Sunday, November 01, 2015

One Criminal, Two Legal, All Tragic

On October 31, 1903, Miss Sophia Herman, a 23-year-old woman living with her sister in Chicago, finally relented after several days of illness and allowed a doctor to be summoned. Dr. H. L. Latimer examined her briefly then ordered her taken quickly to Norwegian Hospital, where she died in the early morning hours of November 1. This was a sad end for the young woman who had just immigrated from Germany 18 months earlier. A midwife, named either Hortensia or Harla Faustman was arrested November 2 and held without bail. Police said she'd been tending to Sophia for two weeks, though Faustman denied that she'd ever given care of any kind to Sophia. Franz Wehfritz was arrested as an accessory and held by the Coroners Jury on November 5, but he was later released. Note, please, that with general public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, seeAbortion Deaths 1900-1909.

On November 1, 1991, 21-year-old Anjelica Duarte underwent an abortion by Dr. Larry Thompson at Women's Place Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to one of Anjelica's friends, she had sought an abortion because a doctor had recommended that she delay having another baby for five years due to health problems. Anjelica already had a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old daughter. After the abortion, Anjelica was kept under observation for several hours, but was not given any care. She was rushed to the hospital by paramedics at 7:30 that evening, but she was dead on arrival. A hospital spokesman said that she had lost 90 percent of her blood; her uterus had been perforated. In reviewing the case, the medical board noted that Thompson did not have adequate equipment for post-operative care, and revoked his license. Anjelica's was not the only tragic death caused by doctors who recommended (or excused) abortion as a life-saving or health-preserving option for the mother: Allegra Roseberry was pushed into an abortion in order to obtain experimental cancer treatment;Barbara Hoppert died after an abortion recommended due to a congenital heart problem; Christin Gilbert died after an abortion George Tiller holds was justified on grounds of maternal health;Erika Peterson died in 1961 when her doctors obtained her husband's permission to perform a "therapeutic" abortion;"Molly" Roe died in 1975 when her doctors made the dubious decision to perform a saline abortion to improve her chances of surviving a lupus crisis.

"Susan" Roe is one of the women Life Dynamics notes on their "Blackmun Wall" of women killed by legalized abortion. According to Life Dynamics, they obtained confidential information from the CDC and state health officials about this 21-year-old Caucasian woman who died November 1, 1992, after a safe and legal abortion performed in Maine.

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