Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Doctors and a Midwife: Three Criminal Abortion Deaths

Today's anniversaries are all of the pre-Roe kind, the work of doctors and midwives in an era before antibiotics, when poking around inside the uterus was a foolhardy move.
On June 12, 1922, Louise Huse, a 30-year-old punch press operator, died at Chicago's Mid West Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated that day. On June 16, midwife Agnes Tholl was arrested on the recommendation of the coroner. So far Louise's death is the only one I've found attributed to Tholl, so either she practiced her trade very carefully or she did not habitually perpetrated abortions but made an exception in Louise's case for some reason.

On July 14, 1921, 23-year-old homemaker Edna May Rohner died at Illinois Masonic Hospital in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Otto Klemmick. He was held by the coroner and tried, but acquitted on June 12, 1923. So far Edna's death is the only one I've found attributed to Klemmick.

In June of 1902, Irene Wengel traveled to Tampa, Florida, where her cousin had arranged for her to stay at the home of Dr. Frederick N. Weightnovel for an abortion. Testimony about days and dates is evidently jumbled. The abortion was reportedly performed June 6. The only date we can perhaps rely upon is the date of Irene's death: June 12. Dr. B. G. Abernathy was called in to attend to Irene after the abortion. Abernathy diagnosed her Irene suffering from blood poisoning caused by retained placenta. Abernathy performed a D&C. At some point Weightnovel asked Abernathy to send a telegram to Irene's parents. An undertaker testified that he'd been summoned to remove Irene's body, and was asked to do so quietly and discreetly to keep the news of Irene's death secret.Weightnovel was convicted of manslaughter in Irene's death.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future.
external image Illegals.png

No comments: