The first death is one of a large batch that blew away my presumption that illegal abortionists would be quicly identified and shut down if they injured or killed women. Dr. Lucy Hagenow accumulated a shameful number of dead patients while spending very little time even in trouble, much less in prison, considering the toll her practice was taking.
Mrs. Dr. Hagenow
“Mrs. Dr. Hagenow, a former resident of San Jose, who gained unenviable notoriety in connection with the death of Louise Derchow in San Francisco about a year ago, is again in similar trouble.”On June 26, 1888, 16-year-old Annie Dorris died at Dr. Lucy Hagenow's "maternity hospital" in San Francisco. She was buried the following day based on a death certificate filed by Dr. Xavier Dodel, who claimed that he'd been called to tend to her at her home for chills and fever and had transferred her to Hagenow's care about two days before her death, when his treatment was not successful.
The baby's father was a young man named Cox who drowned in the San Francisco Bay the Christmas after Annie's death.
“A autopsy held on the remains which were disinterred for the purpose, showed that death was the result of an abortion.”
During the coroner's inquest, Annie's mother, Augusta, testified that in late July, Annie had come to her, "Troubled with what she thought was some female disease." Augusta read in a German newspaper that “Mrs. Hagenow's hospital on Twelfth street was a good place,” so she took Annie there. “Mrs. Hagenow said that she would cure the girl for $30 and took her into a private room to examine her.” After Annie emerged, Hagenow charged her mother an additional $10, saying that she had damaged an instrument due to Anna's inability to lie still.
Three days later, Annie took to her bed, complaining of pains in her legs and back. According to Annie's father, Frederick, Hagenow came to the house to check on Annie. Hagenow took the girl into a side room, from which Frederick heard Annie cry out. Hagenow emerged and said that a "man doctor" had to be called in due to inflammation of the bowels and high fever. Hagenow left and returned with Dodel. The two of them went into the room with Annie, and again Frederick heard his daughter cry out. Dodel emerged from the room with bloody hands. Upon his recommendation, Annie was removed to the "Maternity Home," where she died on the third day.
Augusta said that Hagenow's sister, Mrs. Seibert, told her that she'd taken her daughter to a “hell hole” and that “other persons had been murdered there.” Anna Hickert, who operated a bakery, said that she relayed to Hagenow that Seibert had told her that Hagenow ran “a murderous den,” but Hagenow had told Hickert not to relay this because her sister would deny having ever said any such thing.
As Augusta testified about her daughter's death, she “cried pitifully.” After being given time to regain her composure, Augusta, with her husband by her side, was asked about her encounter with Hagenow at the coroner's office. Augusta said that Hagenow told her to denied ever meeting her, or she (Hagenow) would end up doing 25 or 30 years at San Quentin. The coroner had chased Hagenow from the room.
|Dr. Lucy Hagenow|
Three trials in the case led to three hung juries.
Hagenow was also implicated in the San Francisco abortion deaths of Abbia Richards, as well as for the suspicious death of Emma Dep at Hagenow's maternity home.
Hagenow relocated to Chicago, a city more tolerant of abortion quackery, and began piling up dead bodies there as well. She was implicated in numerous abortion deaths there, including:
- 1892: Sophia Kuhn and Emily Anderson
- 1896: Hannah Carlson
- 1899: Marie Hecht
- 1905: May Putnam
- 1906: Lola Madison
- 1907: Annie Horvatich (Hagenow was sentenced to prison for Annie's death, then released in 1924.)
- 1925: Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, and Elizabeth Welter
- 1926: Mary Moorehead
Hagenow, the Associated Press noted, was nearly deaf and "may not have heard. She muttered something, and shambled laboriously from the room."
As near as I can determine, Hagenow died September 26, 1933, in Norwood Park, Cook County, Illinois. Her occupation on her death record was given as "midwife."
Deaths of her patients must have been a common occurrence, since undertaker W. J. Freckleton, sent by one husband to collect the body of his wife for burial, testified that he had complained to Hagenow how difficult it was to get the body down the narrow staircase; Hagenow had replied that her usual undertaker never had any trouble getting bodies out.
Clearly, laws against abortion can only protect women if the local authorities care enough to enforce them.
Safe and Legal in Florida
I hope that abortion-rights supporters will grasp that legalization did not have the desired effect of getting rid of quackery. Why should it? If authorities are willing to look the other way when a criminal abortionist kills a patient, why would they address legal abortionists? Killing an abortion patient is no longer a crime, but merely a civil matter not worth the abortion lobby having any concern about. Case in point:
Pamela Colson, age 31, was 12 weeks pregnant when friends drive her to Women's Medical Services in Pensacola, Florida, for a safe and legal abortion June 26, 1994.
Pamela bled heavily during the drive home. According to her friends, Pamela became unresponsive, so they stopped at a motel. Two passers-by did CPR while Pamela's friends called for an ambulance. Pamela was taken to a hospital where she died after an emergency hysterectomy.
Her autopsy showed: bloodstained fluid in chest and peritoneal space, and "extensive hematoma formation in the pelvic area with the peritoneum denuded from the left gutter area caudually." The surgeon who performed an emergency hysterectomy, trying to save Pamela's life, had removed her uterus at the site of the laceration "so that the laceration was a portion of the incision made to remove the uterus." Her uterus showed extensive hemorrhage and blood clots. Her uterine artery was also injured. Several of Pamela's ribs were fractured, apparently during attempts to resuscitate her; this is common in even properly performed CPR.
The cause of death was given as "irreversible shock from blood loss due to a perforated uterus occurring at the time of an elective abortion." William Keene was tentatively identified as having performed the abortion.
The Sad Truth
I know that supporters of abortion rights will assert that although legal abortion deaths are indeed tragic, there would be more such deaths were abortion illegal. This idea doesn't hold water. One need only look at the trends in abortion deaths to see:
Abortion mortality plummetted not due to legalization, but due to the introduction of antibiotics and blood transfusions to the medical arsenal. Legalization of abortion-on-demand didn't even produce a blip in the existing downward trend.
It seems that the primary benificiaries of legalization were the abortion practitioners themselves, who no longer risked prison for quackery. Pamela Colson is just as dead as Annie Dorris, but Lucy Hagenow faced major legal troubles that would be unthinkable in today's safe-and-legal era.