Thursday, April 27, 2017

Doctors' Fatal Handiwork, 1990 and 1871

Bled to Death in Front of her Children, Ohio, 1990

B&W high school yearbook photo of a smiling white teenage girl with long hair parted in the middle
Sandra Milton
On April 27, 1990, 28-year-old divorcee Sandra Milton underwent an abortion, performed by Dr. Carl Armstrong at Toledo Medical Services in Ohio. (Armstrong is John Roe 67 in Lime 5.) Neither her ex husband nor her parents had known that she was pregnant.

Sandra's abortion was performed at 10 a.m., and she was discharged shortly thereafter for the 90-minute drive home to Sandusky. The babysitter stayed with Sandra and her three children, ages 10, 7, and 5, for three hours as the young mother slipped in and out of consciousness and suffered pain and abdominal swelling. Twice the alarmed babysitter called the clinic, but was told that the symptoms were normal. The third time the babysitter called the clinic, she got no response at all, and summoned an ambulance. Sandra was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital at 6:01 p.m..

The medical examiner found a one-inch uterine perforation. Her abdomen was full of blood. She had bled to death internally.


A Cut Throat and a Fatal Abortion, New Hampshire, 1871

Dr. Charles P. Wood admitted that Elvira Woodward had come to his house in Manchester, New Hampshire, on April 1 and remained there until her death on April 27, 1871. He said that she'd expelled a dead fetus on April 3, and that she suffered from puerperal fever. Elvira's condition deteriorated. She died on April 27, at about 2:30 PM, at Wood's house.

At some point as she lay dying, Elvira suffered a cut throat which led her to bleed massively. Witnesses said that the wound was a self-inflicted suicide attempt that Elvira had made even though she was clearly already dying.

A post-mortem examination left no doubt that Elvira had died from abortion complications. However, a question arose as to when, how, and by whom the abortion was perpetrated. Elvira's sister, who had visited her on her deathbed, insisted that she hadn't known about the abortion. A defense witness, Elvira's landlady, claimed that a Dr. McCooms performed an abortion on Elvira and provided her with an abortifacient.

Dr. Wood was convicted of performing the fatal abortion on Elvira. It is unclear how the prosecutor or the jury identified him, from among all the doctors who had attended Elvira, as the guilty party. Still, Elvira's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Doctors, a Midwife, and "Uncle Billy"

Oklahoma, 1937: A Midwife's Fatal Handiwork

A glamorous headshot of a beautiful young woman with short, dark hair looking over her shoulder into the camera with her large, wide-set eyes
Merl Williams
On April 24, 1937, Merl Williams of Watonga, Oklahoma, died of peritonitis. She was 21 years old, a worker in a poultry packing plant. Her death was attributed to a botched abortion.

A midwife, 57-year-old. Cordelia Moore, was charged with abortion murder. An investigation found evidence that Moore, formerly a registered nurse, had perpetrated hundreds of abortions in her home in Longdale, Oklahoma.

After her arrest, Moore "unworriedly set her glasses on the end of her nose and continued her quilting in the county jail." Her husband, John, actually got up in his cell and jigged when a jaunty tune came on the radio.

W. C. Mouse, a railroad engineer, testified that he had taken Merl to Moore's 3-room farm house on April 11, not knowing the reason for the visit. He said only that he had heard Merl ask Moore, "Will it be dangerous?" The state also gathered 14 additional witnesses in the case against Moore, including women swearing under oath that Moore had done abortions on them. The prosecutors were also investigating the possible abortion death of a married woman a few years previously.

Cordelia Moore was tried for the crime; her husband, John, was arrested but released. I have been unable to determine that outcome of any trial in Merl's death.


