Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Repeat Offender in 1917, Shoved Out the Door to Die in 1986

On December 31, 1917, 40-year-old homemaker Victoria Chmileuski died in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated by Wilhemena Benn, whose profession is given only as "abortion provider," though she was actually a licensed midwife. Benn was acquitted on March 7, 1918. Benn had been previously charged in the June, 1916 abortion death of Rosie Kawera and the March 2, 1906 abortion death of Otilia Winker.

Fast-forward to 1986, the enlightened days of safe, legal abortion.

Arnold Bickham
Eighteen-year-old Sylvia Moore underwent a safe and legal abortion at the hands of Arnold Bickham on New Year's Eve of 1986 at his Urgent Medical Care Clinic in Chicago. She was in the second trimester of her pregnancy, but Bickham used a suction technique suitable for a first-trimester pregnancy.

According to Sylvia's mother, Sylvia was bleeding, weak, and unable to walk. When Sylvia tried to get to her feet and collapsed, Bickham called her "lazy," put her in a wheelchair, and physically ejected her from his Chicago clinic.

Sylvia's mother took her to a nearby hospital. Staff tried in vain to save Sylvia, who had arrived with no pulse and no blood pressure. An emergency hysterectomy was done to remove her lacerated uterus, which still had a plastic instrument embedded in a 6.5 cm laceration. Sylvia also had a 2.2 cm laceration of her vagina. Despite the surgery, she bled to death.

Bickham claimed that he "didn't think there was anything wrong" with Sylvia, and said that he'd merely been helping her with the wheelchair. He blamed Sylvia's death on the hospital. An attorney with the Department of Professional Regulation said, "This patient should never have been allowed to leave Bickham's clinic with her mother."

The postmortum report said: "The circumstances of injury, review of the Medical records, the findings at autopsy examination, and subsequent investigation of the circumstances of the case provide evidence of gross negligence and abandonment on the part of the original treating physician. In consideration of the above, the manner of death is determined to be Homicide." However, no charges were pressed against Bickham.

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