Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Four Different Scenarios over Half a Century

Typical Chicago Abortion Death, 1921

On May 4, 1921, 37-year-old Hungarian immigrant Katherine Falesch died in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated by 37-year-old midwife Eva Lorch. Lorch was arraigned and held on $3000 bond, but there is no indication that the case went any further. If she were indeed guilty, this would have been typical of Chicago abortionists of the era, since there were an abundance of physicians and midwives plying that trade there at the time.

An Early Beneficiary of New York's Abortion Progressivism, 1972

In February of 1972, 21-year-old "Robin" traveled from Massachusetts to New York for a first trimester abortion. She underwent the procedure and returned home. About two weeks later, she started suffering abdominal pain. A month later, she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and hepatitis. Three months after her abortion, on May 4, 1972, Robin died, leaving two children motherless. Public health officials attributed her death to the abortion.

Hiding, not Stopping, the Deadly Bleeding, 1976

Shortly after noon on May 4, 1976, 29-year-old Maria Gomez underwent a safe and legal vacuum abortion at Atlantic Family Medical Clinic in Los Angeles County. Within an hour and a half she had bled to death.  The coroner report indicates that Dr. John Blodgett claimed that Maria must have bled to death from an "old" cervical cut. The autopsy found otherwise. Maria's lacerated and gashed uterus still contained the severed head of her unborn baby, and more than a quart of blood was pooled in her abdomen. Maria's lacerations had not been sutured, but her vagina had been packed with gauze, thus hiding but not stopping the bleeding.

"Like a Haunted House," 1987

Twenty-four-year-old Patricia Ann King went to Dean H. Diment in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a safe and legal abortion on May 4, 1987. Patricia went into cardiac arrest after being injected with anesthetic. Paramedics arrived at Diment's Statewide Clinic and found the place so unclean that they could have written their names in the dust. Diment told them that he had injected Neo-Synephrine and sodium bicarbonate into Patricia's heart but no one had performed CPR or made any other attempt to revive her. She had been in arrest for 20 minutes. Paramedics could not revive her.

Diment's associates at Statewide Clinic had a history of legal troubles. The medical director, Jimmie C. Tooney, had pleaded guilty in 1973 of writing narcotics prescriptions for a convicted drug dealer. Administrator William R. Cloud had been charged with conspiracy to commit illegal abortion in the early 1970's but had the charge dropped after abortion was legalized by Roe v. Wade.

Statewide Clinic advertised that it was "licensed by the state," but at the time of Patricia's death, abortion clinics were not regulated by the state of Oklahoma. Statewide had not been inspected since the attorney general had declared state oversight unconstitutional in 1984. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Why Aren't Pro-Choice Groups Doing "Stings" on Abortion Clinics?

I find it very telling that pro-choice groups so often find time to do "sting" operations on pregnancy resource centers to make sure they aren't annoying abortion-minded women. If they care so much, why are't they putting some of their efforts into "stings" on abortion clinics like Virginia Health Group in Fairfax, VA. Here are a couple of excerpts from a report on an state inspection on May 5, 2016.

This one is wider than the others because I wanted to include the name and address of the facility:


A state inspector asked a staff member to demonstrate that the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) was working properly. This is a vital piece of emergency equipment, absolutely necessary to save the life of a patient whose heart might stop due to anesthesia mishaps or excessive bleeding.

When the staff member turned on the AED, it said, "Place electrodes, replace battery."

Maybe I'm just being an anti-choice fanatic insisting that abortion clinics adhere to nit-picky standards, but keeping fresh batteries in the emergency defibrillator seems like a no-brainer.

 In this section, an inspector overhears two staff members discussing the toilet being stopped up in the patient bathroom. One of them comments, "That happens all the time in that bathroom."

One staff member put on gloves, carried a plunger from the staff bathroom to the patient bathroom, and plunged the toilet. The staff person then carried the plunger down the hall to put it back in the staff bathroom. The staff member took off the gloves but did not wash hands. He or she only used hand sanitizer.

That staff person, who had still not washed hands or put on clean scrubs after plunging a toilet went into a procedure room to hold a patient's hand during an abortion.

During this patient's care, a staff member was wearing gloves "visibly soiled with gloves." Another staff member put pills for the patient into that staff member's gloved hand.

