Tuesday, January 28, 2020

January 28: From 1867 to 1974

Unable to Hide the Crime in 1867

On January 29, 1867, Dr. Edward Dalton of the New York Metropolitan Board of Health received notice that Civil War widow Elizabeth Kimball  had died at her home the day before. One of the city coroners, Robert Gamble, provided a certificate he had signed indicating that he'd held an inquest in which it had been determined that Elizabeth had died "from injuries received by a fall on the 22nd day of January, 1867." A permit was provided to remove her body to Providence, Rhode Island, for burial. Dr. George Beakley had signed the death certificate as the attending physician.

However, another inquest was held by George Wrightmann after Elizabeth's body had been sent to the cemetery in Providence. This inquest, performed on March 14 in the receiving tomb of the North Burying Ground, revealed that Elizabeth had died from injuries to the uterus caused by an abortion performed with instrument on or about January 24. Wrightmann concluded that Beakley had falsified Mrs. Kimball's death certificate, and that Robert Gambell had falsified documents as well -- that no coroner's inquest had in fact taken place in New York. In fact, the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Kimball's death and the documentation afterward had been so suspicious that the Sanitary Superintendent had refused a New York burial permit, thus necessitating the burial in Rhode Island.

Dr. Beakley, under oath, finally conceded that he had falsified the death certificate -- that he'd known that Mrs. Kimball had died of abortion complications. However, he denied having been the guilty doctor. Eventually Sarah Coggshall, who had lived with Mrs. Kimball, had testified under oath she had accompanied her cousin to Dr. Beakley's office, that she and Mrs. Kimball had awaited the doctor there, and that clearly Beakley knew her on sight, since he greeted her by name when he arrived. Sarah testified that Mrs. Kimball had admitted that the doctor had performed an operation on her, and that she expected to be sick that night as a result.  Beakley was summoned several times to attend to Mrs. Kimball until her death.

Tried to Implicate Estranged Husband in 1911

On January 28, 1911, 18-year-old homemaker Lillie Hirst died in the Chicago residence of Dr. J. L Aldrich. Prior to her death Lillie said that her estranged husband had kicked her down the stairs at her mother's house. When the police arrested him for his wife's death, William Hirst he told them that Lillie's death was not due to a fall but due to an abortion Aldrich had perpetrated.  A postmortem examination and inquest concluded that Lillie had indeed died from septicemia caused by an abortion that had been perpetrated less than a week prior. Dr. Aldrich and Mrs. Treshelling were held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted, but the case never went to trial for reasons I have been unable to determine.

Midwife Implicated in 1912

On January 28, 1912, 28-year-old homemaker Mary Balogh, an immigrant from Hungary, died at the practice of midwife Anna Klickner from an abortion perpetrated there the previous day. Klickner was arrested at the scene but escaped. She was captured on November 26 and indicted on December 15. Klickner was charged with murder but the case never went to trial for reasons I have been unable to determine.

Self-Induced in 1918

On January 28, 1918, 27-year-old Annabella Lewis, a homemaker, died in at West Penn Hospital in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The autopsy concluded that she had performed a self-induced abortion using slippery elm bark. She had told her husband, Albert, about the abortion, but had denied even being ill to anybody else until her admission to the hospital. She lingered there for about 17 hours until her death.

Doctor Threatens Dead Woman's Family, 1943

Lavern Perez, age 22, died at her home in Chicago on January 28, 1943. Dr. Henry Gross, age 58, was found guilty of manslaughter by abortion. He later won a new trial. The prosecution presented Gross as having a dual personality. Gross had a respectable medical practice. However, after a Dr. Ira Willits died, Gross set up shop in Willits's old office as an abortionist under Willit's name. It was at this office, Lavern's mother-in-law, Olga Perez, testified, that Gross perpetrated the fatal operation. Mrs. Perez said that Lavern had paid an office attendant $60 for the abortion.

The day after Lavern died, Mrs. Perez said, Dr. Gross appeared at her home with a gun, which he used to threaten both her and her son. They wrestled the gun away from him, whereupon he begged for the weapon back so he could kill himself. Gross had insisted that he'd only been treating Lavern for a cold. However, he was also investigated for the February 20, 1943 abortion death of Dorothy Webber, age 20.

