Thursday, January 31, 2013

40 Years, 40 Faces of Choice (1983-1992)

1983: Dr. Judith Comeau-Samuel


Comeau-Samuel and her husband, Dr. Maxen Samuel, ran a scam in New York. She and her husband would charge $75 for a pregnancy test. They would then tell the patient she was pregnant, then offer to apply the $75 pregnancy test fee toward the cost of an abortion. The women would be put under general anesthesia and instruments introduced into their wombs to cause pain and bleeding that would simulate an abortion having been performed. Authorities estimated that 25% of the abortions performed at Comeau-Samuel's facilities were done on non-pregnant women. Comeau-Samuel admitted to practices endangering the health of patients at her abortion clinics, but claimed that she had only done so because she was dominated by her husband and manipulated by him via voodoo. Now 61 years old and  practicing in Philadelphia under the name Judith Prophete, Comeau-Samuel carefully avoids positing photographs online.

1984: The Silent Scream


In 1984, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, released a short film, The Silent Scream, that incorporated footage of an actual 10-week abortion recorded on ultrasound as it was being performed. Nathanson, whose own conversion from passionate activist for legalization of abortion to abortion opponent was sparked in large part by ultrasound images of the unborn children he was about to abort, reported that the doctor who performed the abortion filmed for The Silent Screen hung up his canula and swore never to perform another abortion after seeing the ultrasound footage. It was such an image on ultrasound that caused Planned Parenthood clinic manager Abby Johnson to convert to the pro life cause as well.


1985: Benjamin Munson


Munson had been a criminal abortionist for years in South Dakota prior to legalization. He wasted no time hanging his shingle out on Main Street when Roe vs. Wade came down and promptly killed abortion patient Linda Padfield by sending her home with around half of her dead fetus rotting inside her. For an encore, in 1987 he did the same thing to teenage abortion patient Yvonne Mesteth. Between Linda's death and Yvonne's, Munson was welcomed into the National Abortion Federation, purported protectors of women's safety. Munson wasn't the only "back-alley butcher" turned "provider of vital reproductive health care" to go from a clean pre-legalization record to killing two patients after legalization. Milan Vuitch killed Georgianna English and Wilma Harris, and Jesse Ketchum killed Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner.

1987 Belinda Byrd


In 1987, 37-year-old Belinda Ann Byrd bled to death after an abortion at Inglewood Women's Hospital in Los Angeles. She was one of 74 women who had abortions in Inglewood's single operating room that day, and one of 24 whose abortions were performed in the final two hours of the day. In the wake of the series of deaths at Inglewood, the authorities inspected the place. Among other things, they caught an abortionist writing post-operative examination notes without even examining the patients. When the state closed Inglewood for numerous violations, the facility simply re-opened as Inglewood Women's Clinic; as a clinic rather than a hospital they were no longer subject to the same intense scrutiny and were able to remain in business. Other women known to have died after abortions at the Inglewood facility include Kathy Murphy, Cora Lewis,Lynette Wallace, and Elizabeth Tsuji.

1988: David Gluck


After the 1988 death of abortion patient K.B. at the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (CRASH), the health department investigated and found a mystery: K's chart listed her post-operative condition as "pink, responsive, alert," even though she had gone into full cardio-respiratory arrest by the time indicated on the assessment. They learned that the note had been entered into the chart before the abortion was even performed. The inspectors noted that CRASH "did not employ proper monitoring equipment or procedures," "had no working EKG machine," and didn't have a cardiac defibrillator. No one on staff was qualified to perform CPR or to administer anesthesia. Anesthesia was administered "by eye" rather than measured, and was estimated to be twice that recommended in the procedure manual. The operating rooms were ill-lit, with no soap or paper towels at the scrub sink. There were red make-up stains on the oxygen masks and nitrous oxide masks, dusty tubing on the suction machines, and blood on the wheels of the operating table. CRASH had no documentation verifying the credentials or qualifications of medical director David Gluck, who had been previously convicted of felony charges related to the sale of 48,000 Diluadid tablets to pay off gambling debts. His license had actually been revoked two months before K.B.'s death, but had been restored by judicial stay. There was no evidence at the investigation two weeks after K.B.'s death that Gluck had reviewed her chart, or the charts of 18 other patients identified as having suffered complications. The state closed CRASH for 60 days, but it never re-opened. Gluck went on to perform the fatal abortion on Alerte Desanges in 1994.

1989: Marla Anne Cardamone


"The last two weeks of her life, all she did was cry," said Deborah Cardamone, whose daughter Marla died from a botched abortion at the prestigious Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh. Marla had planned for adoption, but a medical-social worker at the hospital badgered Marla, telling her that her baby would be too disabled to be adopted because of  medications Marla had been taking, and that caring for a disabled child would detract from Marla's ability to care for her young son and her paraplegic father. Marla caved under the pressure, and the botched abortion caused massive infection. Marla became increasingly ill during the night, with nausea, vomiting, urinary incontinence, disorientation, and seizures before finally dying. Marla's mother, who recently released her daughter's autopsy photos, has never stopped trying to call attention to deaths from purportedly safe legal abortions: I've often wondered why pro-choice women's groups have never expressed any sympathy or concern over Marla's death. Why aren't they demanding justice? Why aren't they concerned that Marla was lied to about the condition of her baby and wasn't shown the sonogram results? Why aren't they concerned that proper treatment was delayed because Marla was misdiagnosed by a resident who was only two months out of medical school? Why are they so quiet? I believe it's because pro-choice groups don't want women to read or hear about abortion injuries and deaths. Bad publicity hurts their cause. That's why they prefer that Marla and her baby remain hidden statistics.