I administer medications at a home for a person with developmental disabilities. We do not touch the person's medications. Most medications are in blister packs, and we pop the pills directly into a medication cup. If this person gets an OTC drug such as aspirin, the pills are tipped into a medication cup. We don't touch them. Maybe I have unrealistically high standards for an abortion clinic, but I don't think touching the medications is appropriate at all, much less handling them with obviously soiled gloves. Surely the standards adhered to by residential service workers aren't too high a bar for medical care workers.

Moving right along.

The inspector went into the patient bathroom and saw boxes of patients' medical records. "One of the boxes had the top off, was lying on its side, and records were spilling out of the side of the box. The record storage area was accessible to anyone who entered the patient bathroom."

Again, I might have unrealistically high expectations, but this seems inappropriate to me. Not only could any random patient just sit on the toilet and browse through other patients' records, anybody with access to the patient restroom could put a patient's record into a large purse and remove it from the clinic entirely. Elsewhere in the inspection report a staff person tells inspectors that patient files are just stored in those boxes in the bathroom, in alphabetical order by patient name. How hard would it be for a patient to browse through to see if anybody she knows had had an abortion there?


This is actually from earlier in the report. It describes what the team of inspectors found when they first walked into the clinic.

The patient waiting area was dirty. "The carpet was dirty and had large dark stains in multiple areas. There was debris on the floor and black smudges on multiple areas on the walls. There were fifteen (15) chairs which were made of a black strap type cloth/elastic type material that could not be adequately cleaned or disinfected."

The procedure room is actually worse.

"[T]he cabinet doors were taped together with a micropore tape which was adhered to the cabinet doors. When the surveyor attempted to open the cabinet to view the contents, the door fell off. In the bottom of this cabinet was a blue chux (pad) which had debris and dried brown material (betadine) that had leaked all over the pad.

Next time you read a story about a "sting" operation on "phony clinics," ask yourself why there's so much concern about whether or not prolifers are annoying women, and no apparent concern about whether abortion clinics are actively endangering them.

A Mysterious Death in 1915

Mary Shvernieckas of Western Avenue in Chicago died on May 3, 1915 from complications of an abortion perpetrated by an unidentified person.

Aside from a sidebar in the May 29, 1915 Chicago Tribune including Mary among women who had died in Chicago so far that year, I've been unable to learn anything whatsoever about Mary. She is not even showing up in Chicago or Cook County death records.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Safe and Legal in 1985

1985: Hidden Injury, Lingering Death

The survivors of 29-year-old Kathleen Gilbert sued David Turow andWomen's Aid Clinic when she bled to death after her safe and legal abortionThe family accused Turow of performing an incomplete abortion, lacerating Kathleen's uterus, and failing to detect her injuries. She was sent home and continued to bleed and pass clots for a month before her death on May 2, 1985. Kathleen's death certificate confirms that Kathleen's death was due to hemorrhage from a perforated uterus.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Gruesome Tale, A Midwife's Work, and a Back-Alley Doctor

A Gruesome Family Secret from 1916

A poor-quality portrait from a newspaper showing a young white woman with large eyes and fine features, and thick dark hair
Maud Tabor Virgo
In November of 1915, Maud Tabor of Lawton, Michigan became the fifth wife of undertaker-turned-real estate salesman Joseph Virgo, who reportedly told Maud that he didn't want any children. The two of them had known each other for years and had been romantically involved prior to the wedding. But afterward, Joe and Maud evidently didn't hit it off very well, because on February 1, she returned home to Lawton, leaving her husband and her married name behind.

On May 1, 1916, a few months after the death of her father, 46-year-old Maud vanished. Stories circulated in town that Maud had gone to a western ranch for her health, that Maud was teaching in Salt Lake City, and that she was out west scouting out valuable mining property. Suspicions arose, since Maud had not taken leave of anybody and nobody got a letter or post card from her. Sarah refused to discuss the topic with neighbors, who dismissed this refusal as part of Sarah's eccentric personality.

Eventually her brother Walter began to tell people that Maud had died while out of town.

On November 20, 1919, Maud's sister, Florence, noticed that there was something under a pile of old shingles in the basement of the family home. She moved some shingles aside and saw that the object was a trunk. Grabbing it by the handle, she started to drag it into the middle of the cellar only to have the end pull off. Protruding from the end of the trunk was a human foot.