Oklahoma City, 1932: Two Docs' Deadly Spree

Poor qualilty profile shot of a middle-aged white man with eyeglasses.
Dr. J. W. Eisiminger
Virginia Lee Wyckoff, a University of Oklahoma student, age 21, died from complications of an abortion on April 24, 1932 Hers was one of a string of deaths in the city that year. Dr. J.W. Eisiminger, an osteopath, was tried and convicted of murder in Virginia's death. He admitted to having treated her in his office on April 3, but said that he didn't believe she was pregnant. Nevertheless, Virginia spent several days in a private home where Eisiminger kept recovering abortion patients under the care of Mrs. Luther Bryant Price. Dr. Richard Thacker, who had an abortion patient of his own die on April 24, 1932, also used Mrs. Price's home as a recovery center for his abortion patients.

Virginia was transferred from Mrs. Prices's home to Oklahoma City General Hospital, where she died of septicemia, first having told doctors there that Eisiminger had performed the fatal abortion.. A deathbed statement absolving Eisiminger was proven to be a forgery.

Eisiminger was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder in her abortion death. The sentence was later reduced to 15 years.
A white man of about 60 years of age, with a very high forehead, large nose, and grim facial expression
Dr. Richard Thacker
Thacker's trial for the April 15, 1932 abortion death of Ruth Hall brought out testimony concerning the death April 24 death of 25-year-old Lennis May Roach and of other patients, including Robbie Lou Thompson, and Nancy Lee.

Mrs. Roach had come to Thacker's office several times, he admitted. Thacker said that she had been in poor health and emaciated, and had a white discharge, indicative of infection, from her vagina. She also, Thacker said, had pains in her abdomen. Thacker said that he treated her with a tonic and with antiseptic tampons.

He adamantly denied that he had performed an abortion on her. However, other witnesses, including Mrs. Roach's husband, testified that Thacker had indeed performed an abortion on Mrs. Roach, causing her death. Thacker was only prosecuted for Ruth Hall's death and was sentenced to life in prison. This is probably why he wasn't prosecuted for any of the other deaths. He died in prison in 1937.


Chicago, 1920: An Unidentified Perpetrator

On April 24, 1920, Emma Shanahan died at Chicago's St. Anthony Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by a person who was not identified. Most abortionists in Chicago in that era were doctors or midwives, which makes it likely that Emma availed herself of one of these trained medical professionals.


 Hannibal, Illinois, 1893: Racist Coverage of an Abortion Death

An article on the death of 19-year-old Emma Hub underscores the racism of the time. It begins, "Uncle Billy Nickens, a well-known colored character of Hannibal [Illinois], was arrested there yesterday charged with causing the death of Emmy Hub by a criminal operation."

Emma was the daughter of Jacob Hub, a German shoemaker living just south of the Hannibal city limits. Jacob had expelled his daughter from the house due to "her wild habits", so she had moved in with a painter named Mathew Seoville.  Around April 15 of 1893, Emma took ill, and was tended by a Dr. Ebbits. Ebbits suspected an abortion and refused to treat Emma until she admitted to it. "She continued to grow worse until death relieved her suffering at 1 a.m. yesterday" -- that being April 24.

Emma had told Mathew Seoville and his wife that she had gone to Nickens' house, where he had used instruments on her to cause an abortion. She said that a girl from Illinois was also there for an abortion. Mathew had pressed Emma to write up a declaration.

The fatal abortion was reportedly Emma's second; the previous had been performed the previous October. She also had given birth to a child about two years earlier.  The article notes that Nickens was arrested, adding, "The negro has been brought up on similar charges before, but always managed to clear himself."

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chicago Doctors and Midwives, 1910-1923

Many physicians and midwives plied their trade as abortionists in early 20th century Chicago.

On April 22, 1923, 30-year-old Daisy Singerland died at Chicago's Robert Burns Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed earlier that day.  On June 1, 54-year-old Dr. James W. Lipscomb was indicted for felony murder in Daisy's death. I have been unable to determine the final outcome of the case.

On February 19, 1920, one of those midwives, 40-year-old Mary Simkus, evidently perpetrated an abortion on 28-year-old homemaker Sophia Krawczyk in the Krawczyk home.  After the abortion, Sophie took ill. Eventually she was taken to Cook County Hospital, where she died from sepsis on April 22.  Simka was indicted for Sophie's death, but for reasons I have been unable to determine the case never went to trial.

