Saturday, January 04, 2014

Four Fatal Criminal Abortions

All of the women whose deaths we commemorate today died of criminal abortions. The last woman, however, stands out from the others; she alone was unaware that the person perpetrating her abortion had no legal standing to do so.

Bertie Minnie Hammaremiller, age 19, had lived with her mother on Langdon Street in Chicago. She already had one child to 19-year-old Fred C. Dethloff. On January 4, 1887 Bertie died from a botched abortion. Dethloff, who admitted that this was the third time he'd helped Bertie to abort two other pregnancies with medications in the three years they'd been together, was put on trial for his life.

On January 4, 1921, 21-year-old Jennie Chubb died in her Chicago home from complications of an abortion performed that day. The coroner identified Veronica Rypcznski as the person responsible for Jennie's death. Veronica's profession is not mentioned in the source, nor is there any mention of prosecution.

On January 4, 1924, Elizabeth Strobel died in Chicago's Columbus Hospital from complications of an illegal abortion performed that day. Mrs. Anna Wenzig, whose profession is not given, was arrested January 15 for Elizabeth's death.

On January 4, 1983, Albert Payne got a phone call from a family friend with some shocking news: His 33-year-old wife, Shirley, mother of their three children ages 3 to 12, was dead. "No way my wife is pregnant," Albert had responded. He called the day care center. Shirley had never showed up to pick up the children.  Shirley had undergone what she expected to be a safe and legal abortion at Woman's Care Center in Miami. She suffered a perforated uterus. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they reportedly found Shirley lying on a couch, bleeding heavily. Shirley arrived at the hospital in critical condition due to delay of transfer. An emergency hysterectomy was performed to try to save Shirley's life, but she bled to death in surgery. Ruth Montero, Myrta Baptiste, and Maura Morales also died from abortions at the clinic, owned by Hipolito Barreiro. Trained in Argentina and West Africa, but not licensed in U.S. Barreiro evidently perpetrated Shirley's fatal abortion himself without documenting this fact on her clinic records. 

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