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.

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