Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Angel of Ashland, and the woman who died for his sins

On Saturday, December 8, 1956, 26-year-old Mary Davies of New York City arrived in the Ashland, Pennsylvania office of abortionist Dr. Robert Douglas Spencer (pictured). She was seeking an abortion.

As a physician, Spencer was typical of criminal abortionists. What was unusual about him was that rather than sneak the woman in through the back alley, Spencer plied his abortion trade openly.

According to Spencer, Mary was alone, and reported that she'd been bleeding for about two weeks. He didn't examine her, but gave her medication for pain and to stop the bleeding. He told her to return the following day for her abortion.

Mary returned at about 10 AM on the 9th. He administered 13 ccs. of Evipal in a 10% solution to induce anesthesia. "I injected that solution into the vein of the left arm and in ten seconds she was asleep."

Spencer said that the next thing he noticed was that Mary wasn't breathing. She also appeared blue. He injected five ccc. of "Metrozol" into her left leg. (The drug is spelled "Metrozol" in Spencer's written statement. However, my web searches for "Metrozol" turn up a veterinary medication used to treat skin diseases in fish. Spencer clearly meant Metrazol, a drug used as a respiratory and circulatory stimulant.) She didn't respond, so he gave her an additional five ccs. of "Metrozol", this time injecting the drug into a vein.

Mary still did not respond, so Spencer attempted to resuscitate her with oxygen. He called his assistant, Mildred Zettlemoyer, into the room to assist him. With Mary in Zettlemoyer's care, Spencer went to another part of the building to retrieve adrenaline. He gave Mary three injections of adrenaline.

Mary still was not responding, so Spencer had Zettlemoyer call the laboratory assistant, Steve Sekunda, and tell him to come to the office. Spencer put a breathing tube into Mary's throat, but had to work blind because the light on his scope wasn't working. He resumed artificial respiration, "and pulled on her tongue, but got no response." By the time Sekunda arrived, at around 11:30, Spencer had concluded that Mary was dead. The puzzled man concluded "that this patient died in my office from some heart disease."

Dr. Milton Helpern, chief medical examiner for New York City, was among the experts that testified in Spencer's trial for Mary's death. Helpern concluded that Mary had been pregnant, that the pregnancy had been terminated right before her death, and that she'd died from administration of a drug used for anesthesia for performing a D&C. Mary had been in good health prior to her death.

Patricia G. Miller, author of The Worst Of Times, asked another doctor, "Dr. Bert," who had practiced before legalization, to review news reports of Mary's death and speculate as to whether Mary would have died had abortion been legal.

"Dr. Bert" faulted Spencer for not having an assistant while he was administering general anesthesia. "In my view, to give a general anesthetic alone is below good medical care, even in those days." He speculated that Spencer had not had an assistant working with him due to the law against abortion -- an odd speculation, since Spencer was doing abortions quite openly, with at least one member of his staff present in the building. It's also an odd speculation considering how many legal abortionists have had patients die from anesthesia complications, either due to inadequate supervision of the anesthesia process or inadequate resuscitation efforts. Case in point is Laura Smith (pictured), who died on the abortion table in September of 2007 under the care of a doctor who had his receptionist assisting with patients under general anesthesia.

Spencer's widow, Eleanor, told Patricia Miller that her husband had been quite stricken by Mary Davies' death. He continued to perform abortions, however, along with his regular medical practice, up until the trial. He was acquitted on all counts, likely because it was impossible to prove that Mary hadn't either miscarried during those two weeks of bleeding prior to her appointment with Spencer, or been aborted by somebody else. No mention is made of any fetal remains being found in Mary's body or in Spencer's office.

Spencer briefly stopped doing abortions after the trial, "for a month or so," his widow said. But he resumed his business and eventually got entangled with a fellow named Harry Mace who set up a business for himself rounding up abortion patients and bringing them to Spencer. Spencer's widow lamented that Mace flooded Spencer with patients, pressuring him to rush through abortions. Spencer's health began to fail. He was arrested again, due to the attention from Mace's activities, but died before the case went to trial.

Mary Davies is the only woman known to have died from abortion related complications under Spencer's care. Spencer is estimated to have performed between 40,000 and 100,000 abortions.

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

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1 comment:

Joe said...

I may speak for a lot of people when I say that I find it absolutely horrific that a criminal abortionist is able to kill 40,000 to 100,000 human beings and basically get away with it. It shows that even when unborn children were "protected" (they really were not), they still were not treated as real human beings.

Can you imagine a hit man who could kill that many people and get away with it? Where were the law enforcement authorities in Pennsylvania while these horrors were being perpetrated?

Having read something of the very dreary history of abortion violence, I have continuously heard of criminal abortionists who killed hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands, and people stood by and let it happen.

If we are able in the future to prohibit the killing of unborn children, we will have to do a lot better than they did in the past in terms of law enforcement. The protection efforts in the past were completely inadequate. With a much more militant, aggressive and powerful abortionist movement in the future we will really have our work cut out for us if we expect to achieve full legal protection of unborn children.