1990 Moshe Hachamovitch


In 1990, Christina Goesswein was referred to Hachamovitch for an abortion. When she suffered serious complications, he had her meet him at his office in the middle of the night rather than admit her to the hospital. The New York medical board slapped him down for his grotesque mismanagement of Christina's care. Hachamovitch, originally licensed in New York in 1966, was a 1960 graduate of Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University Of Jerusalem. His Arizona license was revoked in 2004 for unprofessional conduct (gross negligence, knowingly making false/fraudulent statements to the board, and failing/refusing to maintain adequate records). Six abortion patients are known to have died either under Hachamovitch's direct care or under the care of an employe at one of his clinics: Tanya Williamson was inadequately monitored in recovery and allowed to lapse into respiratory arrest; Luz Rodriguez, who was allowed to bleed to death in 1986; Jammie Garcia, who died a horrible death after her safe, legal abortion at one of Hachamovitch's facilities in Texas; Lisa Bardsley, who bled to death on the way home from her safe, legal abortion at one of Hachamovitch's facilities in Arizona; and Lou Anne Herron, whose pleas for help went unheeded as she bled to death in Hachamovitch's Arizona abortion clinic. For understandable reasons, Hachamovitch guards his identity; I've been utterly unable to find a single photograph of him online, in spite of scores of physician profiles.

1991 Ana Rosa Rodriguez


Rosa Rodriguez went to National Abortion Federation member Abu "The Butcher of Avenue A" Hayat for what she thought was going to be a mid-second-trimester abortion in 1991. Hayat clearly knew that Rosa's pregnancy was more advanced than she thought, because he used a technique typical for abortions after 20 weeks -- performing some sort of injection into the uterus to stop the fetal heart so that on the following day the dead baby's body will be easier to dismember and remove. Rosa changed her mind overnight but when she returned asking Hayat to remove the cervical dilators, he told her that it was too late to change her mind. He had staff hold her down and he began the abortion. However, after removing the right arm, Hayat realized that the fetus wasn't dead. He sent Rosa home with instructions to return the following day. That night she went into labor. Her mother brought her to a hospital where she gave birth to her maimed baby, Ana Rosa. When Rosa went public with her story, all hell broke loose and it was revealed that Hayat had a history of botching abortions and sexually abusing patients. He had also killed a teenage abortion patient, Sophie McCoy, the year before. Hayat was prosecuted for the illegal abortion and sentenced to prison.

1992 Gideo Kioko


In 1992, shortly after winning her malpractice suit against Gideon Kioko, Suzanne Logan died in a Maryland nursing home where she had lived, mute and paralyzed, since Kioko had allowed her to stop breathing during an abortion in 1989. EMS personnel who had responded to a belated call for help noted that the Hillview employees seemed "very confused and did not seem to know what they were doing." EMS staff also noted that Hillview staff had put an oxygen mask on Suzanne upside-down, so that she wasn't getting any oxygen. Kioko blamed Suzanne's injury, and the similar fatal injury of another abortion patient, Debra Gray, on clinic management. The medical board had none of it, noting that Kioko "performed surgical procedures under conditions that failed to meet appropriate standards for the delivery of quality medical and surgical care. .... In the event that [Kioko} was unable to correct these conditions, the appropriate standard of care required that [he] not perform these procedures at this facility until these conditions were so corrected."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

40 Years, 40 Faces of Choice (1973-1982)

1973: Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard

TR Mason Howard had impressive credentials as a civil rights activist.. He had opened Friendship Medical Center in Chicago in order to provide medical care to poor and minority patients. However, once Roe vs. Wade was handed down, Howard allowed it to devolve into an abortion mill and he himself devolved into a quack abortionist. In its first year of operation, Friendship killed two abortion patients: Evelyn Dudley in March and Julia Rogers in April. The deaths didn't end in 1973. The quackery at Friendship killed Dorothy Brown in 1974.

1974: Milan Vuitch

Vuitch was lauded as a hero to the prochoice cause. A criminal abortionist in the Washington, DC area, he had deliberately gotten arrested to challenge the District of Columbia abortion law. Though he did not get the law overturned, he did get it rendered toothless due to a ruling that it was incumbent upon the state to prove that the abortion had not been necessary to preserve the mother's life or health. What his enthusiasts cheerfully overlook is how emboldened Vuitch became after legalization. they turn a blind eye to the quackery. In 1984, WDVM-TV, Washington, D.C. won the Peabody Award for its investigation of Vuitch's practice, which was so shoddy that the clinic license was revoked so Vuitch continued to operate without one. His slovenly practices killed Wilma Harris in 1974 and Georgianna English in 1980.

1975: Kenneth Yellin

"[Kenneth Yellen] put his business acumen and money into concerns that were characterized by their increasing sordidness and which have known links to organized crime. He ran a marriage counseling service which a former prosecuting attorney said was a front for prostitution, and was then believed to have operated or invested in X-rated movie theaters. The abortion business seemed a natural progression." The abortion business in question, originally called "Women's Medical Facility," had been closed by the state for licensing violations, but Yellin reopened it as Biogenetics. Deaths at this seedy facility began with "Susanna Chisolm," who bled to death from a punctured uterus in 1975. The quackery outlived its founder, though. Yellin was shot in the head five times in an apparent gangland execution in 1979. The stories didn't follow the pattern we're accustomed to: that of lamenting the assassination (presumably by prolifers) of a hapless abortion provider. Instead, coverage featured such headlines as "'Creepy Kenny' died in the gutter where he belonged."


