Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Safe and Legal" in Queens, 2010

Photo of a radiantly-smiling young woman with a round face and honey-blond hair
Alexandra Nunez
Alexandra Nunez was a 37-year-old single mom from New Jersey. On January 25, 2010, she told her family that she was going to a doctor's office in Newark for a procedure to remove a cyst. Instead she went to A1 Medicine in Jackson Heights, Queens for an abortion. She was 16 or 17 weeks pregnant. The abortion was performed at 3:30 p.m. By the end of the day, Alexandra was at Elmhurst Hospital Center, dead from hemorrhage.

Her 19-year-old daughter, Daisy Davila, told the New York Daily News, "I'm upset because I never got a chance to say goodbye. She didn't want anyone to go with her. I made dinner and lunch ,,, hoping she would come back."

Eventually the medical board concluded that the doctor responsible for Alexandra's death was Robert F. Hosty. He had no hospital affiliation and hadn't taken any continuing medical education training since 2004.

Because of Alexandra's obstetric history, which included two c-sections, and the location of the placenta, Hosty should have known that it was unsafe to proceed with an abortion in an outpatient setting. Catastrophic complications are to be predicted, and the doctor must be certain that there is an adequate supply of blood for a possible transfusion, and a fully equipped operating room nearby in case an emergency hysterectomy is needed.

As a prudent physician would have suspected, the placenta had implanted deeply into the area of Alexandra's uterus that had been scarred by the prior surgery.

A red brick building with a music store on the first floor and a sign above the store in Spanish reading "A1 Ginecologica"
A1 Medicine in Queens
After the abortion, Alexandra began to bleed uncontrollably. Rather than seek the cause of the bleeding, Hosty administered medications, then stood by and did nothing while a nurse anesthetist intubated Alexandra and began providing oxygen. Nobody summoned an ambulance until over 45 minutes after blood began pouring out of Alexandra's body.

Paramedics arrived to find Alexandra still on the procedure table in stirrups, cold and gray and for all appearances already dead. Blood was still draining from her body into a pool on the floor. The only monitoring instrument in place was a pulse oximeter. The nurse anesthetist was administering oxygen, and because she was the only one who seemed to know what was going on, the emergency responders assumed that she was the physician. Nobody else was assisting the patient in any way.

The paramedics began a futile attempt to resuscitate Alexandra, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Operation Rescue describes the facility where Alexandra's abortion was done as "located in a run-down building in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood," and was operated by Salomon Epstein. An employee at A1 insisted that all had gone well at their facility. "The patient was transferred to the hospital, she didn't die at the clinic. Nothing happened here." 

"Nothing happened." Except that a woman was fatally injured. It's like the thank you note that Steve Lichtenberg sent for the referral after Deanna Bell's death: "Uneventful D&E". A dead patient. "Uneventful." "Nothing happened."

A1 was an ambulatory surgical facility doing abortions and plastic surgery. They employed Hosty even though he had already allowed a gynecological patient to die by triggering massive bleeding then utterly failing to provide any effective lifesaving care.

A Habitual Offender's Deadly Work, Chicago, 1891

On January 25, 1891, 23-year-old Minnie Deering died at Schaeffer's Hotel in Chicago, evidently due to the effects of carbolic acid mistakenly administered to her by a saloon keeper named Joseph Hoffman. Hoffman reportedly had been involved with Minnie for about four months prior to her death.

Hoffman had checked into the hotel about a week before Minnie's death, saying that his wife would be coming from the country to visit him. She arrived on January 18. She was reported to be sickly and stayed in her room, having her meals delivered to her there.

On January 23, Hoffman brought in Dr. Dietrich to treat Minnie for a fever. Dietrich prescribed an oral medication and an alcohol and carbolic acid solution to be externally applied. He returned the following day to find Minnie's condition improved. About an hour later, Hoffman summoned Dr. Detrich and reported that he'd mixed up the medications and given Minnie the carbolic acid orally by mistake.

