Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Illegal Abortion Deaths, 1887 - 1982

Deadly Secrets in Florida, 1983

On January 4, 1983, Albert Payne got a phone call from a family friend, Debbie Manning, who worked at the emergency room at a Miami hospital. Debbie gave Albert some shocking news: His 33-year-old wife, Shirley Yvonne Payne, mother of their three children ages 3 to 12, was dead. She had bled to death from an abortion.

"No way my wife is pregnant," Albert had responded. He called the day care center. Shirley had never showed up to pick up the children.

Shirley had undergone what she expected to be a safe and legal abortion at Woman's Care Center in Miami. She was 16-18 weeks pregnant. Shirley suffered a perforated uterus. Dr. Hipolito Barreiro made a frantic call to another doctor he knew, Nsibide Ipke, who had a practice 10 blocks from the clinic, wanting Ipke to come over and fill out clinic forms. "You've got to come sign. I'm not licensed."

Ipke, who said that he'd believed Barreiro to be licensed, went to the clinic to see what was going on and found Barreiro trying to attend to Shirley before calling an ambulance. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they reportedly found Shirley with an IV in her arm, lying on a couch, bleeding heavily.

Shirley arrived at the hospital in critical condition due to delay of transfer. An emergency hysterectomy was performed to try to save Shirley's life, but she bled to death in surgery. She was the second patient from that clinic to die in less than three weeks, and the fourth to die in less than four years.

Ruth Montero, Myrta Baptiste, Maura Morales, and Shirley Payne all died from abortions at the clinic, owned by Hipolito Barreiro. Trained in Argentina and West Africa, but not licensed in U.S. Barreiro evidently perpetrated Shirley's fatal abortion without documenting this fact on her clinic records.

After Shirley's death, authorities lame ted that they were powerless to oversee abortion facilities in Florida. "We have no authority to look into sanitary conditions or whether a clinic's location is near a hospital," a licensing and certification official told a reporter for Florida Today. A clinic could only be investigated in the event of a complaint or a patient death, the official said, and that the only permissible grounds for state action would be if the abortion had been done by somebody other than a licensed physician.

While authorities told reporters that greater state oversight could protect women from unsavory abortion clinics, the clinic owners indicated that such a law would be a form of anti-abortion harassment. The Florida Abortion Council, an organization of abortion clinic owners, had gotten a US district court to strike down a 1980 Florida law that would have allowed state oversight.

While asserting that state oversight wasn't needed, FLAC representative Patricia Baird Windle said that FLAC had denied membership to Women's Care Clinic because of patient deaths in August of 1979 and 1981.

Chicago Deaths, 1924 and 1921

On January 4, 1924, 28-year-old Elizabeth Strobl died in Chicago's Columbus Hospital from complications of an illegal abortion performed that day. Mrs. Anna Wenzig, whose profession is not given, was arrested January 15 for Elizabeth's death.

On January 4, 1921, 21-year-old Jennie Chubb died in her Chicago home from complications of an abortion performed that day. The coroner identified Veronica Rypcznski as the person responsible for Jennie's death. Veronica's profession is not mentioned in the source.

Third Time was Fatal, 1887

Bertie Hammaremiller, age 19, had lived with her mother on Langdon Street in Chicago. She already had one child to 19-year-old Fred C. Dethloff. On January 4, 1887 Bertie died from a botched abortion. Dethloff, who admitted that this was the third time he'd helped Bertie to abort two other pregnancies with medications in the three years they'd been together, was put on trial for his life. I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Oregon in 1985, Missouri in 1966

Safe and Legal in Oregon, 1984

Loretta Morton was 16 years old when she underwent a legal abortion in December of 1983. She was sent home with birth control pills. On January 3, 1984, Loretta was at home, and having trouble breathing. Her mother called for an ambulance. The ambulance crew assessed Loretta, decided she was stable, and left. They were called back ten minutes later because Loretta had lost consciousness.

The crew rushed Loretta to a hospital, but attempts to resuscitate her were in vain. Within an hour of having lost consciousness, she was dead. An autopsy showed that she had died from a pulmonary embolism from the abortion.

