Monday, July 20, 2015

One Illegal, Two Safe-n-Legal

On July 20, 1913, Emma Chandler, age 20, died suddenly from complications of a criminal abortion perpetrated the previous day. In a deathbed statement, she named Dr. J.A. Richmond as her abortionist. Her husband, Ora, notified the police immediately after Emma's death. An investigation revealed that a friend had accompanied Emma to Richmond's practice. After the abortion Emma was driven home. When Ora got home he found Emma very weak. Overnight she became more and more ill. Around noon she realized that she was dying and sent for a neighbor, who remained by Emma's bedside, knitting and praying. Some time in the afternoon Emma confessed about the abortion to her husband. Ora sent for a doctor who lived across the street, but there was nothing he could do for her. Richmond was arrested in Denver for her death. During the inquest he said that he hadn't known that Emma was pregnant, but was operating on her, at her request, to relieve gynecological pain that he'd unsuccessfully treated with medications.

Barbara Riley was 23 years old when she chose a safe, legal abortion. She had a history of sickle cell anemia and three previous term pregnancies -- two live births and a stillborn child. She was in her first trimester of pregnancy when she underwent the abortion on July 11, 1970 at Harlem Hospital. The abortion had been recommended by hospital staff because Barbara had a history of sickle cell disease. The abortion would probably have been recommended as beneficial to Barbara's health, under New York's old abortion law; the new law just meant that they didn't need to legally justify going ahead with it. But instead of improving, Barbara's health deteriorated. Her blood started to break down. Nine days after the abortion, July 20, Barbara died. The other women I've identified as dying from sickle cell crisis triggered by an abortion are Margaret Davis and Betty Hines.

Referred by Clergy Consultation Services, 25-year-old Margaret Smith traveled from Michigan to New York for a safe and legal abortion because she had been exposed to rubella. Her abortionist, Jesse Ketchum, had run a criminal abortion practice in Michigan before carpetbagging to Buffalo when New York legalized abortion on demand. Ketchum performed a vaginal hysterotomy on Margaret at 10:30 the morning of June 16, 1971. A hysterotomy was like a c-section, but with the intention of allowing the fetus to die. Margaret was then left virtually unattended until her boyfriend returned at 2:00. He found Margaret unresponsive, and begged Ketchum and his staff to do something. Paramedics were summoned, but they were unable to revive Margaret. She was taken to a hospital across the street from Ketchum's office, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Margaret's vagina had been sutured, but a laceration in her uterus and cervix had not been repaired. She had bled to death. Ketchum was charged with criminally negligent homicide in Margaret's death. Before his case went to trial, he performed a similar abortion on Carole Schaner of Ohio. Carol suffered similar injuries had bled to death in her motel room after Ketchum discharged her. Ketchum was convicted for Margaret's death on October 26, 1973, despite the fact that renowned abortionist Milan Vuitch (who had challenged the District of Columbia abortion law) testified on his behalf. Margaret's parents sued him for $350,000.

Vuitch himself, like Ketchum, had kept his nose clean as a criminal abortionist, then gone on to kill two legal abortion patients. Wilma Harris and Georgianna English both died under Vuitch's care. Benjamin Munson, likewise, had a clean record in his criminal abortionist then went on to kill two women in his supposedly safer legal practice -- Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth.

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