On January 22, 1900, Mrs. Barbara Shelgren, age 25, died at Augustana Hospital in Chicago of an abortion performed that day. Paulina Bechtel, identified as a midwife, was arrested and held by Coroner's Jury and indicted of homicide by a grand jury, but the case was thrown out by Judge Holdom. Bechtel was implicated in the abortion death of Ida Henry in 1900, but was identified as a physician in that case.
On January 22, 1925, 17-year-old homemaker Jean Cohen, a Connecticut native, died at Chicago's Montrose Hospital from an abortion performed earlier that day. On January 31, Louise Hagenow was arrested in Jean's death. However, Hagenow, though a known abortionist, was for some reason cleared in Jean's death. Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dorris, Abbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths: Minnie Deering, Sophia Kuhn , Emily Anderson, Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Bridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter, and Mary Moorehead. Hagenow was typical of criminal abortionists in that she was a physician. She was also all too frequently left free to ply her lethal trade, underscoring the need for constant vigilance in order to keep corruption from letting even the seediest criminal abortionists do their damage.
Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like
antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about
abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.
On January 21, 1972, 26-year-old Kathryn Strong went to Civic Center Hospital in Oakland, California for a legal abortion that was to be performed by Dr. Harold Van Maren. During the
procedure, her uterus was perforated. According to her medical records,
she suffered extensive hemorrhage and shock. She died the following day,
leaving a three-year-old son.
As you can see from the graph below, abortion deaths were falling
dramatically before legalization. This steep fall had been in place for
decades. To argue that legalization lowered abortion mortality simply
isn't supported by the data. Just as the legalization of abortion in California hadn't stopped Kathryn from dying, Roe vs. Wade didn't stop other women from dying.
Vanessa Preston, the 22-year-old wife of a local
minister, went with her husband and small son to Fairmount Clinic in
Dallas. There, National Abortion Federation member Curtis Boyd performed a safe, legal
dilation and extraction abortion on her. During the abortion, Vanessa
went into a grand mal siezure and then into cardiac arrest. Emergency procedures were
immediately instituted. An ambulance was summoned, and Boyd and a nurse
performed CPR and got Vanessa's heart to beat again. About
40 minutes into exploratory surgery, trying to address a retained
placenta and multiple vaginal punctures, Vanessa again went into cardiac
arrest. She was given a total of 24 units of blood to try to keep her
circulation intact despite her massive, unstoppable blood loss. For an hour and a half, hospital staff tried in vain to resuscitate Vanessa before finally pronouncing her dead.
An autopsy revealed that she had developed amniotic fluid embolism and a blood clotting disorder during the
abortion. When Boyd's staff
resuscitated Vanessa, they caused a small laceration of her liver. This
is typical in even properly performed CPR, and is not usually
life-threatening. However, because of the DIC, Vanessa's blood couldn't
clot, and she bled to death from the liver laceration.