Lay Abortionist, 1947

Kerneda Bennett, though living with her husband in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was pregnant as a result of an extramarital affair. She asked her friend, Irene Davis, to help her arrange an abortion. The two of them visited  Iva Rodeffer Davis Coffman at her home at Mt. Crawford early in January of 1947. Coffman took Kerneda into a bedroom. "When they came out," according to legal records, "Mrs. Coffman told Mrs. Bennett to come back if nothing had happened in fourteen days, and if anything was said about why they were there to say they came to have a dress made."

About two weeks later, on January 27, Kerneda "had not had the result expected," asked Irene to contact Coffman again. The two of them took a taxi back to Coffman's home about 7:30 on the evening of January 28. While the taxi was waiting, Coffman took Kerneda back into the bedroom. About fifteen or twenty minutes later Irene thought she heard something fall. A few minutes later, Coffman told her that Kerneda had fainted and asked her to come back to the bedroom. Irene found Kerneda lying, groaning, face-down on the floor beside the bed, dressed except for her shoes and coat.

Coffman said that they needed to get Kerneda to a hospital. Irene summoned the taxi driver, who carried Kerneda out to the cab, with instructions from Coffman to say they had been to Mt. Sidney, not Mt. Crawford. Kerneda, who had been nearly lifeless when loaded into the taxi, was dead on arrival at the hospital.

That night Coffman's home was searched, but nothing of evidential value was found. Coffman told the sheriff that Kerneda had asked to use the bathroom, and was shown to the bedroom, and asked for a glass of water. Coffman said she'd brought Kerneda the water, which she had used to wash down two pills from her purse, joking that they were poison. A few minutes later, Coffman said, Kerneda fell onto the floor.

The Harrisonburg/Rockingham County coroner, Dr. Byers, performed the autopsy assisted by Dr. Hill. They found no evidence of external injuries except for a small genital scratch. A piece of tissue from the placenta was in the cervix, a small blood clot was in the vagina, and the uterus was in place, appearing at first to be a normal pregnant uterus with no signs of injury. Upon removing the uterus, the doctors noted a sensation as if the organ contained air. They opened the uterus and found an intact pregnancy with a fetus of about three to four months of gestation.

Byers concluded that an abortion had been attempted, which had caused a fatal air embolism. After the embolism killed Kerneda, the baby died as well. Coffman was convicted of performing the fatal abortion and incarcerated to serve a five year sentence. Coffman appealed. Since the abortion attempt itself had failed to kill the fetus, Coffman's attorney argued, Kerneda's death was not a result of an abortion. The state argued that the attempted abortion had killed Kerneda, whose death then caused the fetal death, and thus the abortion did in fact cause the death of the fetus. Thus the conviction was upheld.

Safe and Legal in 1974

Evangeline McKenna, a Louisiana native, was 38 years old when she checked into Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles for an abortion and tubal ligation. Two days after the procedure, she had a seizure. She stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors told the family that Evanegline was brain dead, but they held out hope and asked that she be put on life support. On January 28, 1974, after twelve days on life support, Evangeline was pronounced dead. She left behind five children. Evangeline's death, in addition to being a tragedy for her family and loved ones, also highlights the disproportionate damage that legal abortion causes among Blacks in the United States.

Though black women are only 13% of the female population in the US, and though they are more likely than white women to oppose abortion, they account for a full 35% of legal abortions reported. Black women, like Evangeline, also account for fully 50% of reported legal abortion deaths.

Monday, January 27, 2020

New Clippings on Belinda Byrd: Even Sadder Than It Already Was

I found more clippings on the death of Belinda Byrd, and they just magnify the sad. Updated areas are highlighted. Some sections have been moved around to incorporate the new information.

News clipping headshot of a smiling young Black woman
Belinda Byrd
Belinda Ann Byrd was a tiny woman, weighing only 95 pounds even when she was 19 weeks into her pregnancy. The mother of three children, all of whom had been delivered by c-section, was afraid to go ahead and have her baby because a doctor had told her that another birth could prove fatal. 

On January 23, 1987, 37-year-old  Belinda reported to  Inglewood Women's Hospital in Los Angeles, California for medications prior to an abortion scheduled the following day. She reported to Inglewood on the 24th for what she expected to be a live-preserving safe and legal abortion performed by Stephen Pine. She was the 69th of 74 women that Pine rushed through Inglewood's single procedure room. Fully 24 of those abortions were performed in the final two hours of the day at the 28-bed hospital.

Pine finished Belinda's abortion in roughly nine minutes, ending at about 4:00 p.m. She was only kept in the recovery room for about seven minutes before she was taken to the hospital's west wing. Belinda complained that she was weak and her legs were numb ab about 5:00 pm. She collapsed in the bathroom a short time later and had to be helped back to her bed.