Photo clipped from newspaper, showing middle-aged woman in wire rim spectacles
Dr. Lucy Hagenow
When Dr. Dietrich arrived, he found another doctor, W. P. Goodsmith already there. They pumped her stomach and administered counter measures to no avail. Some reports indicate that the County Physician, Dr. Hektoen, had been called in to attend to Minnie. Whoever the doctors were, they pumped Minnie's stomach and made other efforts to save her, but she died at 12:30 p.m.

"At the coroner's inquest it was shown that Miss Deering had visited Dr. Hagenow for relief from her woes, and that she was suffering from a criminal operation when the acid was administered."

The coroner's jury concluded that ultimately Minnie had died because of a criminal abortion since it had started the chain of events that led to Minnie's death. However, they did not conclusively determine that Hagenow herself had perpetrated it. They ordered her held to a grand jury pending further investigation.

Hagenow's attorney, John C. King, requested a writ to get Hagenow released. Judge Tuthill "readily granted it, saying that the verdict was an admission and an exhibition of ignorance, and that Mrs. Hagenow should not have spent an hour in jail.

Hoffman told the doctors that he and Minnie had secretly married and had secretly come to the city to procure the services of a "Mrs. Hageman," who evidently was Hagenow, since it was she who was arrested.

Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie DorrisAbbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen deaths in Chicago, where the political climate and police corruption were more congenial to her practice. Those women included: Sophia Kuhn, Emily AndersonHannah CarlsonMarie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie LowyNina H. PierceJean CohenBridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter, and Mary Moorehead.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Legal and Illegal Deaths in the Post-Roe Era

I have very little information on the first death today from the Cemetery of Choice. The March 1990 Bernadell Technical Bulletin says that 17-year-old Glenna Jean Fox underwent a second trimester abortion at the hands of Dr. Morris Wortman in January of 1989. Glenna Jean continued to bleed for two days after this second-trimester abortion. She was taken to an emergency room but died from shock several hours later on January 19.

Much more is on record about today's second death. Like the deaths of Jacqueline Smith and Barbara Lofrumento, the story of 27-year-old Angela Sanchez involves an illegal abortion and attempts to hide the body. The difference is that Alicia Hannah's abortion clinic was operating openly and would appear to be just another apparently safe and legal clinic.

On January 19, 1993, Angela went to Clinica Feminina de la Comunidad with two of her four children: 12-year-old Maria and 2-year-old Victor. Angela's family is adamant that Angela wasn't seeking an abortion. They said that she was excited about the pregnancy and was hoping it would be a girl so Maria would have a sister. Angela's sister Celia said that someone from the facility had called Angela, telling her to come in for a consultation about the pregnancy.

Maria and Victor waited for their mother in the lobby. A clinic staffer approached Maria and suggested that she take the car and drive Victor home. Maria protested that she was too young to drive. The children continued to wait for their mother.

At around noon, a staffer took the children to lunch. When they returned to the clinic, Angela's car was gone, and Maria was told that her mother had gone to another clinic. The children continued to wait, but when their mother failed to appear Maria finally called her uncle, Hemiberto Sanchez, who took them home with him.

By 10:00, Angela's family was frantic, and Celia took Maria to the clinic to look for the missing woman. When they arrived, they saw Angela's car. Maria jumped out of her aunt's pickup truck and ran to the car. There she saw her mother lying on the ground. Maria asked two women from the clinic, who were standing nearby, what had happened to her mother, and they told her, "She's dead." 

Sobbing, Maria clung to and kissed her mother while the two women from the clinic told Celia that a man had shoved Angela from a car and they were just now picking her up. One of the women, Alicia Ruiz Hanna, who operated the facility, told Maria that her mother had just come knocking on the door, then collapsed.

Celia put her sister's stiffened body in the back of her truck and flagged down a policeman, who led her and Maria to a hospital. There, Celia was told that her sister had been dead for several hours.

After a prolonged investigation, and Hanna's jailhouse conversion to Christianity, the full story finally emerged. Hanna, who had been passing herself off as a doctor and performing abortions at the facility, had given Angela an injection to induce abortion. Angela stopped breathing, and staffers attempted to revive her. One of them even tried to call 911, but Hanna told her employee, "No, I'll save her -- we'll get in trouble" and hung up the phone because she feared that she would go to jail and lose her children if it was discovered that she was running the clinic illegally. She and the other woman had be planning to put Angela's stiffening body into the trunk of her own car and abandon the vehicle in Tijuana.

