.  Doctors administered penicillin. Stella went into anaphylactic shock; neither she nor the doctors had realized that Stella was allergic to penicillin.  Doctors tried to treat both the infection and Stella's reaction to the penicillin, to no avail. She died on April 13.

The California Department of Public Health classified Stella's death as both a drug reaction death and a legal abortion death.


One of Louise Achtenberg's Many Victims

On April 13, 1909, Stella Kelly Lowery, age 28, died of septicemia at a hospital in Chicago, from an abortion that had been perpetrated around March 5. Stella, a waitress, was divorced and was identified by her maiden name in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database.

Louise Actenberg, age 59, sometimes identified as a doctor and sometimes as a midwife, was charged with murder by abortion by a coroner's jury. Achtenberg was also implicated in the 1907 abortion death of Dora Swan and the 1909 abortion deaths of Stella and of Florence Wright. In 1918, at the age of 69, she was arrested for performing an abortion on Miss Ruth G. Pickling,[1] but acquitted, going on to be arrested for the 1920 abortion death of Violet McCormick and the 1924 death of Madelyn Anderson. I can find no record that she was ever incarcerated, which is hardly surprising, given how hospitable Chicago has typically been to the many doctors and midwives who perpetrated abortions in the city.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Deadly Doctors, 1991, 1984, and 1935

Safe and Legal in New Jersey, 1991

On April 6, 1991, "Terri," age 34, had an abortion at a doctor's office in the 1100 block of Summit Avenue in Union City, New Jersey. A nurse called the police saying that they needed emergency help for an unconscious patient. According to the police report, the doctor had already left the facility when the nurse called for help. Terri was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. She was pronounced dead on April 11, 1991.

Delayed Transport Leads to Death in Texas, 1984
A slightly overweight middle-aged white man with dark hair, wearing a suit and tie and enormous aviator-style sunglasses
Dr. Raymond Showery

Abortionist Raymond E. Showery was out on bail appealing a murder conviction when he performed the safe, legal abortion that killed 28-year-old Mickey Apodaca on April 11, 1984.

Mickey, a divorced mother of four, went to Showery's Southside Medical Center in El Paso for an abortion on April 11, 1984. She was about 19 weeks pregnant. During the abortion, Showery tore a hole in Mickey's uterus and severed a uterine artery. Mickey hemorrhaged for two hours before she was transferred to a hospital, where she died during an emergency hysterectomy.  Showery was held pending $1 million dollars bail while awaiting trial for manslaughter in Mickey's death. While he was in prison, local pro-choicers rallied outside with signs asserting that Showery was "a good man" and that he "helps the poor." The fact that he helped Mickey Apodaca straight into an early grave was lost on them.


Benevolence To Young Men, Death to Young Women

A bald, middle-aged white man wearing dark-rimmed round eyeglasses and a grim facial expression
Dr. Guy E. Brewer
Doris Jones, a 20-year-old mother of two, died April 11, 1935, from complications of a criminal abortion perpetrated on April 3. Dr. Guy E. Brewer, a 53-year-old bachelor known for his benevolence toward college students, was fingered as the culprit by Doris' husband, Victor. Brewer was a quiet, small-town doctor in Garber, Oklahoma and immensely popular for his benevolence in putting local young men through college.

Doris' 22-year-old husband, Victor, a grocery clerk, had not known about the abortion until after Doris took ill. He reported the deadly abortion to police, whereupon his employer retaliated by firing him.

Victor at least had the company of other bereaved families whose loved ones had died from abortions perpetrated by Brewer. Hermoine Fowler, a 20-year-old college student,Wanda Lee Gray, age 20, Myrtle Rose, age 21, and Elizabeth Shaw, age 23, evidently died in early June of 1935.

Brewer pleaded guilty to all six deaths but only got a slap on the wrist -- six four-year sentences, to run concurrently.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1912

In the morning of April 10, 1912, 38-year-old Mrs. Grace Peters died at Columbus Hospital in Chicago. She had been taken to the hospital after having taken very ill in her home on April 4.

When asked who had perpetrated the abortion, Grace refused to say. There was some conjecture that she had perpetrated the abortion herself.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Mystery Abortion, Chicago, 1928


On April 8, 1928, 26-year-old Mildred Jakobsen, a Chicago native, "took sick" at work. She died there before she could be taken to a hospital. On May 4, the Cook County coroner concluded that Mildred had died from complications of a criminal abortion, and recommended the identification and arrest of the person or persons responsible. Nobody was ever held accountable for Mildred's death.

