Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Outcomes For the Women Were the Same; It Was Different for the Pe

A headshot of a stern-looking middle-aged woman with a sailor collar and black hat
Dr. Lucy Hagenow

1926: Mary Moorehead and Dr. Lucy Hagenow

On November 29, 1926, 25-year-old stenographer Mary Moorehead died from a criminal abortion in the Chicago office of Dr. Lucy Hagenow. Hagenow was convicted of murder and sentenced to 14 years at Joliet Penitentiary, but was able to get her conviction overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial in 1929. The judge, noting that there was no new evidence, dismissed the case, telling Hagenow, "You had better make your peace with God, Lucy Hagenow. I do not think your months on earth are many."

Hagenow, who also went by the name of Louise or Louisa Hagenow, had a long and unsavory history of being involved in women's abortion deaths. The first were in San Francisco before Hagenow relocated to Chicago around 1890, where the legal atmosphere was more congenial to those of her trade. The abortion deaths Hagenow was linked to include:

1930: Dorothy Jasinski and an unidentified perpetrator

Seventeen-year-old Dorothy Jasinski was brought to St. Mary's Hospital in Chicago by two unidentified women on November 17, 1930. Dorothy was treated there until her death on November 29. The coroner determined that Dorothy had died from an abortion performed in Michigan City, Indiana, the day she'd been brought to the hospital. The coroner recommended identification of the person or persons responsible, and his or their arrest on charges of murder.

1954: Virginia Watson and Roger Brenon 

Headshot of a smiling young woman with curly hair
Virginia Watson
Swimming champion Virginia Hopkins Watson was 32 years old and hoping tobecome as big a Hollywood star as her former teammate, Esther Williams, when she learned that she was pregnant in 1954. Deciding that a baby would hurt her career, Virginia arranged an abortion. Roger Fred Brenon, a lay abortionist, came to the Watson home on November 18. Brenon had met Virginia when she had been working as a swimming instructor at a club Brenon attended.
After entering the living room with his large black bag, Brenon ordered Virginia's husband out of the room. A short time later Mr. Watson went into the kitchen and found Brenon boiling some sort of instruments on the stove.

Brenon returned to the living room, where Virginia was waiting for him. About an hour and a half later, Brenon permitted Mr. Watson to return to the living room where Virginia was sitting on the sofa. She told her husband to write a check for "cash" for $150 and give it to "Dr. Rogers," as Brenon was calling himself that evening.

A similar evening had been spent with Brenon at the Watson residence two years earlier.

Virginia became progressively more ill, with nausea and vomiting, but she refused to seek medical care, saying that she was just sick with worry over her mother's serious illness. By November 26Virginia was having trouble breathing and was hospitalized. She developed peritonitis which led to pneumonia and infection around her heart. She died on November 29.

And autopsy found that, evidently using the instruments he had been boiling in the kitchen, Brenon attempted an abortion, perforating Virginia's uterus in the process. Brenon confessed to police that he had put a tincture of green soap into Virginia's uterus, using a rubber catheter instead of his usual glass syringe. Virginia had most likely passed the fetus on the following day as her fatal illness set in. Brenon was convicted  of murder in Virginia's death.

1971: "Monica" and the safe, legal abortion provider

The criminal abortion deaths resulted in murder convictions for the identified perpetrators and an investigation to try to identify and prosecute a perpetrator for murder. The consequences for the safe, legal abortion death that took place on this date are dramatically different. In fact, for the abortionist, there was likely no unfavorable consequence whatsoever.

"Monica" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion.

According to LDI, Monica was a 31-year-old mother of five. She requested an abortion when she was 8 weeks pregnant, but the abortion was delayed about a month in order to address "some health, personal and administrative problems."

Her doctor decided that it was best to simply remove Monica's uterus with the fetus still in it. The hysterectomy was done under general anesthesia with no apparent complications. On the second day after surgery, Monica developed fever and nausea, and had no bowel sounds. The next day she felt unwell and had a distended abdomen. The next day, she felt better and resumed eating, but still had not had a bowel movement.

Six days after the surgery, November 26, 1971, Monica began to scream and vomit. She reported severe abdominal pain and couldn't see. Within an hour of the onset of these symptoms, Monica died.

The autopsy revealed grim findings. Monica had a severe infection that had interfered with her bowel function. As she continued to eat but not to have bowel movements, her bowels backed up, allowing gastric juices to enter her lungs and begin to digest them. She also had bacteria in her brain, which may have caused her blindness in the final hour of her life.

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