Sunday, February 19, 2012

Two deaths in 1916

On February 19, 1916, homemaker Mary Peckman, age 24, died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. She refused to name her killer. This is something I've always had a hard time understanding. If somebody's quackery is costing you your life, why would you spend your last hours on earth protecting them at the cost of the safety of other women in situations like yours?

Some time in February, 1916, Mrs. Ruth Camp died from complications of an illegal abortion performed in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bennett Graff was found guilty of murder in Ruth's death, and sentenced to 11 - 13 years in prison. Graff protested "stoutly" and appealed the conviction. Graff was also charged in the death of another woman from an illegal abortion, but I've been unable to get any details of that case.


Kathy said...

There are a few reasons I can think of (though they're probably not very *logical*, unless viewed from a certain viewpoint) --

1) the abortionist was related to her, and she felt that it was incumbent upon her to protect him/her

2) the abortionist was an old and/or trusted friend, doctor, or midwife

3) the victim felt more culpable than the abortionist (perhaps she felt guilty because she *knew* she was killing *her* child, whereas the abortionist was just going along with her deadly desires)

4) perhaps she felt her death was a justifiable punishment for having killed her baby and/or perhaps for the circumstances in which the child was conceived

5) she may have felt it was a freak occurrence, or somehow medically her own fault, that the abortion harmed her and even led to her death, so that it wasn't the abortionist's "fault"

6) she may have felt that the abortionist was otherwise "a good person" or "a good doctor", and that it would be somehow better for the person to remain free than to be jailed for the crime (which she had requested, and perhaps had demanded or coerced the person into performing)

7) just as some post-abortive women today become *extremely* "pro-choice" because of their harrowing abortion experience, or lingering feelings from it, in an attempt to justify what they did (Abby Johnson springs to mind), she may have felt that jailing the abortionist would have amplified her own guilt in having sought the abortion in the first place.

I agree with you that it's not very logical, but justification often isn't logical.

Christina Dunigan said...

I've just been reflecting that really, this refusal to finger the guilty abortionist is the flip side of the "Oh no no no no! Dead broad OFF the table!" that we see with safe-n-legal abortion. Whether it's the dying woman or the "prochoice" organization, the person who has the power to protect vulnerable women chooses instead to protect the abortionist.

We know that the dynamic exists, and that we can not rely on "prochoice" people to actually fulfil their stated objective of women's safety. Regardless of abortion's legal status, it is simply always going to fall to the prolifers to protect the women.