Friday, April 07, 2017

A Proposal Regarding "Wrongful Births"

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is in a tizzy because the Texas Senate passed a bill to eliminate "wrongful birth" lawsuits.

As much as I agree with the principle that doctors ought not to lie and/or withhold information, I find the concept of a "wrongful birth" is abhorrent. The state should not be sanctioning the idea that another person's mere existence is a harm to another. But I'd be willing to let the abortion lobby keep their "wrongful birth" lawsuits on one condition: That they also allow for a wrongful death lawsuit if a doctor lies and/or withholds information and a woman has an abortion as a result.

I'm not picturing any takers, though.

Three Abortions, Over a Century Ago

Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1915

Katherine McFarland, a 25-year-old homemaker in Chicago, died on April 7, 1915 from peritonitis caused by an abortion. I have been unable to find any other information about her death.


A Cry in the Night, 1896

On the evening of Monday, April 6, 1896, Tillie Karcher heard moaning in the flat of seamstress Millie Meyers, just upstairs of her at 415 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn. She listened again and heard a young female voice crying out, "Oh, let me go home to my mama!"

Alarmed, Mrs. Karchner sought out a policeman on his rounds, who went to the apartment and found a young woman there, ailing and alone. The girl gave her name as Mrs. Emily Scott and said that her husband, Ollie Scott, was a fireman on a Fulton ferry.

The policeman found prescription bottles in the room, so he copied the information from them and went to the pharmacy that had prepared them. The pharmacist said that the medicines were common ones used in treating fevers.

The policeman considered all these goings-on to be fishy, so he reported the situation to the precinct captain, who began an investigation to identify and round up everybody involved in the young woman's suspicious illness.

Around 5:30 on Tuesday afternoon, April 7, the young woman said that she was going to die soon, told the police that her real name was Emily Binney and gave them her address on Rutledge Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Emily's turn for the worse sent the police rushing for the coroner, leaving the ailing girl in the care of Minnie Meyer. The coroner arrived to find that Miss Meyer had abandoned Emily, leaving her to die alone in the intervening half hour.

Meyer was eventually apprehended and admitted that she'd helped 20-year-old Emily to seek out the abortion services of 33-year-old midwife Mary Schott and had herself been engaged to look after the patient.

A police officer went to the Fulton ferry house and managed to identify "Ollie Scott" as Arthur Robbins, who was arrested when he showed up at Meyer's flat to look for Emily at 10:00 that evening.

While the suspects were being questioned, Minnie said that Emily's baby had been born alive on March 21. Upon hearing that, Robbins burst into tears and told police that about four hours after the child's birth he had wrapped the baby in newspapers weighted down with a piece of iron and thrown it out a porthole in the ferry. He couldn't say if the baby had still been alive when it was tossed into the river.

Arthur Robbins then admitted that he had gone with Emily and Minnie to arrange for Mrs. Schott to perform an abortion.

Minnie Meyer was found guilty of manslaughter. I've been unable to determine the outcome of the case against the midwife.


Fatal in Minneapolis, 1889

Minnie Broderick, age 25, died in Minneapolis on April 7, 1889 from complications of a recent criminal abortion.

Dr. Irvine testified that Minnie had come to his practice about ten days prior to her death, saying that she had been unwell since miscarrying. He said that he examined her and found no signs of pregnancy. The three doctors who performed the postmortem examination indicated that she had clearly died from an abortion performed a few days earlier.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Another Chicago Doctor's Abortion Business, 1927

On the morning of April 5, 1927, Arhne Reynolds died at the Chicago office of Dr. Louis Ginsburg from an abortion performed on her there that day. Ginsburg was arrested on April 18, and indicted for felony murder on May 15.

So far I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case.

Arhne's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s

During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.


Graph showing the maternal mortality rate at about 850 in 1800, dropping to 700 around 1910, jumping to around 800 in 1920, falling at about a 45 degree angle until 1940, then plummeting sharply until 1950, where it begins to level off before sitting just above 0 from around 1978 onward


Suicide After an Abortion by Abortion-Rights Hero

Dear Lord,


I sit here alone with my thoughts wondering if you will ever forgive me. Why do I continue to fail you? I'm failing you because I‘m turning away from the precious gift of having a child. A child. A breathing, living, beautiful life that I created but too selfish to accept from you. Will you still love me as a child of yours? Will I still love me after today?
Haley‘s journal - Oct. 23, 2000

On April 5, 2001, Donetta Robben‘s 22-year-old niece didn't show up for work. Her friend Rosa drove over to check on her, and her car wasn't there. Rosa called the girl‘s father, Edwin. Had she gone home to visit her family?

