Thursday, May 17, 2012

Illegal and Legal and All Just as Dead

Ad for Plenz's abortion business
On May 17, 1904, Miss Margaret McCarthy died in Chicago's Mary Thompson Hospital from an illegal abortion performed some days earlier at an unknown location. Mrs. Gertrude Plenz was arrested on May 21 for the death, and Benjamin Frederick, a boiler inspector, arrested for complicity. Both Plenz and Frederick were held by Coroner's Jury. Plenz, a midwife, is listed as an unskilled laborer in this arrest. She was later arrested for the abortion deaths of Sarah Cushing and Mary Kissell. She advertised in the Chicago newspapers, very thinly veiling the true nature of her deadly business.

On May 17, 1919, 27-year-old nurse Gertrude Schaefer, a widow, died at Chicago's Wesley Hospital (pictured) from an abortion perpetrated by an unidentified person.

On April 2, 1924, 26-year-old homemaker Mary Whitney underwent an abortion at the Chicago office of Dr. Lou E. Davis. On May 17, Mary died at St. Mary's Hospital of complications of that abortion. Dr. Davis was held by the coroner on May 19.

"Danielle," age 18, had decided to take advantage of the liberalized law, and traveled from Massachusetts to New York for a safe and legal abortion. On May 17, 1972, the abortion was performed. Minutes after it was completed, Danielle was dead. She'd developed arterial and venous air emboli (air bubbles in the blood stream).

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