Hanna's clinic was tied up with abortionist Nicholas George Braemer. Hanna had opened a business, under the name of C.J. Professional Management Co., on February 4, 1992, as a limited partnership with Braemer. Braemer said that he'd run a "family planning practice" there for four or five months, up until May or June, having sublet the space from Hanna, who was also running Family Health and Weight Control Center at the location. "When I disassociated with the clinic, I expected my name would go off the door because the name is registered to me." He made a formal complaint to the medical board about the lack of a name change after his departure from the facility. However, the clinic itself was evidently never licensed.

Hanna had originally used doctors to perform the abortions but eventually started doing them herself as a cost-cutting measure.

In December 1994, Hanna was convicted of second-degree murder for Angela's death. She was sentenced to 16 years to life.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chicago, 1912: A Serial Offender's First Victim

On January 17, 1912, 38-year-old homemaker Minnie Miller died at Columbus Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated on January 2 by Dr. Charles W. Klinetop. Klintop was identified by Coroner's Verdict on January 26. Minnie's husband Julius is the one who identified Klinetop as the guilty party, and Minnie also named Klinetop in her deathbed statement..

Minnie Miller_Inter_Ocean_Tue__Feb_20__1912_.jpgWhile Klinetop was awaiting trial -- which was delayed due to a crowded docket -- in Minnie's death, a woman called the police from Lake Shore Hospital, reporting that there was a woman there "dying from an abortion." The police suspected that Klinetop was involved, but before they arrived at the hospital the woman, identified as Grace Smith, had been spirited away under mysterious circumstances.

Klinetop was also implicated in the 1917 abortion death ofEdna Lamb and the 1923 abortion death of Lydia Nelson.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Equally Deadly Abortions

On January 15, 1915, 22-year-old Margaret Jenickes died in Chicago. Somebody tipped off the coroner that there was something fishy about Margaret's death. "Mourners over the girl's body were surprised by a visit from Coroner's Physician Springer. He performed an autopsy and changed the death report from dilation of the heart to peritonitis." The coroner's office declared that the infection had been caused by an abortion presumably perpetrated by Dr. C.A. Erickson. Erickson was charged with murder; a man named Joseph Martin was also held for manslaughter. Though Erickson was indicted on February 1, the case never went to trial because the men were exonerated by a Grand Jury. No other suspect in Margaret's death is mentioned in my sources. I've been unable to determine why Erickson was a suspect.

On January 15, 1907, 24-year-old housekeeper Sarah Cushing died in Wesley Hospital in Chicago, from septicemia caused by a criminal abortion perpetrated on December 29 at the home of a midwife named Gertrude Plenz, who was arrested on January 24, and held by the coroner's jury. Mrs. Plenz was also arrested in the abortion death of Margaret McCarthy in 1904.

Christella Forte, age 16, screamed, convulsed, and went into cardiac arrest 27 hours after instillation of saline for an abortion. at New Centre Hospital in Detroit on January 14, 1986. She died without ever expelling the 23-week fetus.The concentrated salt solution that had been injected into Christella's uterus to kill the fetus got into her bloodstream, poisoning her and causing cardiac arrest. What is particularly disgusting about Christella's death is how utterly needless it was: saline abortions had been discredited as far too dangerous for over a decade. The documents surrounding her death do not explain why her abortionist chose an outdated, high-risk procedure for his young patient.

Thirty-eight-year-old Pamela A. Wainwright and her husband had two children living at home, one of whom had Down Syndrome. Pamela was admitted to Shallowford Community Hospital in Dunwoody, Georgia on January 15, 1987, for an abortion and tubal ligation. Pamela was 11 weeks pregnant. Pamela was taken to the operating room for her surgery the next day. The abortion and tubal ligation were to be performed by Dr. Wendell Phillips.  Phillips placed a needle into Pamela's abdomen to pump in carbon dioxide. He did not ensure proper placement of the needle. Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into her abdomen, he pumped it into her bloodstream. Pamela died almost immediately from cardiac arrest, due to vapor lock in her heart.