A Fatal Abortifacient, 1866

An inquest was held in St. Louis, Missouri, regarding the January 3, 1866 death of 23-year-old Aurora Heaton.

Aurora had lived in a rural area wiht her mother and stepfather until about six weeks prior to her death. She moved to St. Louis, as did "a young Scotchman named Isaac McDonald," with whom Aurora had evidently been keeping company prior to the move. Aurora told Isaac that she believed that she was pregnant, so he bought something at a drug store and gave it to her prior to returning to college.

The two corresponded, with Aurora's lamentation that the abortifacient drugs hadn't done their job. She went to a pharmacy and bought oil of cedar, another folk abortifacient. She took a one-ounce dose during the evening of January 2. Later that night she went into convulsions. She died shortly after midnight.

A postmortem examination found the poison still in her stomach -- and that contrary to her beliefs, Aurora had not actually been pregnant.

Safe and Legal in New York, 1970

"Amy" was 35 years old when she took advantage of New York's new law allowing outpatient abortion-on-demand, somewhere in the state of New York on December 24, 1970. She was 14 weeks pregnant. During the abortion, Amy suffered from a massive pulmonary embolism. Efforts to save her life finally failed, and she died on January 2, 1971, leaving behind two children.

Though Amy was the first woman identified as an abortion victim in 1971, she wasn't the last. Other women to die that year include Cassandra BleavinsJanet ForsterDoris GrantBetty Hines"Annie" Roe"Andrea" Roe"Anita" Roe"April" Roe"Audrey" Roe"Barbara" Roe"Beth" Roe"Monica" Roe"Roseann" Roe"Sandra" Roe"Tammy" Roe"Vicki" RoeLaSandra RussCarole SchanerMargaret Smith, and Kathryn Strong.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Retroactively Safe Abortion

Retroactively Safe and Legal

"Sophia," age 19, traveled from Youngstown, Ohio, to Duquesne, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 27, 1969 to have an abortion performed by a Dr. Benjamin King. Sophia was a 19-year-old freshman at Ohio State University. She had gotten King's contact information from her boyfriend, who was also 19 years old. King put out word about his services on college campuses in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Sophia's boyfriend accompanied her to King's office. They made a down payment toward the $300 fee for the abortion. The young couple returned to Youngstown, where Sophia was admitted to South Side Hospital on December 29. She died the following day. King had perforated her cervix, causing both infection and hemorrhage.

Police had Sophia's boyfriend contact King, saying he had the rest of the money. When King came to collect, he was arrested. Though convicted and sentenced to prison, King's attorney won his freedom by citing the Roe vs. Wade decision striking down the abortion law.

A Possible Lay Abortionist in Chicago

On December 30, 1924, 21-year-old Agnes Nazar, an immigrant from Persia (modern-day Iran), died at Chicago's St. Joseph's Hospital from an abortion performed earlier that day. On January 6, 1925, Rogie Hatal was held by the coroner as the guilty abortionist. Hatal's profession is not listed. Mike Nazar, her husband, was arrested as an accessory, as was Sarah Babian. Hatal was indicted for felony murder on February 15, 1925. 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.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Planned Parenthood Medical Abortion and a Midwife in Chicago

Death Drugs from Planned Parenthood, 2003

Hoa Thuy "Vivian" Tran, like Holly Patterson, got abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood. Vivian,a 22-year-old teaching student from Fountain Valley, California age 22, followed the medical abortion protocol on December 23, 2003 after getting the drugs at the Costa Mesa, California Planned Parenthood.

On December 29, 2003, Vivian was vacationing with friends at a Las Vegas hotel and fell ill. She was rushed to a local hospital, where staff tried for 40 minutes to revive her, to no avail.

The autopsy showed that Vivian had died of sepsis caused by Clostridium sordelli bacteria in her uterus. Clostridium sordellii is a rare bacterium that can cause sudden severe toxic shock syndrome in previously healthy people.

