Friday, March 28, 2014

1942: Prosecutor's Golfing Buddy Acquitted in Abortion Death

On March 28, 1942, 19-year-old Cleo Moore died at New Rochelle Hospital in New York from peritonitis from an illegal abortion.

Vintage abortion pills
Upon admission, Cleo told authorities that she had taken some pills to induce the abortion, but before her death she changed her story and said that Dr. Frank F. Marino had performed the fatal abortion.

According to Cleo's roommate, Alice Petersen, Cleo met a man through her work, and discovered that she was pregnant in January.

On March 5, Cleo visited Marino to arrange an abortion, which he performed at his home office on March 9.

By March 11, Cleo was ill and summoned Marino, who sent her to the hospital with instructions not to inform anyone that he had operated on her. Alice also said that Dr. Marino's wife told her to protect her husband, lest "you and Miss Moore...go to prison."

Marino testified that he had examined Cleo on March 5, refused the requested abortion, and did not hear from Cleo again until the 11th, when he was summoned to her home and sent her to the hospital without reporting the abortion.

Marino, who had been a member of the County Board of Supervisors, the New Rochelle Board of Education, and the New Rochelle Zoning Board of Appeals, was also a golfing buddy of the prosecutor of the case. Marino was acquitted.

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

During the 1940s, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality from abortion. The death toll fell from 1,407 in 1940, to 744 in 1945, to 263 in 1950. Most researches attribute this plunge to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.
external image Abortion+Deaths+Since+1940.jpg

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