"Phyllis," identified in the source document as "Mrs. M.," was 46 years old when she had an abortion performed by a physician in Chicago on or around April 4, 1910.  The abortion was followed by pain, fever, and hemorrhage. On April 18, about two weeks after the abortion, she was admitted to Cook County Hospital with a pulse of 102, respirations of 24, and fever of 102. She was in a stupor upon admission, with her tongue dry and furred. Her abdomen was distended and tender. Her liver was enlarged. The lower lobe of her right lung had sounds indicating the presence of fluid.  That evening, Phyllis became delirious and had to be restrained to her bed. Staff were unable to record a pulse for her, but her temperature had risen to 102.4 and her respirations were a racing 50 per minute.  Phyllis died on April 22 from peritonitis and septic pneumonia.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pro-Choice Icon's Forgotton Victim

1970s photo of a 30-something white man in a classroom, wearing a white turtlenedk under a dark, double-breasted jacket and holding what looks like some sort of plastic medical instruments
Self-styled "Doctor" Harvey Karman
Nearly two decades before the "Mothers Day Massacre" pulled off with Kermit "House of Horrors" Gosnell in Philadelphia, 30-year-old Harvey Karman was working at the Clinical School of the Psychology Department of the University of California at Los Angeles, seeking a doctorate in psychology. He was not licensed to practice medicine.

The Abortion

Around early February of 1955, 26-year-old Joyce Johnson told her husband, Ben, that she was pregnant. They discussed an abortion. Somehow, the couple found out about Harvey's passion for abortion, and arranged for him to practice his hobby on Joyce. His fee was $150.

On April 6, 1955, Karman met Joyce in a motel room and, using a speculum, inserted a nutcracker into Joyce in order to perform an abortion. On April 8, Joyce's husband took her to St. Joseph's Hospital. She was examined by a Dr. Moss who diagnosed her as suffering from "an infected criminal abortion." The dead fetus was still in her uterus. She expelled it while at St. Joseph's.

On April 13, Joyce was transferred to General Hospital for specialized treatment. She died there on April 21. An autopsy was performed, and Joyce's death blamed on bronchial pneumonia brought on by the septic abortion.

Karman was arrested.

The Trial

During the trial, a photograph of the autopsy was available, but the district attorney didn't display it. He instead told the jury, "you can look at it up in the jury room if you are so inclined--it's an autopsy picture--I'm not going to show it to you because some people don't like to see things like that--she was 26 years old April 6th. She was a girl in good health. She was pregnant. She wanted to do something about having an abortion for this pregnancy."

The district attorney also told the jury, "Frankly, I don't know how you feel about this matter of abortion--it is a matter of difference of opinion. Some people say well, people can't afford it, it's all right to have an abortion. Some people say if the woman's health won't stand it it's all right to have an abortion. Our law says it's all right to have an abortion if her health is of such nature she can't have a baby. Some people think abortions are all right. Some people are absolutely against all of them. If you want to know the truth, I'm pretty much against all abortions myself, I think it's a terrible thing for a girl to be talked into this."

Harvey was convicted.

The Appeal

The appeals court found it "improper for the district attorney to express his personal belief as to all abortion," but noted that since the jury was admonished to ignore the comment Karman had no grounds for appeal in the fact that the DA made the comment.

Karman's defense called a Dr. Gilbert as an expert. He reviewed the autopsy report and medical records, an opined that Joyce did not die from a septic abortion. He was paid $150 for his testimony, ironically the same amount Joyce paid for the abortion.

The defense also appealed on the grounds that the the DA unduly prejudiced the jury by bringing out in cross-examining Karman that he'd been convicted previously of a felony. The appeals court ruled that this was proper impeachment of a witness.

Karman's defense further argued that Joyce's husband and friend were improperly granted immunity after they originally refused to testify.

