Sunday, January 25, 2009

I find three new (to me) criminal abortion deaths

Gertrude Pitkanen (pictured), born in 1878 in Lincoln, Nebraska, completed her nurse's training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She moved to Butte in 1907, and was one of the first surgical nurses at St. James Community Hospital, assisting her husband, Dr. Gustavus Pitkanen. Dr. Pitkanen was an abortionist until he was jailed for sedition in 1917, whereupon his wife took up the curette.

Nurse Pitkanen was charged with the abortion deaths of Hilja Johnson, Violet Morse, and Margie Fraser. A woman who was a student nurse at St. James Hospital in Butte remembered Pitkanen's victims. "They died horrible deaths from infection," she told a reporter from the Montana Standard.

These three deaths have been added to the Cemetery of Choice.

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