Thursday, February 05, 2015

Four Wretched Deaths, 3 "Back-Alley," 1 "Safe and Legal"

On February 5, 1906, 15-year-old Mercedes Berriogobel, the daughter of the Mexican Consul in Chicago, died at Wesley Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated by a person, perhaps a doctor, whose name I've been unable to determine. Mercedes's father moved his family back to Mexico immediately after the inquest and was very uncooperative with the police as they investigated. The family admitted that Mercedes had gone to her mother with news of the pregnancy, the abortion attempt, or both. They had sought the care of Dr. Bayard Holmes, a highly reputable and respected physician, who admitted the girl to the hospital under a false name and performed an abortion there in an attempt to save her life. However, he failed to report the abortion to the authorities, who learned of it only after an undertaker tipped them off. News coverage indicates that the coroner had leads on the guilty party or parties but that the police never felt that they had enough evidence to prosecute.

On February 5, 1918, Carmile Ghant died at 3746 State Street in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated by two doctors, Ges. Miller and Robert J. Miller. There is some odd mention of the defendants being "Outside labor force (incl. criminals" and the business owner of a bar or saloon." It is therefore unclear if one or both of these doctors also owned a bar, or if the bar owner was somehow an accomplice in Carmile's death. Either way, the men were indicted on March 1, but the case never went to trial.

On January 29, 1929, Glasgow native Louise Allman, age 25, underwent an abortion at the home of Amelia K. Jaruez, a midwife. The address is also listed as a medical facility, so evidently she provided care to legitimate patients there as well. On February 5, Louise died, leaving behind a husband. Jaruez was held by the coroner on February 23, and indicted for homicide by a grand jury, but she was acquitted on July 2.

Carolina Gutierrez turned 21 while hospitalized for lingering complications of a abortion performed at Maber Medical Center in Miami on December 19, 1995. She had taken ill after the abortion but for several days had been unable to get the clinic to either answer the phone or return her messages. Finally she collapsed and her family called 911. After numerous amputations to try to stop gangrenous infection, Carolina died on February 5, 1996, leaving her two small children motherless.

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