Karman's defense also claimed that the prosecution failed to prove that the abortion wasn't necessary to save Joyce's life. But the appeals court found that the testimony of Joyce's husband and friend that Joyce had been in good health settled that matter. Of course, pure logic would prove that matter, since Joyce was seeking an illegal abortion from an amateur in a motel room. Had her life been in danger, an ob/gyn would have been able to admit her to a hospital and perform the abortion there.

An appeals court found that the district attorney's statement that what defendant did was "absolute butchery" was fair argument on the facts, and not an unduly prejudicious statement. It came out in the case that Joyce's husband was dating another woman and therefore had an interest in Joyce securing an abortion.

The Pardon

Though Karman had finished serving his sentence before Jerry Brown was sworn in as California Governor in 1975, Brown was enamored enough of Karman's work to issue him a pardon.

Joyce's abortion was unusual in that it was performed by an amateur, rather than by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions. However, it also stands out because Harvey Karman was treated like a real doctor by the abortion establishment. He was invited to train abortionists, and was celebrated by abortion advocates for having invented a suction cannula designed specifically for early abortions. Despite being an amateur, and despite the death of Johce Johnson and the fiasco in Philadelphia, on his death Karman was eulogized .as a champion of safe abortions.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Doctors and a Pharmacy Clerk

One of Three Deaths at Chicago Abortion Mill

A middle-aged white man wearing large eyeglasses
Dr. Dusan Zivkovic
Brenda Benton's survivors sued Biogenetics after her death, claiming that Dusan Zivkovic and/or V. Perez had performed a safe and legal abortion on her on March 13, 1987. She was placed under general anesthesia for the abortion. After she was discharged, Brenda developed fever, chills, and back pain.

The suit says that 35-year-old Brenda returned to Biogenetics to report these symptoms on March 27, and that Zivkovic examined Brenda and performed a D&C before transferring her to Martha Washington Hospital. There, Brenda's survivors say, Zivkovic called in other doctors for a consult. They then transferred Brenda to Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's hospital on April 6. She died there on April 20.

Her death was due to infection and "overwhelming septicemia." Brenda's family said that Zivkovic failed to failed to determine that Brenda had had an adverse reaction to drugs he'd given her, and failed to detect and respond to her medical emergency. An expert opinion on the case attributes Brenda's death to inappropriate follow-up, and septicemia leading to fatal complications. Brenda's death certificate attributed death to hepatic necrosis due to toxicity reaction to abortion anesthesia.

"Susanna Chisolm" (1975) and Synthia Dennard (1989) also died after abortions at Biogenetics.


Dillinger's Doc Does Fatal Abortion

Poor-quality newspaper photograph of a mostly bald, middle-aged white man, in profile
Dr. Clinton E. May
Dr. Clinton E. May had crossed paths with the law when he harbored John Dillinger. In an apparent attempt to keep a low profile, he relocated to California after his release and didn't bother to get licensed to practice medicine, but rather set up housekeeping, and an abortion practice, with a woman in San Francisco using the aliases Cy Dalton and Miss Ralston,

On April 12, 1939, a woman called St. Joseph's Hospital and anonymously told a doctor there that a woman had suffered uterine damage in an abortion. The doctor said to send the woman to the hospital immediately.

The woman, 30-year-old Doris Alexander, arrived at the hospital in a taxi. She was in critical condition. There, she told hospital staff, her husband, and the police about the abortion. Based on the information Doris had provided, police raided Clinton May's apartment the following day, finding a makeshift operating table, abundant surgical instruments typically used in abortions, and parts of a human fetus of about three or four months of gestation that was not Doris' fetus.

May was arrested and taken to the hospital, where Doris tentatively identified him. She never mentioned a woman being involved in the abortion. Doris died on April 20, and police arrested a woman named Frances Zoffel, whom they said was the mysterious "Miss Ralston."

May and Zoffel were charged with murder and conspiracy. May was convicted of second-degree murder, Zoffel of conspiracy. Zoffel was able to get a new trial on the grounds that she was not "Miss Ralston" and that there was no evidence linking her to May's practice, although she had been implicated in abortion rings in the past and would be implicated again in the future.


