Thursday, January 29, 2009

1936: Tipster alerts authorities to fatal abortion

Rose Lipner, age 32, mother of 2, died at Riverdale Hospital on January 29, 1936. Dr. Maxwell C. Katz, who lived at Riverdale (maternity) Hospital, which he operated, signed a death certificate indicating that Rose had been operated on for a tumor.

After the funeral, an anonymous caller notified police that the death was suspicious, and Rose was exhumed for an autopsy. The medical examiner determined that Rose had died from an abortion. Katz was arraigned for second-degree manslaughter. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't an easy thing to hide abortion deaths back when complicity in the cover-up could land you in prison as an accessory.

Rose's abortion was typical in that it was performed by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

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

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