A sketch from a newspaper showing two white men opening a trunk containing what appears to be crumpled cloth
Opening the trunk
Florence immediately fled to a neighbor's house. The neighbor summoned the police, who opened the trunk and found a dead woman, clad in a white shirtwaist, black skirt, and white stockings. Doctors and undertakers examining the body found it to be in a remarkable state of preservation. It had, in fact, been embalmed. Even though the nose was missing, there was little doubt that the face was that of Maud. 

Both Walter and their mother were arrested. Sarah Tabor gave multiple stories about how Maud had died and about why she had kept the body in a trunk in the basement. The only consistent item was the date of death: May 1, 1916.

Investigators worked at untangling the tales and eventually concluded that either Maud's mother or her estranged husband had perpetrated an abortion on her, using chloroform as an anesthetic, and Maud had died during the process. They also arrested Virgo. 

Eventually Walter Tabor told police that his mother had confessed to him that she had perpetrated the abortion herself.  Eventually, Maud's mother was the only person tried in the case. Her first trial resulted in a hung jury after 36 hours of deliberation. They were stuck at a vote of 8 to 4 in favor of conviction. The second was dismissed due to lack of evidence. She had spent nearly all of her wealth on attorneys in order to keep her freedom. 

A Midwife in Chicago, 1925

On May 1, 1925, 26-year-old Mary Sayers died at a Chicago residence from a criminal abortion performed on her that day. Midwife Edna Marie Dietrich was arrested the following day.

A Stereotypical Back Alley Doctor, Kentucky, 1928

On Saturday, April 14, 1928, Dr. T. D. Goodman was called to see a young woman named Bessie Kouns. He found her in a great deal of pain, with considerable swelling and tenderness of the lower abdomen. He treated her for several days,  but her condition was not improving so on the 17th he had her admitted to Stephenson Hospital in Ashland, Kentucky. There, her condition continued to deteriorate. On April 24, the peritonitis had caused bowel obstruction, requiring surgery. Prior to the surgery, which Bessie did not expect to survive, she made a deathbed statement to Dr. Stephenson.

She told Stephenson that at 7:00 on a Saturday evening, she had gone to 60-year-old Dr. Henry C. Dorroh's office to keep an appointment for an abortion. Dorroh had been drinking and didn't at first recognize her. She reminded him of the appointment. He cussed and told her to get on the table. He approached her with an instrument that he dropped on the floor, then picked up and used on her. He "nearly killed her", Stephenson testified that Bessie said. Stephenson's testimony was supported by Mr. Watt Prichard, who was present at the time Bessie made her declaration.

Despite the surgery, Bessie died from septic peritonitis on May 1 at the age of 29.

When the case went to trial, Dorroh insisted that he had treated Bessie in February, but only for gonorrhea, and that the treatment might had caused an abortion had Bessie indeed been pregnant. The expert testimony was that the described treatment would indeed be appropriate for gonorrhea, but testimony was divided on whether it would cause an abortion.  Dorroh was found guilty by a jury that included six women, but his conviction was later set aside and a new trial ordered.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two Typical and Prolific Chicago Abortionists

On April 30, 1917, Mrs. Ruth Lemaire, age 24, died at West Side Hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. In her deathbed statement she implicated one of Chicago's many physician/abortionists, 50-year-old Dr. Lillian Hobbs. However, the coroner's jury did not place blame on Hobbs, and the case came to naught. Hobbs was later convicted of murder in the abortion deaths of Alda Christopherson and Ellen Matson.

On April 30, 1923, 29-year-old homemaker Emma Herod died in her home from an abortion performed there that day. Another Chicago many physician/abortionists, Dr. Emma J. Warren, age 53, was arrested for the death. On July 15, Warren was indicted for felony murder in Emma's death. Warren had already been implicated in the 1917 abortion death of 27-year-old Annie DeGroote.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Shipped Home in a Box, and the Receptionist's Additional Duties

1874: Shipped Home in a Coffin

Josephine "Josie" LeClear, age 24, had been living near St. John's School, a boys' school, in Manlius Village, New York for about two weeks, working in the culinary department. On Saturday, April 15, she went to Norwich but on April 29 "was sent back ... in a coffin and box from there, and accompanying the box was a medical certificate, saying that she died of no contagious disease."

