Friday, April 04, 2014

Doctor, Ex-Doctor, and Doctor: Illegal and Legal Abortion Deaths

On April 4, 1907, Mrs. Norma Beck, age 32, died at Lakeside Hospital in Chicago from septic peritonitis caused by a criminal abortion perpetrated at the office of Thomas J Balhollchett on March 24. Balhollchett was held by the coroner's jury and indicted, but there is no record that the case went to trial.


Operating on a tip, police, accompanied by an ambulance, broke into a private home at 2753 Sexton Place, in the Pelham section of the Bronx, on April 4, 1954. There they found Gertrude Pinsky, age 35, dead from septic poisoning from an illegal abortion. Gertrude, who had worked as a civilian employee at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, had been left fully clothed, propped up sitting in a chair.

Police arrested Florence Cavalluzzo, a former practical nurse and resident of the home, and Hugo Francese, a physician who had lost his license in 1947 related to, as far as I can determine, drug charges. Later arrested were Jack M. Werner, owner of Werner Surgical Supplies, and Ignatius Cavalluzzo, Florence Cavalluzzo's son, along with Mrs. Elizabeth Blum, a convicted abortionist who was promptly picked up for violating her parole.

Dr. Samuel E. Witt was charged with referring women to the ring, evidently run by Dr. Herbert S. Wolfe. Four doctors were charged with referring women and receiving a $30 kickback for each referral: Joseph F. Pacelli, Abraham Cohen, Kalman Molnar, and Poon Lim.

Francese and Florence Cavalluzzo were convicted of first-degree manslaughter in Gertrude's death and sentenced to 12 1/2 to 15 years for first degree manslaughter . A police detective, Valentine J. Stewart, found at the home at the time of the raid, was acquitted. Stewart's son, police patrolman Joseph F. Stewart, was also implicated as a conspirator in the ring.

Gertrude's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.


Mary Bradley, a 41-year-old mother of four, underwent a safe, legal 20-week abortion performed Dr. George Wayne Patterson in March of 1985.  Because of severe bleeding, she was admitted to a hospital and had a total hysterectomy on March 28. Mary developed blood clotting and respiratory difficulties, and finally died on April 4, 1985. According to official documents, another Alabama woman, Janyth Caldwell, died after an abortion performed by Patterson.  Patterson himself also suffered an early death at somebody else's hands. He was gunned down outside a pornography theater in an apparent gangland slaying. The Feminist Majority Foundation, and //Revolutionary Worker// lament the gangland shooting of an abortionist, while ignoring the fact that he himself had evidently killed two women, underscores where the abortion lobby's priorities are.

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