A Doctor When the Pills Didn't Work

In Seattle, Washington in February of 1933, Mary Agnes McNeil, a 22-year-old unmarried grocery store clerk, discovered that she was pregnant. Mary informed her boyfriend of the pregnancy, and he got her some pills supposed to cause an abortion, but they didn't work. She tried another round of different pills in March.

On April 8, Mary went to a nursing home operated by a nurse to ask about an abortion. The nurse informed the woman and her lover that Dr. E. T. Martin or another doctor would be able to perform an abortion.

On April 11, Mary's boyfriend went to Dr. Martin's office and consulted with him. On Dr. Martin's instructions, Mary's boyfriend brought her back the next morning, a Wednesday, for an examination. Mary was in Dr. Martin's office for about half an hour. Dr. Martin then told Mary's boyfriend that the total fee, including a stay at the nursing home until Saturday night, would be $75. He then instructed the boyfriend to take Mary to the nursing home, which he did that afternoon.

On Friday the 14th, Dr. Martin performed a curettage on Mary to remove the fetus. The nurse claimed that she had no idea what Dr. Martin was planning to do.

After the D&C, Mary became alarmingly ill. Dr. Martin said that he himself was not in proper physical condition to care for the patient, so he summoned a Dr. Templeton. Dr. Templeton evidently cared for Mary at the nursing home until April 19, a Wednesday, when he advised staff to transfer Mary to Virginia Mason hospital. She died the following morning.

Dr. Martin, with some corroboration from the nurse, said that Mary already had a rapid pulse and fever when she first consulted with him. He also said that she was bleeding vaginally already. Dr. Martin said that Mary had told him she'd missed three periods, taken abortifacients, had fallen, and had a chronic bowel condition.

Dr. Martin testified that he'd recommended hospitalization, but that Mary wanted to avoid the possible publicity surrounding a hospitalization. It was then that he'd decided to send her to the nursing home instead. He also testified that she'd been bleeding from the 12th until the 14th, when he'd performed a curretage. He said that this curretage was necessary to treat her fever and bleeding.

Dr. Martin was convicted of manslaughter in Mary's death, but the nurse was acquitted.


A Pharmacy Clerk's Fatal Work

On April 20, 1912, 19-year-old actress and newlywed Ruth Fox died at her Chicago residence from septic peritonitis caused by an abortion perpetrated, possibly there and on that day, by Frank J. Schwartz, a pharmacy clerk. He was arrested and held by the Coroner on May 2, and indicted by a Grand Jury on November 25, but the case never went to trial. Dr. Samuel T. Baldridge was arrested but exonerated after testimony at the coroner's inquest. It is unclear why, with all the physicians and midwives running thinly-veiled ads for abortion practices, Ruth instead went to somebody who had only marginal training in a medical field.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Anniversary: Hachamovitch's Deadly Clinics

Lou Ann Herron
Those insist that legalization of abortion is necessary to keep our daughters safe might want to speak to Lou Ann Herron's father, Mike Gibb, who silently wept in the courtroom as he listened to witnesses describe how his 33-year-old daughter bled to death on April 17, 1998  after a late abortion at the now defunct A-Z Women's Center.

Seven Ultrasounds

Medical assistant Sylvia Aragon wept on the witness stand as she said that Lou Ann's pregnancy was "too far along" for an abortion. The ultrasound Aragon did on April 9 showed a 26-week fetus, but Dr. John Biskind kept ordering more and more ultrasound scans to try to get one that would document the pregnancy as being early enough for the abortion to be legal. A total of seven ultrasounds were done before an estimate of 23 weeks was obtained the day prior to the abortion. 

