Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Abortion History: Three Dead Patients, Two Dead Doctors

Today's anniversaries resulted in the deaths of two physicians and three patients.

On June 19, 1908, Philadelphia police indicated, 27-year-old Elizabeth "Bess" Gies died under the care of Dr. William H. Wilson (pictured). Police concluded that she died from an illegal abortion he performed on her. Bess had secretly married Fred Gies under a false name to keep from losing her teaching job, which is clearly also the reason she sought an abortion. Wilson later was poisoned, and police believed, but could  not prove, that Fred had killed him as revenge for the death of his beloved wife.

On June 19, 1922, homemaker Veronica Maslanka, a 26-year-old Polish immigrant, died in her Chicago home from complications of an abortion performed there that day. The coroner identified midwife Mary Pesova as the person responsible for Veronica's death.

On June 18, 1928, 20-year-old Anna Mae Smith underwent an abortion at the Chicago office of Dr. George F. Slater. The next day, Anna died there from complications. Dr. Slater, upon learning of Anna Mae's death, committed suicide at his home by taking poison.

Of course, I do not advocate revenge killing, nor suicide. I will note, however, that when abortion was illegal, killing a patient was taken much more seriously than it is now. And though women continue to die, I've not encountered a single story of a revenge killing of a legal abortionist or of an abortionist -- whether operating legally or not -- committing suicide after a patient death. It seems to me that the greatest beneficiaries of legalization were not the women, but the abortionists.

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