1976: Georgette Forney

Georgette Forney, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, was only 16 years old and frightened when she submitted to an abortion on October 4, 1976. She had kept the pregnancy a secret from her parents, and afterward tried to pretend that the abortion had simply never happened. For 19 years, she maintained the insistence that her abortion had been "no big deal" until a trigger event left her reeling wiht the reality of what she'd done. She now fights to spare other women from making the same terrible choice she had made.

1977: Frances Kissling

Though best known as the founder and face of the organization mis-named "Catholics for Free Choice," Kissling was also the founder, back in 1977, of the National Abortion Federation. Though purportedly formed to ensure that abortions would be performed safely, the organization launched itself with the death of teenage newlywed Barbaralee Davis, who was sent home with the face and spinal column of her 16-week fetus embedded in a tear in her uterus. NAF is no stranger to quackery. Hanen Roetm, who killed Gloria Aponte, was caught allowing an untrained receptionist to administer anesthesia. George Tiller kept his supposedly deathly ill third-trimester abortion patients in nearby motels overnight, resulting in the death of Christin Gilbert, a mentally disabled teen from Texas. Abraham Alberto Hodari told Medical Students for Choice that abortion doctors have a "license to lie;" his patient deaths include Regina Johnson, Tamiia Russell and Chivon Williams. NAF member facility Eastern Women's Center is responsible for the deaths of Dawn Mack, Dawn Ravenelle and Venus Ortiz. Abu Hayat is best known for having ripped the arm off a 32-week-fetus, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, who was then born maimed; he also killed teen abortion patient Sophie McCoy. Erstwhile criminal abortionist Benjamin Munson was welcomed into NAF although he was responsible for the death of 28-year-old Linda Padfield; he went on to kill Yvonne Mesteth. Atlanta Women's Pavilion managed to fatally injure Angela Scott and Delores Smith in the same hour. And, of course, there is NAF flagship Family Planning Associates Medical Group, where over a dozen abortion patients are known to have lost their lives to quackery.

1978: Sherry Emry

A leather shop owner, Sherry Emry was found dead in her bed by her friends early in the morning of January 2, 1978. She had gone to Water Tower Reproductive Center in Chicago for a safe, legal abortion, but their sloppy practices sent her home with an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, which ruptured and killed her. The seedy abortion mill, run by Arnold Bickham, was one of those featured in the Chicago Sun-Times "The Abortion Profiteers" expose. Bickham later shoved a hemorrhaging teenage abortion patient out the door to bleed to death.

1979: Joshua Vandervelden

Dr. Benjamin Victoria attempted to perform an abortion on Linda Moie on January 12, 1979, at Fox Valley Reproductive Health Care Center in Wisconsin. The abortion injured but did not kill the fetus, who was born September 18, 1979 and named Joshua Vandervelden. Though he spent two weeks on a respirator, Joshua survived, a real-life "October Baby." Others walking among us despite having been born during abortions include Gianna Jessen, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, Melissa Ohden, Carrie Holland Fischer, and Ximenia Renearts. Based on studies of failed abortion rates, I estimate that there are over 100,000 people in the US alone alive today because of failed attempts to kill them in-utero.

1980: Edward Campbell Allred

In a 1980 interview with the San Diego Union, Allred said, “Population control is too important to be stopped by some right-wing pro-life types. Take the new influx of Hispanic immigrants. Their lack of respect of democracy and social order is frightening. I hope I can do something to stem that tide; I’d set up a clinic in Mexico for free if I could. Maybe one in Calexico would help." Allred also founded the Family Planning Associates Medical Group chain of abortion clinics, one that seems to be trying to achieve population control not only by aborting minority babies but by rendering their mothers unable to procreate, or sometimes even killing them. Deaths that I have learned about at Allred's facilities include Denise Holmes,Mary Pena, Josefina Garcia, Lanice Dorsey, Joyce Ortenzio, Tami Suematsu, Christina Mora, Susan Levy, Nakia Jorden, Maria Leho, Maria Rodriguez, Patricia Chacon, Kimberly Neil, Chanelle Bryant, and Deanna Bell.

1981: Robert Dale Crist

It was in 1981 that Crist, a Planned Parenthood abortionist and popular hero of the National Abortion Federation, killed his first abortion patient that I know of: a 19-year-old mentally-disabled rape victim named Diane Boyd. . In prepping her for her abortion, Crist gave Diane drugs that reacted with her usual medications, killing her. He went on to send 17-year-old Latatchie Veal to bled to death The death of his patient Nichole Williams was blamed on amniotic fluid embolism.

1982: Carol Everett

Carol ran a chain of for-profit abortion facilities in the Dallas area. As she became more and more focused on making more and more money, selling more and later abortions, her doctors began injuring more women. In her book, alternatively titled Blood Money and The Scarlet Lady, Carol told of the death of a woman she referred to as Sheryl Mason, who was sent home to bleed to death from an easily treatable cervical laceration. Her clinics deliberately provided low-dose birth control pills to teenagers and lied to women about being pregnant in order to sell more abortions. After being reached out to by a pastor who took a job counseling her infighting staff, Carol became a prolife activist and speaker exposing the practices she once espoused. She now runs The Heidi Group, an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of pregnant women so that the don't feel as if they need to entrust themselves to the kinds of abortion profiteers Carol herself once was.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two Each, Illegal and Legal; All Equally Dead

On January 26, 1920, 24-year-old Lydia Swanson died at Chicago's Post Graduate Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Rosa Gollnick. Lydia had developed septic inflammation of both lungs. Gollnick was arrested on January 27 and went to trial, but was acquitted on June 18.

