Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1949: Attempt to cover up abortion death

On February 17, 1949, the battered body of Mrs. Roberta Shirley Danks, a 28-year-old war widow from Chicago, was found crumpled on a rural road near Chesterton, Indiana. She had bruises over her body and a deep gash on her head, but an autopsy revealed that these injuries had been sustained after her death, evidently to try to make Roberta appear to be the victim of a hit-and-run driver. She had actually died of peritonitis from a criminal abortion performed several days earlier.

An investigation found that Roberta had undergone an abortion, performed by a physician, in the basement of the Chicago home of 40-year-old housewife Olive Janes. Roberta had been on leave from her job as a switchboard operator at Roosevelt College in Chicago.

Roberta's boyfriend, 36-year-old James Manes, who had been involved with her for three years, said he hadn't seen her since February 6.

Janes was sentenced to 7 - 14 years for manslaughter, plus 5 - 10 years on two other abortion counts.

Dorothy's abortion was typical of criminal abortions 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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