Friday, August 28, 2015

Illegal in 1926 and 1943

On August 28, 1926, 44-year-old Margaret Muscia died from a criminal abortion performed that day in Chicago. Mrs. Minnie Miller, alias Molinaro, was arrested on July 10 for Margaret's death. Minnie's profession is not given. On November 15, she was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury.

Naomi Congdon, age 21, was the wife of Donald Congdon, a sailor from Denver, stationed in Norman, Oklahoma. On July 27, 1943, Dr. Andrew Young examined Naomi and noted that she was pregnant, and also that she had an ingrown toenail that was infected. The infection, he said, was "minor". Naomi told her husband that she wanted to "do something" about the pregnancy. She even admitted to him that she had ingested turpentine to try to cause an abortion, but had vomited it back up. Donald objected to the idea of an abortion. On August 16, Donald found a note from his wife, telling him that she was at the home of Mrs. Lena Griffin Smith, a 63-year-old maternity nurse in Oklahoma City. Donald went there and found his wife in great pain. He contacted doctors at the naval base, who instructed him to have Naomi brought to the base hospital. Donald called an ambulance and rode with his wife to the hospital. Police raided Smith's practice at her residence, finding one woman in bed recuperating from an abortion, and another just arriving for "treatment" she had already paid for. Smith confessed that she had been operating an abortion business for about 15 years. She had an accomplice, Mrs. Pearl Green, who was also a nurse. Smith herself had attended medical school for two years. On August 19, a Navy doctor examined Naomi and found she had a fever of 103 from an infection that appeared to have started in her uterus. He administered sulfa drugs and blood transfusions. But despite the efforts of the Navy doctors, Naomi died of septicemia on August 28. Smith was charged with first-degree manslaughter. Her defense claimed that Naomi had already been feverish when she'd come for care, and that the fatal infection had originated in the ingrown toenail. The jury found Smith guilty, and recommended a 10-year sentence.


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