Edwin later said he just knew that his daughter was dead. He called the Omaha police, and he called his daughter's landlord. They went to the apartment. They found her body.

Though the coroner estimated that the young woman had been dead for several days, all official documents, and the young woman‘s tombstone, use the April 5th date. So will I.

In telling her niece's story, Donetta decided to use the name ‘Haley Mason‘ rather than her niece‘s real name. In respect for the family‘s desire to grieve privately, I‘m using the name Donetta uses: Haley Mason. Likewise, I use the pseudonyms Donetta uses for friends and family members.

The official ruling was that Haley‘s death was an accidental overdose. Her family was stunned as the investigators spoke with them, revealing the discoveries made while looking into the young woman‘s death. Isolated words echoed in their minds: death, journals, death, pills, death, drinking, death, hurt, death, abortion... Abortion?

Abortion.
The answers to how Haley went from happy-go-lucky college student to suicide statistic weren't in the official reports. They were found in Haley‘s journals, where she poured her heart out in the final months of her life.

The story of how Haley died begins when she fell in love with Todd. She found out she was pregnant and told him. He wanted her to get an abortion.

Dear Lord,

I sit here alone with my thoughts wondering if you will ever forgive me. Why do I continue to fail you? I'm failing you because I‘m turning away from the precious gift of having a child. A child. A breathing, living, beautiful life that I created but too selfish to accept from you. Will you still love me as a child of yours? Will I still love me after today?
Haley‘s journal - Oct. 23, 2000

On April 5, 2001, Donetta Robben‘s 22-year-old niece didn't show up for work. Her friend Rosa drove over to check on her, and her car wasn't there. Rosa called the girl‘s father, Edwin. Had she gone home to visit her family?

Edwin later said he just knew that his daughter was dead. He called the Omaha police, and he called his daughter's landlord. They went to the apartment. They found her body.

Though the coroner estimated that the young woman had been dead for several days, all official documents, and the young woman‘s tombstone, use the April 5th date. So will I.

In telling her niece's story, Donetta decided to use the name ‘Haley Mason‘ rather than her niece‘s real name. In respect for the family‘s desire to grieve privately, I‘m using the name Donetta uses: Haley Mason. Likewise, I use the pseudonyms Donetta uses for friends and family members.

The official ruling was that Haley‘s death was an accidental overdose. Her family was stunned as the investigators spoke with them, revealing the discoveries made while looking into the young woman‘s death. Isolated words echoed in their minds: death, journals, death, pills, death, drinking, death, hurt, death, abortion... Abortion?

Abortion.
The answers to how Haley went from happy-go-lucky college student to suicide statistic weren't in the official reports. They were found in Haley‘s journals, where she poured her heart out in the final months of her life.

The story of how Haley died begins when she fell in love with Todd. She found out she was pregnant and told him. He wanted her to get an abortion.

A two story building. The bottom story is brick, with dark brickwork depicting an old jalopy. A huge business sign points to stairs beside the building.
LeRoy Carhart's clinic in Belleview, Nebraska
Haley was a student at the University of Nebraska. She worked two jobs to meet her expenses. Unmarried, without much money, and with a disapproving boyfriend, Haley saw abortion as her only option. She made her appointment at the Bellevue, Nebraska practice of  Dr. Leroy Carhart. It was late October of 2000.

Haley wrote of Todd‘s attitude: "I must let him abandon me. He doesn't care about me. I know he‘s only agreed to pay for it to ease his own guilt."

Haley found the abortion stressful: the wait, the sounds, the crude and uncaring behavior of the doctor. Haley‘d been told to arrive at the clinic at 7:00 in the morning, but it was ten hours before she was finally on the table, ready for the abortion. Carhart walked into the room, clad in a dirty coat and glasses so smeared that Haley‘s friend, who had accompanied her, wondered how he could even see through the lenses.

Candid outdoor shot of an overweight middle-aged man with his hair going white in the front. He is wearing a suit and tie.Haley, in her fog of medication, tried to make a joke. "Don‘t hurt me down there?" she said. "Be still and I won‘t," Carhart replied.