Lou Ann's Pleas

The abortion was performed at 1:30 p.m. Biskind, his lawyer said, noted a small amount of blood on the sheets when he checked on Lou Ann after the abortion, but that he was not concerned because bleeding is normal after an abortion. Two medical assistants, however, testified that Lou Ann was very frightened about her condition as she lay in recovery. She became combative and anxious. She reported that her legs were going numb. She cried out in pain as she lay in a puddle of blood, begging to know what was wrong with her. These, emergency physician John Gallagher noted, are all clear signs of severe blood loss. 

Gallagher, who trains paramedics for the Phoenix Fire Department, said that the records he reviewed clearly indicated that Lou Ann's condition was life threatening and that Biskind should have recognized the severity of her injuries. Her medical records clearly indicated serious trouble at 1:25 p.m., 16 minutes after Lou Ann had been taken to the recovery room. Gallagher said that had he been treating Lou Ann, he would have ordered more IV fluids and blood immediately, and summoned an ambulance to take her to a hospital where she could be treated in a properly equipped operating room.

Instead of recognizing the danger his patient was in, Gallagher noted, Biskind instead tried to calm Lou Ann and reassure her that she would be "just fine." He tinkered with her IV (complaining that there was no qualified nurse on staff to do this), and left the building at around 3:45 p.m..

Clinic administrator Carole Stuart-Schadoff had a staffer page Biskind 25 minutes later when Lou Ann's condition worsened. Biskind did not return to the clinic, but told staff to call 911. Prosecutors estimate that by the time paramedics were summoned, Lou Ann had lost 2 to 3 liters of blood.

What the Medics Found

When the rescue crew arrived, Phoenix fire captain Biran Tobin testified, Lou Ann appeared to be dead. Nobody at the clinic seemed aware of how grave her condition was, he said, and nobody seemed to be helping her in any way. The only thing that anybody had done for her was put on an oxygen mask. 

Evidently somebody had removed Lou Ann's IV, because there wasn't one in place to allow life-saving medications to be administered. Nobody had put in an endotracheal tube and started "bagging" her to ensure that her body was getting enough oxygen to sustain life. "I very quickly felt that there wasn't a lot of competent medical care going on at the time," Tobin said.

Staff told rescuers that Lou Ann's vital signs were pulse 100, and blood pressure 90/50. "It was very difficult for me to believe that they could get the vital signs of a woman who, even as we walked in the door, looked really dead," Tobin testified.

Lou Ann was pronounced dead a the hospital.

Biskind Held Accountable

John Biskind
Biskind surrendered his license to practice medicine in Arizona after Lou Ann's death in order to stop an ongoing medical board investigation of the circumstances and his handling of the case. However, this was not enough to stop the police investigation. Both Biskind and the clinic's administrator, Carol Stuard-Schadoff, were charged with homicide.  A jury of seven women and one man immediately agreed that the defendants were guilty. It was simply a matter of deciding which charges they were guilty of: the manslaughter charge, or the lesser charge of negligent homicide. It took them 4 1/2 hours to conclude that Biskind was guilty of manslaughter, Stuart-Schadoff of negligent homicide.

Only after the trial was over did members of the jury learn of Biskind's history of misconduct, including the previous death of abortion patient Lisa Bardsley. The jury foreman said that this information "makes me feel better about my decision."

One guilty party, however, was not held accountable: The clinic's owner, Moshe Hachamovitch. Hachamovitch himself performed fatal abortions on Tanya WilliamsonLuz Rodriguez, and Christina GoessweinJammie Garcia died after a safe and legal abortion at Hachamovitch's Texas facility. That's a total of six dead patients either at his hands or under his supervision.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

What Were They Hiding About Cree Erwin's Death?

Mega-kudos to the folks at Operation Rescue for the amazing research they've been doing into the death of Cree Erwin-Sheppard last Independence Day Weekend. Finally we are able to compare the redacted autopsy report originally provided by the Medical Examiner's office with the original, unredacted copy.

Let's look at exactly what they chose to remove.

On the cover page, under "Cause of Death," the redaction suddenly begins in the middle of the sentence.

The words redacted were "and uterine perforation status post early vacuum aspiration and intrauterine contraception placement." Thus, the procedure performed at the Planned Parenthood was blacked out.