At some point staff took Belinda's vital signs and noted bloody discharge from her vagina.

At around 7:00 p.m. Belinda again reported that she felt weak and her legs were numb. About ten minutes later a nurse tried to take Belinda's vital signs but could find no pulse. Pine had already left the hospital an hour earlier.

Staff at Inglewood attempted resuscitation themselves, leading to a delay of an additional two hours before transferring her to Centinela Medical Center, a hospital with appropriate emergency services. As a licensed general acute care hospital, Inglewood should have been equipped to treat Belinda's complications.

Belinda arrived at Centinela apparently brain-dead atop bloody sheets. She remained comatose until she was taken off life support on January 27. Her autopsy report noted that she had died due to a punctured uterus. She also had a blood clot in her lung.

Belinda's mother wrote to a Los Angeles district attorney:

  • I am the mother of Belinda Byrd, victim of abortionists at [Inglewood]. I am also the grandmother of her three young children who are left behind and motherless. I cry every day when I think how horrible her death was. She was slashed by them and then she bled to death ... and nobody cares. I know that other young black women are now dead after abortion at that address. ... Where is [the abortionist] now? Has he been stopped? Has anything happened to him because of what he did to my Belinda? Has he served jail time for any of these cruel deaths? People tell me nothing has happened, that nothing ever happens to white abortionists who leave young black women dead. I'm hurting real bad and want some justice for Belinda and all other women who go like sheep to slaughter.

A defense attorney claimed that Belinda hadn't bled to death but had instead died due to a rare condition causing a blood clot to form in her lungs several hours after surgery. "Had three doctors been standing there at the time, the chances of that woman surviving were practically nil. This case doesn't belong in a courtroom. It belongs in a textbook." 

Inglewood officials pooh-poohed the idea that Pine was rushing through abortions too quickly to perform them safely, asserting that it wasn't unusual for one of their doctors to do 100 abortions in a single day. They asserted that this rapid-fire assembly-line approach was safe even though they specialized in more difficult and time-consuming second trimester abortions.

Pine settled out-of-court with Belinda's mother, longtime boyfriend, two siblings, and three children for $250,000 prior to a civil jury deciding that although Pine, Barke, and Inglewood had all been negligent in the care they provided to Belinda, they were could not that the negligence had acually caused her death. Thus the case ended in a mistrial. The children were ages 19, 16, and 14 at the time of the settlement in 1990, which would have made them approximately 16, 13, and 11 at the time of their mother's death.

In the wake of the series of abortion deaths at Inglewood, the authorities inspected the place. Among other things, they caught an abortionist writing post-operative examination notes without even examining the patients. This confirmed what a nurse's aide told investigators after Belinda's death; she told officials that Pine rarely examined patients after their abortions and signed discharge forms before the patients had even left the recovery room. This aide later quit without giving notice, explaining "It was just a slaughterhouse, and I couldn't take it any more." 

Health official Ralph Lopez told the Los Angeles Times that Inglewood had a long history of "battlefield conditions" and a case load of about 1,000 abortions a month in its single operating room. Inglewood processed 11,330 abortion patients in 1986 alone. Patients were rushed through surgery with the table and floors stained with the blood of previous patients. Doctors didn't wash their hands or their equipment between patients. Patients "were encouraged to leave the facility before they felt comfortable doing so," and patients were discharged without being assessed by a physician.

The inspection led to a 29-page report citing 33 violations.

Inglewood was threatened with suspension of Medicare and Medi-Cal funding for problems, including "dumping" an injured abortion patient -- just transferring her to County-USC Medical Center in unstable condition and without alerting the hospital to expect her. 

The state revoked Inglewood's hospital license. Less than two weeks later it reopened as West Coast Women's Medical Group, operating under the name Inglewood Women's Clinic, an outpatient abortion facility. It was later purchased by Edward "Fast Eddie" Allred to add to his Family Planning Associates Medical Group chain of abortion facilities.

Inglewood Women's Hospital was owned by Inglewood General Hospital Corp. Inc., which was headed by abortionist Morton Barke.

Other women known to have died after abortions at the Inglewood facility include Kathy Murphy (1973), Lynette Wallace (1975), Elizabeth Tsuji (1978) and Cora Lewis (1983).