Mrs. Copeland, the school matron, went to Norwich and reported "the situation of the corpse and other things surrounding it" were very suspicious. The coroners of the respective counties worked together to investigate Joesphine's death. 

Josie's body was in terrible shape, with her face and body were badly swollen and discolored, and she was oozing fluid from the mouth. When the doctor performing the autopsy opened her abdomen, a large amount of gas escaped. The intestines appeared normal, but the uterus was enlarged, punctured with a large hole at the top, and necrotic in patches. The cause of death was clearly an abortion.

Josie's brother Albert said that she had left home on a Saturday morning after a visit of about a week, saying that she was going to collect some back pay from a previous employer. He didn't see her again until her body was shipped to him in the box, with all the shipping fees paid but no indication of who had made arrangements for the macabre delivery. Nobody in the family had known, or would have guessed, that Josie was pregnant.

The investigators determined that Josie had taken very ill after her trip to Norwich, and was cared for by Dr. H. M. Smith and several other physicians who determined that she was suffering abortion complications and pressed her to identify the guilty parties. "She persistently refused to make any statement." On being informed that her death was inevitable, she identified her paramour and her abortionist. A friend or acquaintance who had been caring for Josie during her illness had been the one to obtain a coffin and arrange for shipment of her body. 

The doctor was not named in the news coverage, but was identified as "a resident practitioner of Hamilton, Madison County. His reputation is none the best, and he has boasted that he could do these things up very neatly."


1914: Languished for Two Days

On April 29, 1914, 37-year-old homemaker Mary Stepen died at Chicago's Rhodes Avenue Hospital from septicemia and hemorrhage due to an abortion perpetrated by midwife Anna Stanek. Mary, an immigrant from Bohemia, had languished in the hospital for two days before she died. Stanek was indicted on May 15, but the case never went to trial.

1986: Anesthesia by a Recptionist


A square logo with no images, just text: NAF / National Abortion Federation
Twenty-year-old homemaker Gloria Aponte went to National Abortion Federation member Hanan Rotem in Stamford, Connecticut, for a safe and legal abortion on April 29, 1986. A few hours after the abortion, Gloria was declared dead from hemorrhage at a nearby hospital. An investigation by health officials found that Rotem had failed to perform necessary blood tests and had permitted a receptionist with no medical training to administer anesthesia. Rotem had no hospital privileges and no emergency patient transfer agreement in place. For his fatal treatment of Gloria, he was fined a total of $2,000.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Deadly Midwife, Doctor, and Boyfriend

Mother-and-Daughter Midwife Team, Brooklyn, 1880

Mrs. Sophia Berghusen of Brooklyn died on April 28, 1880, under the care of the mother-and-daughter midwife team of Mrs. Mary Kaufmann and Miss Margaret "Maggie" Kaufmann. The coroner concluded that Sophia had died of abortion complications. Sophie had been found moribund at the Kaufmann house. Both the Kaufmann women were arrested and tried but acquitted, though the sources do not say what was lacking in the case against them.

Civil-Rights Activist Turned Abortionist, Chicago, 1973

A middle-aged balding Black man with eyeglasses and a bow tie
T.R. Mason Howard
Survivors of Julia Rogers, age 20, alleged that she underwent a safe and legal abortion performed by Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard (pictured) at his Friendship Medical Center in Chicago on April 21, 1973. Julia's death certificate states that her death April 28 at Tabernacle Hospital was due to "bronchopneumonia and generalized peritonitis complicating extensive necrotizing endometritis and myometritis with sealed perforation." In other words, she developed pneumonia on top of peritonitis. A hole had been poked in her uterus, causing an infection that made the muscle tissue of her uterus start to rot inside her. Evelyn Dudley and Dorothy Brown also died after abortions at Friendship Medical Center.

A Boyfriend and an Aquarium Tube, California, 19909

"Daisy," age 32, died on or shortly after April 28, 1990 after she let her boyfriend attempt a home abortion in California. Daisy was not a poor, ignorant woman. To the contrary, she was a systems analyst for a defense contractor. Daisy knew that abortion was legal and readily available. She had an appointment to abort her second-trimester pregnancy scheduled for April 30, 1990, at a local abortion clinic. But for some reason, Daisy didn't wait for her appointment. On April 28, she allowed her boyfriend to insert a plastic tube into her uterus in a home-abortion attempt. Daisy died of complications of that abortion.