Lois Brown was tried in the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County of second degree murder and abortion in the 1956 death of 27-year-old Lucia "Lucy" Sanchez. When Lucy was three or four months pregnant, a go-between introduced her to Brown, and together with her also-pregnant roommate, Clara, went to her for an abortion. Brown did Clara's abortion first, after which Clara suffered complications and had to seek aftercare with a doctor. Lucy, meanwhile, gathered funds to pay for her own abortion, which left her hemorrhaging and in great pain. Brown took Lucy, accompanied by Clara and Lucy's mother, to a hospital. Upon being told that Lucy was dead, Brown gave the abortion fee to Lucy's mother for funeral expenses and pondered whether to come clean about her involvement. The jury found Brown guilty of two abortions -- Lucy's and Clara's -- and of murder in Lucy's death.

Ingar Weber, age 28, died January 26, 1990, in a Louisiana hospital. She had been treated for acute kidney failure after a safe and legal abortion performed at Delta Women's Clinic in Baton Rouge on January 20, 1990. Ingar's family sued the clinic and its doctors, Richardson P. Glidden and Thomas Booker, faulting them with failing to diagnose Ingar's kidney problems, or her deteriorating physical condition, before, during, or after the abortion. Delta had also been sued following the death of another abortion patient. This woman was most likely 27-year-old Sheila Hebert, who died after an abortion on June 6, 1984.

On January 22, 2001, 19-year-old Melissa Heim went to Access Health Center in Downers Grove, Illinois.She was given "twilight anesthesia" with a drug cocktail for a safe, legal abortion. After the abortion, she was moved to the recovery area, where she went into cardio-respiratory arrest about half an hour later. An ambulance was summoned, and Melissa was resuscitated by the paramedics, but due to the brain injury she had suffered, she died on January 26.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Four Criminal Abortion Deaths

On January 23, 1913, 33-year-old homemaker. Margaret Wagner died at Post Graduate Hospital in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated that day by midwife Caroline Orbach. Orbach was held by the Coroner on January 24. The case went to trial but Orbach was acquitted on November 25.

On January 23, 1914, 17-year-old Helen Kleich, who worked as a domestic servant, died at Cook County Hospital from sepsis, arising from an abortion perpetrated on January 17 by midwife Margared Wiedemann. Wiedemann was held by the Coroner for murder by abortion, but was acquitted.


On January 23, 1925, 34-year-old Kate Radochouski died at Chicago's Lakeside Hospital from complications of an abortion performed that day. The Homicide in Chicago database says that she died at the scene of the crime, and that there was an arrest on February 11. But there is no name given for the person arrested.


On January 23, 1929, 22-year-old Edna Vargo died in Chicago from an abortion performed that day by Katherine Bajda. Bajda was identified as a homemaker. She was held by the Coroner on February 14.
On March 15, she was indicted for felony murder in Edna's death.

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 across America.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roe Anniversaries: Barbara Shelgren, Jean Cohen, Kathryn Strong, and Vanessa Preston

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.

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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.

external image Abortion+Deaths+Since+1960.jpg

On January 22, 1980, 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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Three Pre-Legalization Deaths

On January 21, 1919, 26-year-old Wanda Skrzypzak died at Chicago's St. Elizabeth's Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Michael Rozumski and Dr. John P. Wojtaleiwicz They were held by the Coroner for intentional manslaughter by abortion on January 22, and were indicted on February 15, but the case never went to trial. There were allegations of police corruption associated with the case.

On January 21 of 1926, 38-year-old homemaker Victoria Smith died in Chicago from a botched abortion, evidently performed at Jefferson Park Hospital. On January 26, the coroner pushed for the arrest of Peter Krakowski as the principal and Mary Sprochi as an accessory. Krakowski's profession is not given, though he might have been some sort of medical professional, since the abortion was performed at a hospital. On February 15, Krakowski was indicted for felony murder.

On January 21, 1961, Dr. Mandel M. Friedman contacted a Queens undertaker, asking him to arrange burial for 23-year-old Vivian Grant of New York. Friedman told the undertaker that Vivian, unmarried and working as a book editor, had died of a heart ailment. The undertaker notified authorities, who determined that although Vivian had not been pregnant, Friedman had attempted to perform an abortion on her, causing her death. Friedman was charged with homicide and falsifying a death certificate. Friedman resurfaced late the following year. He was charged with homicide in the death of Barbara C. Covington, a Florida socialite. Vivian's abortion was typical in that it was performed by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

Due to improvements in addressing these health and health-care delivery problems, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America.

external image MaternalMortality.gif



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Legal and Illegal, Abortion Kills

Mary Ackerly of White Plains, New York, was the uneducated daughter of a poor family. So it was only natural that she would be won by the charms of Harry Nelson, "a person of considerable wealth and influence" who lived near Sing Sing. When she was "in an advanced state of pregnancy, Mary was taken to New York, where board was provided for her in a house of ill fame", according to her deathbed statement. There, Nelson brought Dr. Shove to her room at night. Then "one of them blew out the light while the other proceeded against her will, to perform the operation", which led to the expulsion of a dead baby a day or two later. Mary sickened, and died on January 20, 1846.

On January 20, 1910, homemaker Elizabeth Lambacher, age 27, died at her Robby Street home in Chicago from septic peritonitis caused by an abortion. A nurse or midwife named Mrs. Hopp was indicted by a grand jury. The source document does not indicate that the case ever went to trial.

"Andrea" was 26 years old when she underwent a newly legalized abortion at a New York City abortion facility on January 12, 1971. After her abortion, Andrea contracted an infection. Her system was unable to fight the infection, and she died on January 20, 1971, leaving behind six children.