Sunday, January 26, 2020

January 26

A Doctor Implicated in 1920

On January 26, 1920, 24-year-old Lydia Elizabeth Swanson, daughter of Swedish immigrants, died at Chicago's Post Graduate Hospital from an abortion reportedly perpetrated by Dr. Rosa Gollnick. Lydia had developed septic inflammation of both lungs. Gollnick was arrested on January 27 and went to trial, but was acquitted on June 18 for reasons I've been unable to determine. 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.

A Lay Abortionist in 1956

Lois Brown was tried in the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County of second degree murder and abortion in the January 26, 1956 death of 26-year-old Lucia "Lucy" SanchezLucy and her roommate, Clara Thornton, were both pregnant. They went to Brown, who said that her name was Vi, on January 18, 1956. Clara testified that she and Lucy met Brown on the street and got into a car with her. Brown asked "how far along I was and I told her that I was three months along. She said I didn't have anything to worry about. Lois said that Lucy was a bit further ahead of me [six months pregnant] and it was a little more dangerous for her to go through with it, but said she would be all right, if Lucy would be in the care of Vi and present to tie the baby's navel cord and watch her from hemorrhaging."

For some unexplained reason, Lucy lent Clara the money for her abortion and said she'd get the money together for her own somehow. Brown sent Lucy home and took Clara to her practice to do her abortion first. Brown used a syringe to inject Clara with a solution which looked and smelled like Lifebouy soap. Clara struggled through complications, finally consulting with a doctor who saved her life. 


On January 26, Clara paid back the money to Lucy, and Brown took her for her abortion at about 3:00 in the afternoon. At about 7:30 that evening, Brown went to the cafĂ© where Clara worked, asking her to come to take Lucy home. Brown also wanted to know if anybody would disturb them at the house. Clara said that Brown told her "they had gotten through about 5 o'clock and that she started flowing pretty heavily at the time and she started getting dizzy, then went out into a coma, and she was moaning pretty bad and she was afraid that somebody in the neighborhood would hear her and that she'd stay over at our house with her overnight and take care of her."

Clara went to Brown's practice with her. Brown's mother was there as well. Lucy was lying on a couch, with her raincoat and some newspapers under her, and covered with a blanket and a bedspread. There was blood on the bedspread, newspapers, raincoat, and on Lucy. Clara helped Brown carry Lucy down to the car, and accompanied by Brown's mother they drove Lucy to a hospital. Brown instructed Clara to tell staff there that Lucy had been in this condition at home, and that Clara had called Brown for help.

As Clara sat outside the emergency room with Brown and Brown's mother, Brown told Clara "she knew she shouldn't have done it, and took out her wallet, took out $30 and gave it to me and said those $30 were to help me in case Lucy needed anything."

But Lucy was beyond needing any help. A doctor came out and informed the three women that Lucy had been dead on arrival.


Brown was arrested and provided several contradictory stories in her defense at trial. The jury had found no trouble reconciling the testimony, and found Brown guilty of both abortions -- Lucy's and Clara's -- and of the murder of Lucy. Brown appealed on the grounds that she couldn't be convicted of two crimes -- murder and abortion -- for the same act. The court agreed with her, letting the murder conviction stand and throwing out the conviction for Lucy's abortion. She was sentenced to prison for five years to life for Lucy's murder and two to five years on for Clara's abortion.

Safe and Legal in 1990

Ingar Weber, age 28, died January 26, 1990, in a Louisiana hospital. She had been treated for acute kidney failure after a safe and legal abortion performed at Delta Women's Clinic in Baton Rouge on January 20, 1990. Ingar's family sued the clinic and its doctors, Richardson P. Glidden and Thomas Booker. They faulted the doctors with failing to diagnose Ingar's kidney problems, or her deteriorating physical condition, before, during, or after the abortion. Ingar was transported to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where she died.
Delta had also been sued following the death of another abortion patient. This woman was most likely 27-year-old Sheila Hebert, who died after an abortion on June 6, 1984.

Safe and Legal in 2001


On January 22, 2001, 19-year-old Melissa Lynn Heim went to Access Health Center in Downers Grove, Illinois.She was given "twilight anesthesia" with a drug cocktail including Versed, Fentanyl, and Brevital for a safe, legal abortion, which started at about 11:45 a.m. and was finished at about noon. After the abortion, she was moved to the recovery area, where she went into cardio-respiratory arrest about half an hour later. An ambulance was summoned, and Melissa was resuscitated by the paramedics, but due to the brain injury she had suffered, she died on January 26.