While performing the vacuum abortion, Carhart spouted profanities. He told Haley and her friend that he was tired. He‘d been speaking in California the day before, and had just flown into Omaha that morning.

After the abortion, Haley felt violated, as if she‘d been raped. She also experienced continued spotting into January. She'd not been given a follow-up appointment, and didn't know if the bleeding was normal or not. She didn't want to go to another doctor, because she‘d have to tell him about the abortion, and that was just too painful to talk about. The bleeding was a constant reminder of the death of her unborn baby.

Haley told few people about the abortion: three close friends and two relatives. But she didn't tell them of her struggle to cope with the emotional pain. She kept telling herself that she‘d done the best thing. But she started punishing herself, and pushed away anybody who tried to love her. She didn't feel that she deserved their love.

Haley longed for a knight in shining armor to rescue her from the prison of her grief, but she no longer felt comfortable with men. She had to get drunk to be able to endure sex. And even then, it reminded her of the abortion. Todd came by at early hours, looking for sex. Haley submitted, but her heart wasn't in it. She no longer felt loved. She felt used.

The drinking got worse. Hot baths and quick jogs provided temporary relief from the anguish, but it always returned.

Finally, Haley could stand it no more.

First, plenty of numbing alcohol. Then, she went into her living room and grabbed a precious photo of her late mother and maternal grandfather. Next, a bottle of vodka. A bottle of aspirin. An old prescription bottle of Benadryl. Haley washed the drugs down with the vodka, leaving the three bottles next to the photograph.

She went into the bedroom. She put her rosary around her neck. She set an empty holy water bottle on her dresser. She opened her journal to the day of the abortion. She lay down, head on her pillow, looking for the  rest she couldn't find any more in living.

Leaving her family to sort out their own pain.Haley was a student at the University of Nebraska. She worked two jobs to meet her expenses. Unmarried, without much money, and with a disapproving boyfriend, Haley saw abortion as her only option. She made her appointment at the Bellevue, Nebraska practice of Dr. Leroy Carhart. It was late October of 2000.

Haley wrote of Todd‘s attitude: "I must let him abandon me. He doesn't care about me. I know he‘s only agreed to pay for it to ease his own guilt."

Haley found the abortion stressful: the wait, the sounds, the crude and uncaring behavior of the doctor. Haley‘d been told to arrive at the clinic at 7:00 in the morning, but it was ten hours before she was finally on the table, ready for the abortion. Carhart walked into the room, clad in a dirty coat and glasses so smeared that Haley‘s friend, who had accompanied her, wondered how he could even see through the lenses.

Haley, in her fog of medication, tried to make a joke. "Don‘t hurt me down there?" she said. "Be still and I won‘t," Carhart replied.

While performing the vacuum abortion, Carhart spouted profanities. He told Haley and her friend that he was tired. He‘d been speaking in California the day before, and had just flown into Omaha that morning.

After the abortion, Haley felt violated, as if she‘d been raped. She also experienced continued spotting into January. She'd not been given a follow-up appointment, and didn't know if the bleeding was normal or not. She didn't want to go to another doctor, because she‘d have to tell him about the abortion, and that was just too painful to talk about. The bleeding was a constant reminder of the death of her unborn baby.

Haley told few people about the abortion: three close friends and two relatives. But she didn't tell them of her struggle to cope with the emotional pain. She kept telling herself that she‘d done the best thing. But she started punishing herself, and pushed away anybody who tried to love her. She didn't feel that she deserved their love.

Haley longed for a knight in shining armor to rescue her from the prison of her grief, but she no longer felt comfortable with men. She had to get drunk to be able to endure sex. And even then, it reminded her of the abortion. Todd came by at early hours, looking for sex. Haley submitted, but her heart wasn't in it. She no longer felt loved. She felt used.

The drinking got worse. Hot baths and quick jogs provided temporary relief from the anguish, but it always returned.

Finally, Haley could stand it no more.

First, plenty of numbing alcohol. Then, she went into her living room and grabbed a precious photo of her late mother and maternal grandfather. Next, a bottle of vodka. A bottle of aspirin. An old prescription bottle of Benadryl. Haley washed the drugs down with the vodka, leaving the three bottles next to the photograph.

