Saturday, December 01, 2012

A Doc's Deadly Work in 1928, and Pro-Choice Safety a Quarter-Century Later

On December 1, 1928, 23-year-old Esther Wahlstrom died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Lou E. Davis was held by the coroner for murder by abortion on December 12. She was indicted for felony murder on December 15. Davis was also implicated in the abortion deaths of Anna Adler, Anna Borndal, and Mary Whitney. Esther's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Fast forward to December 1, 1992. Suzanne Logan, 34 years old, died in in a Maryland nursing home, where she had been languishing, paralyzed and unable to speak, since September 8, 1989. On that fateful day, Suzanne had entrusted her life to the staff at Maryland's Hillview abortion clinic Hillview was run by Barbara Lofton, who passed herself off as a doctor. She hired Dr. Gideon Kioko as an independent contractor to do abortions and an untrained nurse to assist. There is no record of who overdosed Suzanne or of exactly how much medication she was given. When she started to turn blue, Kioko continued with the abortion. An assistant ran for help, and ineffectual resuscitation attempts were made until an ambulance crew arrived and took over. They were able to resuscitate Suzanne but she remained in a coma for four months before awakening in the nursing home where she was to spend the remainder of her life. There, local prolifers had visited her regularly and purchased a machine that allowed her to communicate.

When 60 Minutes interviewed Barbara Radford, then-president of the National Abortion Federation, Radford admitted that NAF had known how bad things were at Hillview but had kept quiet. She  defended the head-in-the-sand attitude the organization took toward safety issues by saying, "We want to make sure that women have choices when it comes to abortion services, and if you regulate it too strictly, you then deny women access to the service." When 60 Minutes asked pro-choice Maryland State Senator Mary Boergers why nothing was being done to address dangerous abortion clinics. Boergers said, "There's only so much of a willingness to try to push a group like the pro-choice movement to do what I think is the responsible thing to do because they then treat you as if you're the enemy."

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