During early 1861, Dr. John H. Joecken was caring for Mr. Malinken, who was ailing in his Brooklyn home. On one of his visits, Malinken's 35-year-old wife, Caroline Malinken, approached Joecken privately and told him "she did not want to have so many children, and wished to know if it was possible to get rid of her present burthen. The doctor replied that it was the easiest thing imaginable, and that in eight days all would be over." Joecken set to work on Caroline, "and by the use of drugs as well as instruments succeeded in making her very sick." Over the course of several days her condition deteriorated. She died late Monday night, February 11. Joecken was arrested.
>On February 11, 1879, 65-year-old Henry Sammis of Northport, Long
Island, got a dispatch to go to Brooklyn immediately. His daughter,
21-year-old Cora Sammis, a Sunday School teacher from Northport, Long
Island, was deathly ill. About halfway to New York on the train, he got a copy of the morning paper.
There he read that his daughter had already died from the results of a
botched abortion. He waited until they got to New York to break the news to his wife.
Cora's aunt, Mary D. Betts, testified that Cora and her "alleged
seducer," Frank Cosgrove, had met at her house and from there went to
the home of 35-year-old Bertha Berger.
About two hours after they arrived at the house, Berger perpetrated the
abortion. Cora was to convalesce there but instead grew increasingly
ill. Cosgrove, who sat up with Cora every night, grew more and more
worried. He found an ad for Dr. Whitehead, who advertised that he
practiced midwifery, and offered him $100 to take over Cora's care.
Upon examining Cora, Whitehead found that she had a raging fever from a
uterine infection. He declared that the case was hopeless. Berger
offered him $50 to provide a death certificate but on the advice of his
attorney Whitehead refused, instead notifying the authorities.
Police came to Berger's house to question Cora, who was told that she
was dying. With frequent rests she was able to give a deathbed
statement, occasionally stopping "to lament her unhappy fate." Berger, who had been sentenced to 12 years, got her
sentence reduced to five years.
On February 11, 1905, 17-year-old Leona Loveless died in the Ischua, New
York home of Dayton M. Hibler, where she had been working as a domestic
for two years. She had gotten the job with the assistance of her
grandmother, but over her father's objections.
Rumors immediately began circulating that she had died as the result of
an abortion, and that Hibler was responsible. When word of the rumors
reached his hears, Hibler took his shotgun out to the barn, first
wounding himself in the chest, then successfully finishing himself off
with a blast to the head.
On February 11, 1916, 42-year-old Eva Krakonowicz died in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated that day by midwife Agnes Dzugas. Dzugas was held by the coroner and indicted by a Grand Jury on February 1, but the case never went to trial.
Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not
using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions
and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely
little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and
illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was
probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good.
In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal
mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically
in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion
On January 24, 1985, Ruth Ravenelle got a phone call from St. Luke's Hospital in New York. Her 13-year-old daughter, Dawn Ravenelle, was "fighting for her life." Ruth said, "I was going, 'How can she be fighting for her life? She left for school this morning, looking healthy, never been sick.'" It was then that Ruth was told that with the help of her school, Dawn had arranged a 21-week abortion at Eastern Women's Center. Dawn's 15-year-old boyfriend had paid for the abortion with a family member's credit card. Dawn wasn't given a proper dose of anesthesia and began coughing and choking during the abortion. The doctor, Allen Kline, inserted a breathing tube and went off to do other abortions. Dawn, left unattended, slipped into a coma. "While
I was there at the hospital -- they were doing tests -- I had to keep
my hand pressed over my mouth to keep from screaming in horror. I kept
going, 'This is all a bad dream. I am going to wake up and this will not
have happened.'" The family sat by Dawn's bedside for three weeks, playing music and talking to her, but she died on February 11 without ever regaining consciousness.
DaNette Pergusson, a 19-year-old medical assistant, submitted to a safe, legal abortion on February 11, 1992, at the hands of Robert Tarnis of Phoenix, Arizona.During the abortion, DaNette stopped breathing, and paramedics were summoned. The Maricopa County deputy medical examiner determined that DaNette died from a pulmonary embolism.