Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Legal, Illegal, Fatal

Dr. Lillian Jones
Virginia Wolfe, age 33, went to Methodist Women's and Children's Hospital on July 6, 1998, to have an abortion performed by Dr. Lillian Jones (pictured). Jones performed a suction abortion. During the procedure, she punctured Virginia's uterus and bladder. Virginia suffered massive hemorrhage, losing so much blood that her heart stopped. Doctors repaired her bladder and removed her uterus, but Virginia's brain had already been damaged by the lack of oxygen. Virginia was pronounced dead on July 10, 1998.

The fact that her abortion was performed in a reputable hospital did not protect Virginia from massive, ultimately fatal, injuries.

Our other two anniversaries today are from "back alley" abortions.

Marian Mills
In 1934, pretty Marian Mills, a beauty queen, was the 19-year-old "campus sweetheart" of Neal Myers. Myers, a 21-year-old pharmacy student, was the son of Dr. P.B. Myers of Denver. On July 10, Marian died in the apartment of Mrs. Hazel Brown, the cook for Myers' fraternity house and "the only person of mature age in the house during the 24 tragic hours preceding the girl's death." Myers was charged with murder in Marian's death, and could have faced life in prison if convicted. Mrs. Brown said that Myers had loved Marian and had wanted to marry her. He was opposed to the idea of an abortion. Marian, on the other hand, insisted that her parents would never accept Myers. Brown said that Marian had taken "a harmless drug" and that this was the only attempt that she personally knew of to abort the baby.

But evidently Marian had found an abortionist, or had done something herself more drastic than just take mild abortifacients, because doctors who examined her said that some sort of instruments had been used in the abortion that had caused her death. Meyers, a pharmacist testified, had purchased strong antiseptics which he intended to use "to sterilize instruments" prior to Marian's death. After a sensational trial, Myers was acquitted.

Dr. Thomas Walsh
Our final case is one of literal butchery. On July 13, 1926, a laborer on his way to work stumbled across a grisly find: the dismembered remains of a young woman, tossed along the side of a lonely road between two cemeteries near Boston. Boston police began their investigation, but had little to go on. The dismemberment was expertly done, Leary said, indicating that the killer might be a skilled surgeon. Leary estimated that the young woman had been dead from 48 to 72 hours at the time of autopsy. Leary also did not at first release a definitive cause of death. He said that "blood poisoning" was likely and indicted that, as the New York Times said, "evidence pointed to illegal surgery." By July 15, the young woman had been positively identified as 20-year-old Edith Green, who had been an attendant at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital.

Ford admitted to police that he had arranged for an abortion to be performed on Edith by Dr. Thomas E. Walsh (pictured). Ford said that Walsh had asked for his help in disposing of Edith's body, but that he had refused. Walsh and his wife were charged with murder in Edith's death.

Edith's abortion was typical of pre-Roe abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

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