Eurice Agbagaa, a 26-year-old immigrant from Ghana, went to Abram Zelikman for a safe, legal abortionon January 7, 1989. Zelikman estimated the pregnancy as 11 to 12 12 weeks. He performed the abortion at about 1pm, then sent Eurice to the recovery room. Over the next 2 1/2 hours, Eurice bled so heavily that the receptionist, Yolanda Penalzer, became alarmed and asked Zelikman to do something. Zelikman told her that the bleeding was normal and that she should put an ice bag on the patient. He then left the facility, leaving Yolada to care for the patients in recovery. Yolanda continued to be concerned about Eurice's bleeding, and tried repeatedly to reach Zelikman at his home, but couldn't contact him. Finally she called an ambulance. The ambulance crew found Yolanda performing CPR on Eurice, who was in shock. They were able to restore her breathing and transport her to a hospital, where an emergency hysterectomy was done. It was determined that Eurice had actually been at least 19 weeks pregnant. Eurice had a perforated uterus and severed abdominal artery. Eurice survived the surgery and was put on life support, but remained in a coma until her death in the early morning of January 15.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Three Criminal Deaths and One Safe-n-Legal

Minnie Wittenborn died Thursday evening, January 13, 1880, either from a miscarriage or from an abortion perpetrated by an unidentified person. Though Dr. Charles H. McCallister was known to have tended to Minnie after the miscarriage or abortion, he was chastised only for his failure to properly treat Marie by failing to remove the placenta that she had retained.

On January 13, 1911, 27-year-old homemaker Rauha Wilen died at Chicago's Augusta Hospital of peritonitis caused by an abortion. Midwife Mary Rominel was arrested and indicted by a grand jury.

Dr. Arthur L. Blunt
On January 13, 1915, 23-year-old motion picture actress Beulah Rehm died atWesley Hospital after an abortion perpetrated at Dr. Arthur L. Blunt's Chicago practice. Beulah had been at the Plymouth Hotel when she took ill on Christmas Eve. Her doctor, Dr. Andre Stapler, sent her to the hospital. Stapler and other staff were suspicious and questioned Beulah about the cause of her problems. She admitted to Springer, and then to police, that she had gone to Blunt's West Harrison Street practice three times during the week of December 13 for abortion attempts. Blunt was brought to the hospital, where he was identified by Beulah as her abortionist. blunt denied ever having seen Beulah before. Blunt was held by the Coroner but the case never went to trial. Blunt had committed the abortion on Beulah while still out on bail for the 1913 abortion death of Frances Odochowski.

Christin Gilbert
Christin Gilbert, a 19-year-old woman with Down syndrome, was brought from Texas to George Tiller'sWichita abortion facility for a presumably safe and legal late abortion on January 10, 2005. Christin was legally incompetent, unable to give her consent. Like all Tiller late abortion patients, ostensibly so sick that their pregnancies endanger their lives or health, Christin spent the bulk of her time during the abortion process at a motel, in the care of her family. She would be brought back to Tiller's facility each day for procedures to kill the fetus and dilate her cervix, then returned to the motel and the care of her family.

On January 12, Tiller's staff diagnosed Christin as being "dehydrated". She was given IV fluids then sent back to the motel. She had numerous episodes of vomiting, and lost consciousness several times. Rather than call an ambulance or take her to the hospital, Christin's family waited until morning and took her to Tiller's clinic.
There she went into cardiac arrest. Tiller employee Marguerite Reed called 911, falsely stating that Christin was alert and awake when she had actually already gone into cardiac arrest.