The survivors of 21-year-old Linda Fondren sued after her death. Linda had a safe and legal abortion performed by Mohammad Pourtabib at Pre-Birth in Chicago on New Years Day, 1974. She suffered bleeding, but Pourtabib did not provide follow-up care. Linda was taken by ambulance to Michael Reese Hospital, in shock and needing emergency care. They would not admit her, but instead sent her to Cook County Hospital, where doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy. Linda remained hospitalized at Cook County. On January 16, doctors tried to drain fluids from Linda's chest and inadvertently punctured her spleen. Linda died on January 20 from "hemoperitoneum with splenic rupture following hysterectomy and earlier dilatation and curettage." She left behind a small child.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Two Beneficiaries of Safe and Legal Abortion

The two deaths we commemorate today were of beneficiaries of the legalization of abortion.

Glenna Jean Fox, age 17,  underwent a second trimester abortion at the hands of Dr. Morris Wortman in January of 1989. Glenna Jean continued to bleed for two days afterward. She was taken to an emergency room but died from shock several hours later on January 19.

Like the deaths of Jacqueline Smith and Barbara Lofrumento, the story of Angela Sanchez involves illegal abortion and attempts to hide the body. The difference is that Alicia Hannah's abortion clinic was operating openly and apparently legally.

On January 19, 1993, Angela Ernestina Nieto Sanchez, age 27, went to Clinica Feminina de la Comunidad with two of her four children: 12-year-old Maria, and 2-year-old Victor. Angela's family is adamant that Angela wasn't seeking an abortion. They said that she was excited about the pregnancy and was hoping it would be a girl so Maria would have a sister. Angela's sister Celia said that someone from the facility had called Angela, telling her to come in for a consultation about the pregnancy.

Maria and Victor waited for their mother in the lobby. A clinic staffer approached Maria and suggested that she take the car and drive Victor home. Maria protested that she was too young to drive. The children continued to wait for their mother.

At around noon, a staffer took the children to lunch. When they returned to the clinic, Angela's car was gone, and Maria was told that her mother had gone to another clinic. The children continued to wait, but when their mother failed to appear Maria finally called her uncle, Hemiberto Sanchez, who took them home with him.

SanchezReadingEagleTop.pngBy 10:00, Angela's family was frantic, and Celia took Maria to the clinic to look for the missing woman. When they arrived, they saw Angela's car. Maria jumped out of her aunt's pickup truck and ran to the car. There she saw her mother lying on the ground.

Maria asked two women from the clinic, who were standing nearby, what had happened to her mother, and they told her, "She's dead."

Sobbing, Maria clung to and kissed her mother while the two women from the clinic told Celia that a man had shoved Angela from a car and they were picking her up. One of the women, Alicia Ruiz Hanna, who operated the facility, told Maria that her mother had just come knocking on the door, then collapsed.

Celia put her sister's stiffened body in the back of her truck and flagged down a policeman, who led her and Maria to a hospital. There, Celia was told that her sister had been dead for several hours.

After a prolonged investigation, and Hanna's jailhouse conversion to Christianity, the full story finally emerged. Hanna, who had been passing herself off as a doctor and performing abortions at the facility, had given Angela an injection to induce abortion. Angela stopped breathing, and staffers attempted to revive her. One of them even tried to call 911, but Hanna told her employee, "No, I'll save her -- we'll get in trouble" and hung up the phone because she feared that she would go to jail and lose her children if it was discovered that she was running the clinic illegally. She and the other woman had planned to put Angela's stiffening body into the trunk of her own car and abandon the vehicle in Tijuana.

Hanna's clinic was tied up with abortionist Nicholas George Braemer. Hanna had opened a business, under the name of C.J. Professional Management Co., on February 4, 1992, as a limited partnership with Braemer. Braemer said that he'd run a "family planning practice" for four or five months, up until May or June, having sublet the space from Hanna, who was also running Family Health and Weight Control Center at the location. "When I disassociated with the clinic, I expected my name would go off the door because the name is registered to me." He made a formal complaint to the medical board about the lack of a name change after his departure from the facility. However, the clinic itself was evidently never licensed.

Hanna had originally used doctors to perform the abortions but eventually started doing them herself as a cost-cutting measure.

In December 1994, Hanna was convicted of second-degree murder for Angela's death. She was sentenced to 16 years to life.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

1912: The First of Three Deaths Attirbuted to Chicago Doctor

On January 17, 1912, 38-year-old homemaker Minnie Miller died at Columbus Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. C.W. Klinetop. Klintop was identified by Coroner's Verdict on January 26. Minnie's husband Julius is the one who identified Klinetop as the guilty party.

While Klinetop was awaiting trial -- which was delayed due to a crowded docket -- in Minnie's death, a woman called the police from Lake Shore Hospital, reporting that there was a woman there "dying from an abortion." The police suspected that Klinetop was involved, but before they arrived at the hospital the woman, identified as Grace Smith, had been spirited away under mysterious circumstances.

Klinetop was also implicated in the 1917 abortion death of Edna Lamb and the 1923 abortion death of Lydia Nelson.

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 across America.

For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Five Deaths Raise Question: Who Did Legalization Help?

On January 16, 1901, Jennie Mallard died at Alexian Brothers Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed that day. Mrs. Margaret Simmons was arrested and held in the death. Mrs. Simmons' profession is listed as nurse or midwife. On the 1900 Census, she is listed as a physician.

Jennie Martin, a 28-year-old homemaker, died January 16, 1906 in her Chicago home from sepsis caused by a criminal abortion. . Dr. William F. Briney, an abortionist who ran very thinly veiled ads announcing his trade, was held by the coroner's jury. Jennie's abortion is typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a doctor.