Vivian‘s husband is suing the drug company, Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernadino Counties, and The Population Council Inc., in Orange County Superior Court. VIvian's death left him to raise their 5-year-old daughter alone.

Other women identified as having died of infection deaths after RU-486 deaths in the Los Angeles area: Chanelle Bryant, and Oriane Shevin. Chanelle got her abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood, and Oriane and Vivian got theirs from National Abortion Federation members.

A Midwife's Work in Chicago, 1907

On December 29, 1907, 19-year-old Marcie Mayer died in St. Elizabeth's hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Mary Bing, a midwife, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to Joliet. A man named John Mansfield was also held by the coroner's jury, but acquitted by the judge. Marcie's abortion was atypical in that it was not performed by a physician.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mystery Abortionist in Chicago, 1921

On December 28, 1921, 30-year-old housekeeper Belle Keehn died at the Chicago Lying-In Hospital from lung abscesses and septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by an unknown doctor on or about November 27.

Documents are unclear as to how it was determined that the perpetrator was a doctor. The hospital was a reputable facility, not a seedy abortionarium, so Belle would have received superior care as doctors tried to save her life.

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.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A 1915 Abortion Death I Just Learned About

I stumbled across information about the following abortion death while looking for additional information on the death of Rose Kulamer.

In August of 1915, Dr. J. A. Williams of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania was summoned to the Pittsburgh home of 41-year-old midwife Marie Treylt to provide care for a sick woman.

Upon assessing the woman, 27-year-old Margaret McCreary of Hickory, Pennsylvania, Williams admitted her to Ohio Valley Hospital. Margaret died there on August 21. Four nurses at the hospital told police that Williams had indeed admitted Margaret, telling them to give her medication if she was in pain but providing no other care. No other doctor treated Margaret, the nurses said.

News clipping of headshot of a youngish-looking white woman wearing a big, pale hat
Police sought out Treytl, and found her nearly smothering in a hiding place between two mattresses in the home of someone identified in news coverage only as A. Mentzer. Treytl told police that Margaret had some to her house on August 17, seeking shelter. The midwife insisted that she had not perpetrated an abortion, but that Margaret had taken ill and she had summoned Dr. Williams to care for her.

Treylt's 17-year-old daughter, Adeline,told police that she wasn't home when Margaret had come to the house. Police, however, believed that she had guilty knowledge. Witness Bessie Hays told police that Adeline had come to her house asking her to tell police that Margaret had been staying at the Hays home. Bessie ordered Adeline out of her house.

The Treylt family servant, 18-year-old Marie Mentzer,told police that Margaret had actually come to the house on August 14. I have been unable to determine if the servant was a relative of the A. Mentzer in whose home the elder Treylt had been found.

All four parties were brought before the coroner. The doctor and the two younger women were released on bail, but Mrs. Treylt, already awaiting a grand jury action in another abortion case, was held without bail.

Mrs. Treylt would go on to be implicated in the 1918 abortion death of Rose Kulamer


  • "Three Women and Doctor Held for Death of Girl," Pittsburgh Press, Aug. 23, 1915
  • "Four Arrested As Result of Girl's Death," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 23, 1915
  • "Coroner Holds Four After Woman's Death," Pittsburgh Daily Post, Aug. 24, 1915
  • "Mrs. Treytl is in Jail," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 24, 1915

Second Deaths Each for a Doctor and a Midwife

A Doctor's Second Dead Patient, 1932

In late December of 1932, 20-year-old schoolteacher Myrtle Gardner of Four Oaks, North Carolina checked into a Raleigh motel room with her brother-in-law, George D. Clifton. The two presented themselves as a married couple.The following day, the two went to the home of Mrs. Carrie C. Forsythe, where they were to meet 45-year-old Dr. Mike Roberson, of Durham, for an abortion.

After the abortion, Mrytle took ill. Clifton took her to a hospital, where she was admitted under the name Mrs. George Clifton. She died from septic infection caused by an incomplete abortion on the evening of December 26. Dr. P. G. Fox reported her death to the police after Mrytle gave a deathbed statement at the hospital to him, another doctor, and a nurse.