Leroy Carhart
Ambulance staff arrived and found Dr. Leroy Carhart performing CPR so ineptly that they didn't even realize that he was a doctor. The rescue workers resuscitated Christin, then transported her to the hospital. She was pumped full of antibiotics to try to treat the underlying sepsis that evidently had caused the cardiac arrest, but to no avail. She died that day of systemic organ failure.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Fatal Work of Doctors, 1900 - 1980

On January 12, 1900, Mrs. Ida Henry, age 26, died at the home she shared with Dr. Paulina Bechtel, from complications of an abortion Bechtel had performed on her there that day. Bechtel, who said that she'd been practicing medicine for 18 years, was held by the Coroner's Jury. An undertaker had embalmed Ida's body prior to a post-mortem examination. He was censured for this compromising of evidence that would be found in the body, but was not charged with any crime. Bechtel had already been tried in the October 3, 1895 abortion death of Mrs. Kittie Bassett. She was also implicated in the death of Barbara Shelgren shortly after Ida's death. Bechtel went on to kill Mary Thorning in 1911.

On January 12, 1909, Florence Wright, a 34-year-old Black woman born in Kentucky, died at Wesley Hospital in Chicago from nitrous oxide asphyxiation while being treated for complications of an illegal abortion perpetrated on January 3, 1909. Midwife Louisa Achtenberg, a white woman, was held without bail for the crime of murder by abortion. She was indicted for murder but the source document doesn't indicate that there was a trial. Achtenberg appears to have been implicated as well in the abortion deaths of Dora Swan in 1907, Violet McCormick in 1921, and Madelyn Anderson in 1924.

Shirley Williams was 30 years old when she underwent a safe and legal abortion in January of 1980. She suffered from infection and hemorrhage after her abortion. On January 12, 1980, she was pronounced dead from hemorrhage.

Former criminal abortionist Milan Vuitch (pictured) had been operating his clinic without a license for two years when 32-year-old Jeannie English came to him for a safe and legal abortion on January 12, 1980, the same day Shirley Williams died. Vuitch administered general anesthesia for Jeannie, and she never woke up. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she died. When Vuitch was investigated, it was discovered that he kept patients overnight in his home (an unlicensed facility) which he designated "The Annexe." Inspectors also noted repeated violations of medical standards regarding sanitation and anesthesia. Vuitch also admitted during another case that he had lacked hospital admitting privileges since 1963. Vuitch was also responsible for the 1974 abortion death of 17-year-old Wilma Harris. He is one of three abortionists I know of who started out as criminal abortionists with clean records -- no patient deaths attributed to them -- who went on to kill two patient by performing the supposedly safer legal abortions. They are Jesse Ketchum (Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner) and Benjamin Munson (Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth).

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Two Chicago Deaths, Early 20th Century

On January 10, 1907, homemaker Ellen White, a 36-year-old Irish immigrant, died of shock and hemorrhage in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated about a week before Christmas. A midwife named Emma Watchek was arrested in the death.

On January 10, 1913, 31-year-old homemaker Lizzie Orenstein died at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by a person who was never identified.

Four Criminal Deaths in Chicago

On January 10, 1907, homemaker Ellen White, a 36-year-old Irish immigrant, died of shock and hemorrhage in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated about a week before Christmas. A midwife named Emma Watchek was arrested in the death. Ellen's abortion was unusual in that it was not performed by a physician.

On January 10, 1913, 31-year-old homemaker Lizzie Orenstein died at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by a person who was never identified.

On January 10, 1917, 23-year-old clerk Tillie Vrzal died at Chicago's Frances Willard Hospital from peritonitis because of an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator. 

Marie O'Malley, age 36, died on January 10, 1942 after an abortion blamed on notorious Chicago abortionist Dr. Emil Gleitsman, age 76.
Marie, a mother of six, had gone to Gleitsman's office with two friends on January 5. Gleitsman insisted that he had only been treating her for peritonitis for an abortion she'd already undergone before coming to him. However, two other women that Gleitsman performed abortions on testified that he had indeed perpetrated the fatal abortion, for which she'd paid $50.
While awaiting trial for Marie's death, Gleitsman was also held culpable during an inquest into the abortion death of a woman I call Maggie Doe

He was convicted in murder in Marie's death and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Gleitsman appealed on the grounds that he'd had an incompetent attorney, but the court ruled that he'd used the same lawyer before and thus had plenty of opportunity to judge him incompetent prior to the trail in Marie's death.
Gleitsman was also implicated in the abortion deaths of .
Lucille van Iderstine, Jeanette Reder, and Mary Colbert.