On December 23, 1941, Dr. Samuel Roth was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the illegal abortion death of a woman I identify as Jane Roe of 1937. Roth, whose license was suspended at the time, performed the abortion in his office on January 16, 1937.

During the era when while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this to improved health and sanitation as well as to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

 Let's move ahead to the legal era and see how much improvement there was in the actual abortion practice.

Former abortion entrepreneur Carol Everett, in Blood Money, tells of how the abortionist in one of her clinics sent a woman home to bleed to death over a pitcher of margaritas. Carol calls the woman "Sheryl Mason." and details how abortionist Harvey Johnson left the hemorrhaging woman in the care of a layman. After "Sheryl" went home, her boyfriend called Johnson, who instructed him to give "Sheryl" a hot bath and only when this led to unconsciousness decided to meet the couple at the hospital where in spite of emergency care, "Sheryl" bled to death. Then, Carol said, Johnson carefully edited the patient chart before providing it to the medical examiner's office. The autopsy found that "Sheryl" had died of hemorrhaging from a cervical tear. At this news, Carol said, "I went numb:" Through a little detective work, researchers at Life Dynamics were able to identify the dead woman as 34-year-old Shary Graham, who was pronounced dead January 16, 1982, at an emergency room in Dallas. Of course, no public record document is going to verify the story of the pitcher of margaritas. But when we consider what excuses other abortionists had for leaving patients with no medical supervision, the pitcher of margaritas is credible. John Biskind left Lou Ann Herron without medical supervision so that he could keep an appointment with a tailor; she bled to death.  No reason was given for Abram Zelikman's decision to leave the hemorrhaging Eurice Agbagaa in the care of a receptionist; she bled to death. Tommy Tucker seems to have left Angela Hall with no doctor to care for her because he'd had a fight with the nurse about whether or not to call an ambulance; she bled to death.

Thirty-eight-year-old Pamela Wainwright and her husband had two children living at home, one of whom had Down Syndrome. Pamela was admitted to Shallowford Community Hospital in Dunwoody, Georgia on January 15, 1987, for an abortion and tubal ligation. Pamela was 11 weeks pregnant. She was taken to the operating room for her surgery the next day. The abortion and tubal ligation were to be performed by Dr. Wendell Phillips. Phillips placed a needle into Pamela's abdomen to pump in carbon dioxide. He did not ensure proper placement of the needle. Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into her abdomen, he pumped it into her bloodstream. Pamela died almost immediately from cardiac arrest, due to vapor lock in her heart.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

1907, 1915, 1989: Three Equally Dead

On January 15, 1907, 24-year-old housekeeper Sarah Cushing died in Wesley Hospital in Chicago, from complications of a criminal abortion performed there that day. A midwife named Gertrude Plenz was arrested on January 24, and held by the coroner's jury. Mrs. Plenz was also arrested in the abortion death of Margaret McCarthy in 1904. Sarah's abortion was unusual in that it was not performed by a physician.

On January 15, 1915, 22-year-old Margaret Jenickes died in Chicago of infection caused by an abortion perpetrated that day, presumably by Dr. C.A. Erickson. Joseph Martin was also held. Though Erickson was indicted on February 1, the case never went to trial because the me wee exonerated by a Grand Jury. No other suspect in Margaret's death is mentioned in my sources.

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 across America.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Eurice Agbagaa, a 26-year-old immigrant from Ghana, went to Abram Zelikman for a safe, legal abortion on January 7, 1989. Zelikman estimated the pregnancy as 11 to 12 12 weeks. He performed the abortion at about 1pm, then sent Eurice to the recovery room. Over the next 2 1/2 hours, Eurice bled so heavily that the receptionist, Yolanda Penalzer, became alarmed and asked Zelikman to do something. Zelikman told her that the bleeding was normal and that she should put an ice bag on the patient. He then left the facility, leaving Yolada to care for the patients in recovery. Yolanda continued to be concerned about Eurice's bleeding, and tried repeatedly to reach Zelikman at his home, but couldn't contact him. Finally she called an ambulance. The ambulance crew found Yolanda performing CPR on Eurice, who was in shock. They were able to restore her breathing and transport her to a hospital, where an emergency hysterecomy was done. It was determined that Eurice had actually been at least 19 weeks pregnant. Eurice had a perforated uterus and severed abdominal artery. Eurice survived the surgery and was put on life support, but remained in a coma until her death in the early morning of January 15.

Monday, January 14, 2013

An Antiquated Method and a Den of Quackery

Christella Forte, age 16, screamed, convulsed, and went into cardiac arrest 27 hours after instillation of saline for an abortion. at New Centre Hospital in Detroit on January 14, 1986. She died without ever expelling the 23-week fetus.The concentrated salt solution that had been injected into Christella's uterus to kill the fetus got into her bloodstream, poisoning her and causing cardiac arrest. Strangely, her death certificate lists her manner of death as "natural," rather than "accidental," indicating an odd judgment call on the medical examiner's behalf. What is particularly disgusting about Christella's death is how utterly needless it was: saline abortions had been discredited as far too dangerous for over a decade. The documents surrounding her death do not explain why her abortionist chose an outdated, high-risk procedure for his young patient.