Mrs. Forsythe, age 63 and described as "a gray-haired, middle-aged Raleigh woman," was also charged with murder in Myrtle's death. She was convicted and sentenced to 2 to 3 years for counseling and procuring the abortion. She collapsed and had to be carried to her cell after hearing the sentence. She spent the night "in a highly hysterical condition. Mrs. Forsythe had been charged previously as an accessory to abortion. Clifton was charged as an accessory in Myrtle's death as well.

Roberson was originally charged with first degree murder for Myrtle's death, but the charge was reduced to second-degree murder. Roberson's wife provided his alibi, saying that he was at home sick the night Myrtle's abortion was perpetrated. His defense also asserted that the prosecution had not proved that Myrtle had actually been pregnant.

Roberson pleaded nolo contendere and was given a 3 to five year prison sentence. The medical board revoked his license, but successfully convinced the court to suspend his prison sentence with the stipulation that he never practice medicine again, both on the grounds that he'd no longer be a danger if he stopped doing abortions and on the grounds that he was suffering a heart ailment and thus would not fare well in prison.

This was Roberson's fourth arrest on abortion charges. He had been convicted in the 1928 abortion death of Irma Robinson, but won a new trial on appeal.

A Midwife's Second Dead Patient, 1918

Rose Kulamer's husband, John, said that on Saturday, November 30, 1918, she'd told him that she'd been to see “a woman in the West End Pgh.” who had used “a rubber tube” to cause an abortion. She was taken to Columbia Hospital in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania by ambulance on Monday, December 2.

According to Dr. Sidney A. Chalfant, 33-year-old Rose denied an abortion on admission, but later admitted that she and a friend had gone to a woman on Pittsburgh's South Side for an abortion. Her uterus was enlarged to three months, her cervix was dilated to admit two fingers, and a large piece of cotton, that had evidently been present “for some time,” was in her vagina.

Rose was taken to the operating room, where the dead three- to four-month fetus was removed and her cervix was packed with gauze. The next day surgery was performed to remove the placenta.

Over the next four to five days, Rose's temperature fell to normal, but then it started to rise again. Rose reported pain in her lower left leg from old inflamed varicose veins. Her temperature rose and stayed elevated for about two weeks, then fell and remained normal for about five days.

On Christmas morning, Rose seemed fine, but around midnight on Christmas night Chalfant was called in because Rose's condition had taken a sudden downturn. He arrived to find that she had vomited and been incontinent in both her bowels and bladder. She was unconscious, with a weak, irregular pulse. Chalfant diagnosed a pulmonary embolism and remained with Rose for about an hour, during which she seemed to be improving. But the next time Chalfant checked on her, she was showing signs of brain damage from an embolism. She held on until about 1 p.m. December 26. She left five children motherless.

News clipping headshot of a youngish white woman wearing a tall, pale-colored hat
Dr. Charles Schildecker performed the autopsy in the hospital morgue. Rose, 5'6” and 175 pounds, showed no external marks of injury. However, her fallopian tubes and ovaries were enlarged and gangrenous, especially on the left. The lining of her uterus was inflamed, gangrenous, and decomposed. Her pelvic veins were filled with septic thrombi. All of her pelvic tissues were highly inflamed, showing signs of recent pregnancy. Schildecker determined that the cause of death had been septicemia from an abortion. The coroner's jury recommended that the person responsible, the mysterious woman on the South Side, be identified and arrested.

Police identified the mystery woman as midwife Marie Treytl. At the time of Rose's death, another of Treytl's patients was in critical condition herself as a result of an abortion. Treytl had also been implicated in the 1915 abortion death of Margaret McCreary.

Treytl had previously been implicated in the 1915 abortion death of Margaret McCreary.

Friday, December 23, 2016

From Doctors in New York to a Lover in Michigan

Safe and Legal in New York, 1970

"Kimberly" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. Kimberly was 25 years old and 18 weeks pregnant when she underwent a safe, legal abortion under the new law, in New York City on December 23, 1970. During the abortion, she went into cardiac arrest and died, leaving behind two children.

