Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, his nurse, Camille Ewald, his receptionist, Pearl Tense, and Dr. Max J. Weinstein, who was thought to have referred Madeline to Nisonoff, were arrested. At the time of Madlyon's death, Nisonoff was out on bail after being charged with performing another abortion, which the woman survived. During six hours of questioning, he denied any knowledge of Madlyon's death.
A man identified as Madlyon's friend, Henry Elters, was held as a material witness on $15,000 bail.
Elters told Assistant District Attorney James Carney that he and Madlyon they had gone to Nisonoff's office in Queens on November 13. They gave Nurse Ewald $600. She told Elters to "take a walk." He returned to find Madlyon resting on a couch.
On November 15, Elters was told that Madlyon needed a blood transfusion. She was admitted to Prospect Hospital as Betty McGee. After her death there, she was correctly identified by her sister, Mary, who had come came from the family home at Hazleton, PA, to claim Madlyon's body.
Nisonoff was sentenced to 5 years in state prison, and Weinstein was sentenced to the city penitentiary. As a result of the McGeehan case, the New York District Attorney's office began investigating other possible abortion rings in the city.
Madlyon's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician. , as were the fatal abortions of two other women whose deaths occurred on this date:
- Joyce Chorney, age 25, died on November 18, 1953. Fifty-four-year-old Dr. Alfred Joseph was charged with criminal abortion in her death.
- Dr. Lillian Hobbs was convicted of murder in the 1917 abortion death of 29-year-old Ellen Matson.
Abortion deaths dropped to 744 in 1945, then to 263 in 1950. This is between 2.6% and 5% of the abortion-rights claims.
Most researches attribute this plunge to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. And when you look at the trends, legalization didn't even make a blip on the line -- which makes sense, since 90% or more of pre-legalization abortions were being done by doctors, who would hardly close down their practices when the fear of prison was taken away. Learn more here.