Twenty-two-year-old Chanelle Bryant was given the drugs for a safe and legal chemical abortion at a Family Planning Associates Medical Group facility in California. She was instructed to use the prostaglandin as a suppository, rather than take an oral prostaglandin. This off-label use is being investigated by the CDC and FDA after Chanelle and four other US women died of infection after RU-486 abortions. Chanelle suffered terrible pain four days after self-administering the medication. She sought emergency care at Huntington Memorial Hospital. Her condition deteriorated, and she was transferred to the intensive care unit at 1:20 PM. At 4:11 she went into cardiac arrest. She was taken into surgery at 5:27 to try to identify the source of her problems. Ten minutes into surgery she went into cardiac arrest again. She was pronounced dead at 5:51 from "sepsis and pneumonia due to Endomyometritis with abcess formation due to Termination of Pregnancy."  Thus Chanelle joined the sad ranks of women known to have died after FPA abortions: Denise Holmes,Mary Pena, Josefina Garcia, Lanice Dorsey, Joyce Ortenzio, Tami Suematsu, Christina Mora, Susan Levy, Nakia Jorden, Maria Leho, Maria Rodriguez, Patricia Chacon, Kimberly Neil, and Deanna Bell.FPA is a member of the National Abortion Federation, an organization that ostensibly ensures that abortions are done safely.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Deaths From Both Eras

Minnie Wittenborn died Thursday evening, January 13, 1880 from an abortion perpetrated by an unidentified person. Though Dr. Charles H. McCallister was known to have tended to Minnie after the abortion, he was chastised only for his failure to properly treat Marie by failing to remove the placenta that she had retained.

On January 13, 1911, 27-year-old homemaker Rauka Wilen died at Chicago's Augusta Hospital of peritonitis caused by an abortion. Midwife Mary Rominel was arrested and indicted by a grand jury.

On January 13, 1915, 23-year-old Mrs. Beulah Rehm died at Wesley Hospital after an abortion perpetrated that day at Dr. A.L. Blunt's Chicago practice. Blunt was held by the Coroner but the case never went to trial.

During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif


Jumping ahead to the era of safe, legal abortions:

Christin Gilbert, a 19-year-old woman with Down syndrome, was brought from Texas to George Tiller's Wichita abortion facility for a presumably safe and legal late abortion on January 10, 2005. Like all Tiller late abortion patients, ostensibly so sick that their pregnancies endanger their lives or health, Christin spent the bulk of her time during the abortion process at a motel, in the care of her family, between visits to the facility. On January 12, Tiller's staff diagnosed Christin as being "dehydrated". She was given IV fluids then sent back to the motel. She had numerous episodes of vomiting, and lost consciousness several times. Rather than call an ambulance or take her to the hospital, Christin's family waited until morning and took her to Tiller's clinic. There she went into cardiac arrest. Tiller employee Marguerite Reed called 911, but was vague and "evasive," and claiming falsely that Christin was alert. When the ambulance crew arrived, Dr. LeRoy Carhart was performing CPR on a clinically dead patient, in such an incompetent manner that the EMS workers thought he was a bystander, not a physician.Ambulance staff resuscitated Christin, then transported her to the hospital. She was pumped full of antibiotics to try to treat the underlying sepsis that evidently had caused the cardiac arrest, but to no avail. She died that day of systemic organ failure.Tiller's facility was a member of the National Abortion Federation.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Women Die When Vigilance Fails

On January 12, 1900, Mrs. Ida Henry, age 26, died at the home she shared with Dr. Paulina Bechtel, from complications of an abortion Bechtel had performed on her there that day. Bechtel was held by the Coroner's Jury. Ida's abortion was typical of pre-legal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. Bechtel was also implicated in the death of Barbara Shelgren shortly thereafter, but was identified as a midwife in that case. According to Leslie Reagan, author of When Abortion Was a Crime, it was common for female physicians to be misidentified as midwives, particularly if they practiced obstetrics. Bechtel went on to kill Mary Thorning in 1911. Sadly, merely having laws on the books intended to lock up quack abortionists is not of itself enough to protect women. We will need to remain vigilant if abortion laws are ever restored.

For for those who think that legalization was the answer, read on.

Former criminal abortionist Milan Vuitch had been operating his clinic without a license for two years when 32-year-old Jeannie English came to him for a safe and legal abortion on January 12, 1980. Vuitch administered general anesthesia for Jeannie, and she never woke up. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she died. Vuitch settled with Jeannie's family for $150,000. When Vuitch was investigated, it was discovered that he kept patients overnight in his home (an unlicensed facility) which he designated "The Annexe." Inspectors also noted repeated violations of medical standards regarding sanitation and anesthesia. Vuitch also admitted during another case that he had lacked hospital admitting privileges since 1963.
Vuitch was also responsible for the 1974 abortion death of 17-year-old Wilma Harris. Vuitch is one of three abortionists I know of who started out as criminal abortionists with clean records -- no patient deaths attributed to them -- who went on to kill two patient by performing the supposedly safer legal abortions. They are Jesse Ketchum (Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner) and Benjamin Munson (Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth).

Shirley Williams was 30 years old when she underwent a safe and legal abortion in January of 1980.She suffered from infection and bleeding after her abortion. On January 12, 1980, she was pronounced dead, from hemorrhage.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Another Seedy NAF Member: Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge

Operation Rescue is covering the latest brouhaha over Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

CP For Life gives us a chronology of Delta's doings. I'll tweak it a bit below. Note everything that transpired before Delta appears as a member on the web site of the National Abortion Federation -- supposedly the providers of the highest-quality, safest abortions anywhere in the world.

1981-1990
Numerous lawsuits and injuries to women at the clinic including two deaths linked to abortions at the clinic.