The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to "Kimberly," these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:

One of a String of Dr. Brewer's Dead, Oklahoma, 1931

Newspaper clipping of a bald, middle-aged white man wearing round black spectacles, in 3/4 profile and with a grim facial expression
Dr. Guy E. Brewer
On June 7, 1935, Dr. Guy E. Brewer pleaded guilty to six counts of manslaughter for the deaths of six women who died from complications of abortions he had perpetrated. He was sentenced to serve six consecutive four-year terms. He spent his incarceration working in the prison hospital. One of those young women was Myrtle Rose, age 21, of Ponca City, Oklahoma, on December 23, 1931. The other women include Hermoine Fowler, Ruby Ford, Doris Jones, Elizabeth Shaw, and Wanda Lee Gray.

Brewer was sentenced to six four-year sentences, to run concurrently, for six abortion deaths. The likely reason that he got such a light sentence was his extreme popularity for his benevolence in putting local young men through college. So beloved was Brewer that one victim's husband was fired in retaliation for reporting his wife's death to the police.

Body Dumped by New York Physician, 1934

On Christmas day of 1934, the nude body of a young woman was found under a pile of leaves in a thicket near a highway south of New York City. Eventually the date of death was determined to be December 23.

News clipping headshot of a young white woman with blonde hair coiffed in a 1930s style
Loretta Wilson
Laura and Joseph Devine, whose 19-year-old daughter, Loretta Wilson, had been missing since December 19, contacted authorities and were able to positively identify the body. An autopsy revealed that she had bled to death from complications of an abortion

Loretta had left home at noon on the 19th, telling the landlady that she was going to see a doctor. Her husband of two years, William, knew better. Though initially he'd denied even knowing that Loretta had been pregnant, he later said he'd paid Dr. John H. Becker Jr., age 52, $55 for the abortion. He added that his wife's friend, Kay Dinger, had been present when the transaction took place.

Becker admitted to having been paid $2 for examining Loretta on December 17, but denied perpetrating the abortion. He said that she was supposed to return on the 18th but failed to show up. However, his assertion that he'd not seen Loretta after the 17th was challenged by a witness who picked Becker out of a lineup of seven men as the one he'd seen standing by a car near the area where Loretta's body was found.

Becker was found guilty and sentenced to between 18 months and three years in Sing-Sing.

Fatal Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1909

"Sadie," identified in the source document as "Mrs. D," was 39 years old in November of 1909 when she either had a miscarriage or an illegal abortion. Five weeks later, on December 21, she was admitted to Cook County Hospital. She was vomiting and obviously very ill. Her pulse was 108, her respirations 28, her temperature 100 degrees.

The next day her temperature had fallen to 97.6, and her pulse and respirations had increased to 132 and 30, respectively. For reasons the document doesn't provide, she endured slightly over two hours of surgery during which surgeons removed both of her Fallopian tubes, drained her pelvic cavity, then curetted her uterus and packed it with alcohol gauze. The surgery sent her into shock and she died 14 hours later, either on December 22 or December 23.

Dead at her Lover's Hands, 1885

Harry McDowell began calling at the home of Dr. Truman Sawdy of Howard City, about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to visit Dr. Sawdy's 21-year-old daughter, Sylvia. McDowell usually came on Sundays and in the evening, and also corresponded with Sylvia.

On December 10, 1885, Sylvia went to Grand Rapids by train, ostensibly to visit McDowell's mother. Dr. Sawdy heard nothing more from or about his daughter until the morning of Christmas Eve, when McDowell's father came to him, saying that he'd gotten a telegram or telephone call from his son. The senior McDowell said that Harry had told him that Sylvia was very sick and wanted her mother, Cornelia, to go to her.

Dr. Sawdy read the next day in the newspaper that his daughter was dead.

It came out in the trial that in November, Sylvia had consulted with Drs. Bodle, Hake, and Bradish, indicating that she was pregnant. Evidence indicated that McDowell had performed an abortion on Sylvia on December 23, and that she died that day. McDowell was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years.