She went into the bedroom. She put her rosary around her neck. She set an empty holy water bottle on her dresser. She opened her journal to the day of the abortion. She lay down, head on her pillow, looking for the rest she couldn't find any more in living.

Leaving her family to sort out their own pain.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Safe and Legal, an Abortion Ring, and Other Cases

The First of Two Deaths in Two Years

Mary Bradley, a 41-year-old mother of four, underwent a safe, legal 20-week abortion performed Dr. George Wayne Patterson in March of 1985. Because of severe bleeding, she was admitted to a hospital and had a total hysterectomy on March 28. Mary developed blood clotting and respiratory difficulties, and finally died on April 4, 1985.

According to official documents, another Alabama woman, Janyth Caldwell, died the following year after an abortion performed by Patterson.


A Multi-State Abortion Ring

New York police had been investigating an abortion ring when they got a tip, possibly trough a wire tap, that a woman was at the practice, seriously injured. Accompanied by an ambulance, police broke into a private home at 2753 Sexton Place, in the Pelham section of the Bronx, on April 4, 1954. There they found Gertrude Pinsky, age 35, dead from septic poisoning from an illegal abortion. Gertrude, who had worked as a civilian employee at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, had been left fully clothed, complete with topcoat, propped up sitting in a chair. She had died of sepsis.

Police arrested Florence Cavalluzzo, a former practical nurse and resident of the home, and Hugo Francese, a physician who had lost his license in 1947 related to, as far as I can determine, drug charges. He also had been arrested twice in the past for committing abortions.

Later arrested were Jack M. Werner, owner of Werner Surgical Supplies, and Ignatius Cavalluzzo, Florence Cavalluzzo's son, along with Mrs. Elizabeth Blum, a convicted abortionist who was promptly picked up for violating her parole.

To add to the creepiness of the situation, the home was owned by a butcher and his wife, James and Mary Amodeo, who evidently rented space for abortions at $25 a pop. The Amodeos plea-bargained down to conspiracy to commit abortion, which was a misdemeanor, in exchange for their cooperation in the investigation of a three-state abortion ring. They were given a suspended sentence.

Dr. Samuel E. Witt was charged with referring women to the ring, evidently run by Dr. Herbert S. Wolfe. Four doctors were charged with referring women and receiving a $30 kickback for each referral: Joseph F. Pacelli, Abraham Cohen, Kalman Molnar, and Poon Lim. The abortions themselves cost between $200 and $400.

Francese and Florence Cavalluzzo were convicted of first-degree manslaughter in Gertrude's death and sentenced to 12 1/2 to 15 years for first degree manslaughter . A police detective, Valentine J. Stewart, found at the home at the time of the raid, was acquitted. Stewart's son, police patrolman Joseph F. Stewart, was also implicated as a conspirator in the ring.


Guilty of Manslaughter

3/4 profile of a middle-aged white man in a jacket and tie
Dr. Charles Gordon
On March 30, 1939, Dr. Charles I. Gordon, evidently of previously good repute, was found guilty of manslaughter in the first degree for the abortion death of 39-year-old Rose Glickfield. Gordon had perpetrated the abortion at his office on April 2, 1937. She evidently remained at his office, because she died in transit from his office to a hospital by ambulance on April 4.







Deathbed Statement but No Prosecution

On April 4, 1907, Mrs. Norma Beck, age 32, died at Lakeside Hospital in Chicago from septic peritonitis caused by a criminal abortion perpetrated at the office of Dr. Thomas J Balhatchett on March 24.

Dr. James W. Walker and Dr. H. N. Richter had attended Normal at the hospital, and relayed Norma's deathbed statement to police. She directly implicated Balhatchett. Some of her relatives and friends also spoke to the police, fingering Balhatchett.

Balhollchett was held by the coroner's jury and indicted, but there is no record that the case went to trial.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Two Busy Abortionists and Other Sad Cases

Safe and Legal in Texas

Sixteen-year-old Maureen Espinoza underwent a safe, legal abortion at a doctor's office in San Antonio on March 28, 1997. During the abortion, the doctor punctured Maureen's uterus, but didn't note this in her medical records or say anything to her about it, indicating that he simply didn't notice. Maureen was sent home. On April 3, she went to the emergency room at Northeast Baptist Hospital. Over the ensuing days, doctors there performed two surgeries to try to save her life, but to no avail. She died on April 15, 1997.