Even more telling is what they did't redact: "Complications of intrauterine pregnancy, including pulmonayr emboli related to uterine vein thrombosis." In other words, findings that could blame Cree's death on pregnancy were left visible. Only the words that make it clear that this pregnancy had been tampered with are blocked out.

Moving on to the "Investigative Summary."

The first and second redactions are bewildering to me.

The first redaction is Cree's obstetric history, "G2P1." This is an abbreviation for "Gravida 2 Para 1," or "Pregnant Twice, Given Birth Once."

Since Cree had already aborted this pregnancy, her obstetric history should have been G2P1A1 (Gravida 2 Para 1 Abortus 1). Omitting the A1 would imply that Cree had been pregnant, rather than post-abortive, at the time of her death.

The second redaction is "There is a past medical history of pregnancy induced hypertension with a previous pregnancy." That information, coupled with giving Cree's obstetric history as "G2P1," could be used to imply that Cree had died during her second pregnancy due to pregnancy-related hypertension.

The final information redacted from this paragraph is: "There was reported history of a recent early vacuum aspiration and uterine contraception placement on 06/30/2016. On July 2, 2016 Cree presented to the emergency department with persistent pelvic pain and new-onset nausa and vomiting, and was discharged with instructions for outpatient follow-up." Thus, the fact that Cree had undergone an abortion is hidden.

The next redaction is in the section describing the internal examination of the chest and abdomen.

The words "Approximately 250 cc of blood are in the retrouterine pouch," are blacked out. In other words, the Medical Examiner's office didn't want anybody to know that there was over 8 ounces of blood in the area behind Cree's uterus.

This is another piece of evidence that officials were deliberately hiding the fact that Cree had suffered a fatal abortion injury.

Moving along to the specific description of Cree's internal reproductive organs.

Right after the words, "The endrmetrial cavity is of normal postpartum configuration," they redacted "and is occupied by clotted blood. An intrauterine contraceptive device embedded within the clot material is identified."

So the fact that the inside of Cree's uterus was normal didn't warrant redaction, but the fact that her uterus was full of clotted blood surrounding an IUD was deemed worthy of blacking out. Again, the fact that a procedure, rather than the pregnancy it self, caused Cree's death is being swept under the rug.

Another sentence is allowed to start unredacted: "The myometrium appears thickened." I'm not clear on why that was left in. The following is then blacked out: "consistent with the reported history of recent pregnancy. A 4.0 cm full-thickness perforation of the posterior lower uterine segment is identified."

So the fact that Cree's uterus was consistent with a reported recent pregnancy is allowed to stand, but the fact that she had a 1 1/5-inch full-thickness tear in the lower back area of her uterus was redacted. The injury is being covered up.

Moving along to the "Examination and Investigative Findings," once again we see that "Complications of intrauterine pregnancy" isn't blacked out. Information allowing Cree's death to be blamed on the pregnancy is conveniently provided.

What's blacked out is, once again, evidence that it wasn't the pregnancy itself that killed Cree Erwin. The hole in her uterus, and the fact that it is related to a recent vacuum aspiration (suction abortion) and recent IUD placement, are redacted. Thus, the fact that tampering with the pregnancy caused a fatal injury is hidden from public view.

The final redactions in the autopsy report seem like adding insult to injury.

The fact that Cree's urine tested positive for methadone and morphine is included. Thus, Cree is being presented as a drug addict.


What's redacted is this:

"Query of the Michigan Automated Prescription System does not return a record of a prescription for methadone in the decedent's name." The authorities also redacted, "Review of avaiable medical records does not disclose a record of methadone administration during admission to the emergency department."

Cree would only have been receiving prescriptions for methadone if she was in treatment for addiction. Thus, the fact that she had no recorded history of drug addiction was hidden. The fact that drugs were in her system was not redacted.

The final blow is a not a redaction, but an omission: Cree had been administered morphine during her trip to the emergency room. The combination of omission and redaction strike me as an attempt to paint Cree as a drug addict.

