Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A surprising discovery

I've been writing up the abortion cases from the Homicide in Chicago database. There I found a surprise. Dr. Amante Rongetti was implicated in the 1929 abortion death of Elizabeth Palumbo. Rongetti (then spelled "Amenti" Rongetti) had just been sentenced to die in the electric chair the year before for the criminal abortion death of Loretta Enders. Rongetti's attorney evidently was successful in his bid for a new trial. And it looks like Elizabeth Palumbo paid for this with her life.

Something I'm learning from writing up these cases is that both sides are being oversimplistic. The prochoicers mostly seem to be operating on the assumption that legalization took the quackery out of abortion by opening the field up to respectable physicians. Which we've seen hasn't exactly been the panacea it was supposed to be. But prolifers are being oversimplistic in thinking that just recriminalizing abortion will mean all the quacks get locked up. It was clear even to a jury that Rongetti had caused Loretta Enders' needless death, yet a year after they'd sentenced him to die for his crime, he was out and up to his old tricks.

We don't want to be locking up people who aren't guilty, but we also need to be sure that when the laws kick back in after Roe, that we also address cronyism (like the prosecutor's golfing buddy who beat the rap in spite of abundant evidence of his guilt).



For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

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6 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"The prochoicers mostly seem to be operating on the assumption that legalization took the quackery out of abortion by opening the field up to respectable physicians."

Not eliminate but minimize because it gives a manner for quacks to be addressed and dealt with.

Besides which you are making an assumption here that isn't supported. Just because Dr. Amante Rongetti lost two patients doesn't mean he was a quack. As you yourself have pointed out several times surgical mortality improved dramatically after antibiotics came into use.

GrannyGrump said...

If you read the Loretta Enders case, the jury found that he refused to care for her after he'd injured her. You might not fault him for that, but I do and so did the jury -- enough to recommend the death penalty.

Tlaloc said...

"If you read the Loretta Enders case, the jury found that he refused to care for her after he'd injured her."

True, of course he was granted a new trial. One has to wonder for what cause.

GrannyGrump said...

New trials tend to be for procedural things, not because of matters of fact.

Tlaloc said...

"New trials tend to be for procedural things, not because of matters of fact."

All depends, besides "procedural things" can be things like prosecutorial misconduct or evidence of jury bias or tampering. Things that do indeed bear heavily on whether the court finding was factual.

Of course it might have also been some trivial technicality. Don't know.

GrannyGrump said...

I would like to find out. I used to live near a large university library where I could go to delve into these things, but now I live in Bum****, and all we've got is a community college that doesn't have extensive microfilm collections.