Nearing the End for Dr. Justin Mitchell
 
A youngish white man with a high forehead and dark hair, facing the camera, with a pale colored jacket and dark necktie
Dr. Justin Mitchell
On February 12, 1936, Dr. Justin Mitchell, age 57, of Chicago was convicted of manslaughter in the April 3, 1935 abortion death of 32-year-old Mary Nowalowski.  Eleven days before his conviction, another of Mitchell's patients, Alice Haggin, died from abortion complications. Two years earlier, Mitchell had been implicated in the abortion death of Mary Schwartz.

The prime witness in the case was milk wagon driver Stephen Zakes. He and Mary were planning a wedding for the upcoming May.  On March 27, Stephen brought Mary to the Chicago office of Dr. Victor J. Neale. He then met with the couple together, telling them that Mary was between two and two and a half months pregnant. Mary began to cry and ask Neale, "What will I do?"

Stephen testified that Neale had referred them to Dr. Justin Mitchell; Neale insisted that he had simply told them they could go to some busy corner and find an abortionist.

Stephen and Mary went to Mitchell's office on the evening of Friday, March 29. Mitchell examined Mary and confirmed that she was pregnant. She was at least eight weeks along, Mitchell said, and if she returned the following morning at 8:00 he would perform an abortion. The fee would be $50. He assured them that there was no danger for Mary to undergo the procedure.

Stephen Zakes went to Mitchell's office at around 11:00 the morning of Saturday, March 30 to see how Mary was doing after the abortion. "She will be all right, she is in a little pain right now." Stephen went to see Mary himself and found her to be in excruciating pain, unable to even sit up. Mitchell insisted to him, "They are all weak after an operation of that kind."

Stephen escorted Mary home. She was weak and chilly. They stopped at a drug store for coffee and toast, then walked to a cab stand where Mary became violently ill. After Stephen took Mary home, she immediately took to her bed. Dr. Neale was summoned to examine her. Neale provided morphine for Mary's pain before leaving. Stephen remained with her until about 1:00 in the morning on Sunday, March 31.

Somebody brought Dr. G. M. Redman to Mary's home between 4:00 and 5:00 that morning. He found Mary in such grave shape that he immediately took her to his car and drove her to the hospital.

Mary was given medicine to contract her uterus but she continued to bleed so Redman contacted the coroner's office then performed a curretage of Mary's uterus. Her cervix had already been damaged, showing tearing and pus. During the curretage, Redman retrieved the head of Mary's fetus along with retained portions of the placenta.

Redman's care notwithstanding, Mary died on Wednesday, April 3. A postmortem examination concluded that Mary's uterus had developed gangrene due to the abortion, and that she had died of hemorrhage and septic shock.



One of Dr. Thacker's Cluster of Victims

Headshot of a middle-aged white man with a very high forehead, large nose, and dour expression
Dr. Richard Thacker
Ethel Hestland, age 30, died on April 3, 1932, in the Oklahoma City area from a criminal abortion. Her death certificate was signed by Dr. Richard E. Thacker. Thacker had been implicated for a string of other abortion deaths, including:
  • Marie Epperson, February, 1929, Thacker suspected
  • Isobel F. Ferguson, April, 1932, Thacker suspected, sued by widower
  • Ruth Hall, April, 1932: Thacker convicted of murder
  • Lennis May Roach, April, 1932: Thacker implicated by multiple witnesses; outcome of case unknown to me
  • Nancy Joe Lee, April, 1932: Thacker implicated by multiple witnesses; outcome of case unknown to me
  • Robbie Lou Thompson, April, 1932: Thacker implicated by multiple witnesses; outcome of case unknown to me
I believe that Thacker wasn't prosecuted for the other deaths because the successful conviction for Ruth Hall's death took him off the streets.


A Chicago Midwife

On April 3, 1928, 30-year-old homemaker Stefania Kwit, a native of Poland, died from complications of a criminal abortion believed to have been performed that day by 45-year-old midwife Pauline Majerczyk. On May 3, Mauerczyk was held by the coroner for murder by abortion, and indicted for felony murder on May 15. Evidently she remained free, because she is still listed as a midwife living in Chicago in the 1930 Federal census. She would have blended in well in Chicago, where midwife-abortionists were common in that era.


An Unknown Perpetrator

On April 3, 1919, 22-year-old homemaker Mary Kizior, a native of Poland, died at Chicago's Jefferson Park Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by an unknown suspect.