Through redaction and ommission, the Medical Examiner's office did little short of accuse Cree of being addicted to street drugs, and blamed her death not on an injury sustained during an abortion/IUD insertion, but on the fact that she had been pregnant.






Dr. Thacker's Bad Month and Other Cases

Safe and Legal in Texas, 1997

Sixteen-year-old Maureen Espinoza underwent a safe, legal abortion at a doctor's office in San Antonio on March 28, 1997. During the abortion, the doctor punctured Maureen's uterus, but didn't note this in her medical records or say anything to her about it, indicating that he simply didn't notice. Maureen was sent home. On April 3, she went to the emergency room at Northeast Baptist Hospital. Over the ensuing days, doctors there performed two surgeries to try to save her life, but to no avail. She died on April 15, 1997.


The Case that Sent Thacker to Prison, 1932

Headshot of a middle-aged white man with a high forehead, large nose, and grim facial expression
Dr. Richard Thacker
Dr. Richard E. Thacker maintained an office and operating rooms in the Terminal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In the early part of April, 1932, 21-year-old Ruth Hall went with her friends, Helen Wright and Margy Brown, to Thacker's practice. Ruth's friends stayed in the waiting room while Thacker took Ruth back into his exam room for five or ten minutes. Thacker told Ruth to return at noon the following day, April 6, a Wednesday.

Ruth, Margy, and Helen returned as instructed, bringing Ruth's roommate, Elma Benne, with them. Helen went into the procedure room with Ruth. Helen said she saw Ruth give Thacker money. Ruth then got onto the table as instructed by Thacker, Helen said, then he used a long, slender instrument and packed her with gauze.

Helen and Ruth collected their friends and went back to the boarding house where Ruth lived. Helen remained with her friend for four hours, leaving her in the care of her roommate. Helen returned to the boarding house on Thursday, and spent the night with Ruth and Elma. Ruth took ill in the night. Elma said that her friend "suffered quite a bit." Both Helen and Elma observed blood on the bed at the time. Helen said goodbye to Ruth at 10:00 Friday morning. She never saw her friend again.

On Saturday, Ruth's brother came to bring his sister to their parents' house, as was their routine. Mrs. Hall wept on the witness stand as she told the story of her daughter's death. She reported that Ruth was sick when she arrived at about 4 or 5 p.m. It wasn't until roughly 11:00 that Ruth finally told her mother why she was ill. Mrs. Hall called Thacker and scolded him into coming to her home to care for Ruth. Once he was there, she also had to scold him into sterilizing his instruments and washing his hands before performing a follow-up procedure.

Mrs. Hall reported that Thacker told her, "This is something I certainly do not approve of; I told the girl this when she came to the office and wanted help, but I could not turn her down. It seems like the more I try to help people lately the most of them get into worse trouble." He also said that if his wife knew he was performing abortions "she would kill me. I feel like sometimes going and jumping in the river, and if I had I would be better off."

Ruth's mother called Thacker again on Friday, April 15, but by the time he arrived, it was too late.

After Ruth's death, Thacker fled to his brother-in-law's ranch near Amarillo, Texas. He then relocated to Springdale, Arkansas, where he was finally apprehended.

Over Thacker's understandable, albeit unsustainable, objections, the court permitted a number of witnesses to testify that after Ruth's visit to his practice, Thacker had performed fatal abortions on Robbie Lou Thompson, Lennis May Roach, and Nancy Joe Lee.

It took the jury of twelve men, eight of them fathers, only a little more than one hour and only four ballots to find Thacker guilty of murder. He appealed the conviction, but the appeal was denied, and Thacker, age 60, was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor. He died of a heart attack shortly after midnight on April 1, 1937.


Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1916

Homemaker Margaret Waldon, age 33, of Burley Avenue, Chicago died in South Chicago Hospital on April 15, 1916. She had been brought there by private ambulance the previous week. Her death was attributed to an illegal abortion.