A chronic asthma patient, 27-year-old Sheila Hebert, complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing. She lost consciousness, and staff injected her with adrenaline, but were unable to revive her. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she died..... The suit charged Glidden and Delta staff with failure to monitor the patient in recovery, failing to react properly when her condition was discovered, failing to call 911 promptly, and failing to have adequate emergency equipment available. (East Baton Rouge Parish District Court Case No. 289518)

Ingar Weber died January 26, 1990, in a Louisiana hospital. She had been treated for acute kidney failure after an abortion performed at Delta Women's Clinic in Baton Rouge on January 20, 1990.

1990-1994
Lawsuit by the federal government with Writ of Levy and Writ of Execution for dispensing narcotics illegally.

1994
M.F. suffers incomplete abortion that resulted in hemorrhaging, infection, and a hysterectomy.

K.R. suffered hemorrhaging. It was found out that the remaining portions of the fetus were still inside her, which resulted in infection, surgery, and possible infertility.

1997-1999
Affidavits of Delta employees revealed unbelievable negligence and injury to women who had abortions at the Delta Clinic. Even more startling is the fact that Delta made up the number of abortions performed and never reported any of the injuries that occurred at the clinic. They even admitted that the forms to be submitted to the DHH (Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy) were pre-printed, with pre-printed question responses checked off and completed prior to seeing any patients.

1998
D.D. suffered perforated uterus, resulting in hemorrhaging, which sent her to the emergency room. She ultimately went into septic shock and an emergency hysterectomy was performed which resulted in her needing a colostomy and long term health care.

1999
Allison Tunnard Witness Affidavit:

"During the term of my employment I was often ordered to help hold down 'second timer' patients in the surgery rooms. .... Recently, there was a rather disturbing event that took place with one of these patients.... I was in the room helping to hold her down when Dr. Whitmore said, `The big mama always does it.' He ... apparently punctured her uterus. .... Whitmore refused to let anyone call 911 because he was afraid the media might find out about it. It was not until four hours later that he allowed one of the workers to call Acadian Ambulance....

The `A B' forms that are required by the Department of Health and Hospitals are never correctly done. Filling them out was my job - and neither Dr. Whitmore or Dr. O'Neill ever fill them out themselves. In fact, the doctors just pre-signed a large stack of the forms at a time, and left them blank for me to fill out on my own time. I filled out each form exactly the same, and never reported complications or difficulties."

1999
L.D. hemorrhaged profusely from a uterine perforation, by 5:45 pm her blood pressure dropped pressure dropped to dangerously low levels. She was noted under ultrasound to having a severe uterine perforation and was bleeding profusely, yet Dr. James Whitmore III did not want to call an ambulance.... A worker finally called the ambulance as her blood pressure was bottoming out. She was transported to the hospital and underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy with transfusion of eight units of packed red blood cells and two units of fresh frozen plasma.

2000
L.P underwent emergency salpingectomy for removal of the left fallopian tube from a large ectopic pregnancy that was not diagnosed when she had a D&C at the Delta Women's Clinic.

2003
L.M.: After repeated attempts and suffering excruciating pain she was sent home. She went to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital for pain medication. While at the hospital she passed a foot and a leg through her cervical canal. The ultrasound by the ER physician revealed a macerated fetus in her uterus. She had to undergo another D&C to remove the dismembered baby.

2008
Delta first appears on the NAF web site as a member. This screen capture from the Internet Archive shows Delta's membership listed on October 23.


2009
C.K. obtained an abortion at the Delta Clinic. Due to the improper administration of Phenergan, she was forced to undergo the complete amputation of the first two digits of her right hand.

2009-2011
DHH findings: Proceedings against Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge, Inc., State ID: BO0004642; Complaint No. 9AB28180. 128-page report. (I'll briefly summarize the summary.)

Failure to report statutory rape. Failure to provide pre-abortion counseling. Failure to maintain confidentiality of patient records. Completion of patient care records prior to providing the actual care. Failure to properly sterilize and decontaminate equipment. Use of single-dose IVs on multiple patients. Failure to label, measure, and monitor narcotics. Failure to document administration of narcotics to patients.Failure to screen patients for risk factors. Falsification of legal documents.

Note that while all this was going on, Delta was still a member of the National Abortion Federation. This screen capture from the Internet Archive shows Delta listed on June 13:

2011
NAF suspends Delta's membership and stops referring patients there.

One has to wonder why, considering all the disgusting stuff going on before Delta even joined.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Midwife's Fatal Work and Two Mystery Abortions

On January 10, 1907, homemaker Ellen White, a 36-year-old Irish immigrant, died of shock and hemorrhage in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated about a week before Christmas. A midwife named Emma Watchek was arrested in the death.

On January 10, 1913, 31-year-old homemaker Lizzie Orenstein died at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by a person who was never identified.

Four years later, on January 10, 1917, 23-year-old clerk Tillie Vrzal died at Chicago's Frances Willard Hospital from peritonitis because of an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

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 across America.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

1918 and the 1980s

On January 9, 1918, 39-year-old Mary Cusack, a widowed homemaker, died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. William A. McFarlane. He was indicted on January 15, 1918, but the case never went to trial. Mary was an immigrant from Ireland.

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 across America.

For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Moving ahead to the era of safe, legal abortions.

Sharon Davis was a 17-year-old high school student, 14 weeks pregnant, when she submitted to an abortion at a hospital in Tucumcari, New Mexico on September 20, 1982. Her uterus and bowel were perforated, and she developed an infection. For over three months, she was treated for her infection before she died on January 9, 1983.

Twenty-five-year-old Rita Goncalves took ill after her safe and legal abortion in late 1983. At some point after her abortion, she was taken to Roger Williams General Hospital in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. There, she died on January 9, 1984, from abortion complications.