Friday, December 30, 2016

Retroactively Safe Abortion

Retroactively Safe and Legal

"Sophia," age 19, traveled from Youngstown, Ohio, to Duquesne, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 27, 1969 to have an abortion performed by a Dr. Benjamin King. Sophia was a 19-year-old freshman at Ohio State University. She had gotten King's contact information from her boyfriend, who was also 19 years old. King put out word about his services on college campuses in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Sophia's boyfriend accompanied her to King's office. They made a down payment toward the $300 fee for the abortion. The young couple returned to Youngstown, where Sophia was admitted to South Side Hospital on December 29. She died the following day. King had perforated her cervix, causing both infection and hemorrhage.


Police had Sophia's boyfriend contact King, saying he had the rest of the money. When King came to collect, he was arrested. Though convicted and sentenced to prison, King's attorney won his freedom by citing the Roe vs. Wade decision striking down the abortion law.


A Possible Lay Abortionist in Chicago

On December 30, 1924, 21-year-old Agnes Nazar, an immigrant from Persia (modern-day Iran), died at Chicago's St. Joseph's Hospital from an abortion performed earlier that day. On January 6, 1925, Rogie Hatal was held by the coroner as the guilty abortionist. Hatal's profession is not listed. Mike Nazar, her husband, was arrested as an accessory, as was Sarah Babian. Hatal was indicted for felony murder on February 15, 1925. Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Planned Parenthood Medical Abortion and a Midwife in Chicago

Death Drugs from Planned Parenthood, 2003

Hoa Thuy "Vivian" Tran, like Holly Patterson, got abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood. Vivian,a 22-year-old teaching student from Fountain Valley, California age 22, followed the medical abortion protocol on December 23, 2003 after getting the drugs at the Costa Mesa, California Planned Parenthood.

On December 29, 2003, Vivian was vacationing with friends at a Las Vegas hotel and fell ill. She was rushed to a local hospital, where staff tried for 40 minutes to revive her, to no avail.

The autopsy showed that Vivian had died of sepsis caused by Clostridium sordelli bacteria in her uterus. Clostridium sordellii is a rare bacterium that can cause sudden severe toxic shock syndrome in previously healthy people.

Vivian‘s husband is suing the drug company, Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernadino Counties, and The Population Council Inc., in Orange County Superior Court. VIvian's death left him to raise their 5-year-old daughter alone.

Other women identified as having died of infection deaths after RU-486 deaths in the Los Angeles area: Chanelle Bryant, and Oriane Shevin. Chanelle got her abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood, and Oriane and Vivian got theirs from National Abortion Federation members.




A Midwife's Work in Chicago, 1907

On December 29, 1907, 19-year-old Marcie Mayer died in St. Elizabeth's hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Mary Bing, a midwife, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to Joliet. A man named John Mansfield was also held by the coroner's jury, but acquitted by the judge. Marcie's abortion was atypical in that it was not performed by a physician.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mystery Abortionist in Chicago, 1921

On December 28, 1921, 30-year-old housekeeper Belle Keehn died at the Chicago Lying-In Hospital from lung abscesses and septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by an unknown doctor on or about November 27.

Documents are unclear as to how it was determined that the perpetrator was a doctor. The hospital was a reputable facility, not a seedy abortionarium, so Belle would have received superior care as doctors tried to save her life.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A 1915 Abortion Death I Just Learned About

I stumbled across information about the following abortion death while looking for additional information on the death of Rose Kulamer.

In August of 1915, Dr. J. A. Williams of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania was summoned to the Pittsburgh home of 41-year-old midwife Marie Treylt to provide care for a sick woman.

Upon assessing the woman, 27-year-old Margaret McCreary of Hickory, Pennsylvania, Williams admitted her to Ohio Valley Hospital. Margaret died there on August 21. Four nurses at the hospital told police that Williams had indeed admitted Margaret, telling them to give her medication if she was in pain but providing no other care. No other doctor treated Margaret, the nurses said.

News clipping of headshot of a youngish-looking white woman wearing a big, pale hat
Police sought out Treytl, and found her nearly smothering in a hiding place between two mattresses in the home of someone identified in news coverage only as A. Mentzer. Treytl told police that Margaret had some to her house on August 17, seeking shelter. The midwife insisted that she had not perpetrated an abortion, but that Margaret had taken ill and she had summoned Dr. Williams to care for her.

Treylt's 17-year-old daughter, Adeline,told police that she wasn't home when Margaret had come to the house. Police, however, believed that she had guilty knowledge. Witness Bessie Hays told police that Adeline had come to her house asking her to tell police that Margaret had been staying at the Hays home. Bessie ordered Adeline out of her house.

The Treylt family servant, 18-year-old Marie Mentzer,told police that Margaret had actually come to the house on August 14. I have been unable to determine if the servant was a relative of the A. Mentzer in whose home the elder Treylt had been found.

All four parties were brought before the coroner. The doctor and the two younger women were released on bail, but Mrs. Treylt, already awaiting a grand jury action in another abortion case, was held without bail.

Mrs. Treylt would go on to be implicated in the 1918 abortion death of Rose Kulamer

Sources:

  • "Three Women and Doctor Held for Death of Girl," Pittsburgh Press, Aug. 23, 1915
  • "Four Arrested As Result of Girl's Death," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 23, 1915
  • "Coroner Holds Four After Woman's Death," Pittsburgh Daily Post, Aug. 24, 1915
  • "Mrs. Treytl is in Jail," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 24, 1915

Second Deaths Each for a Doctor and a Midwife

A Doctor's Second Dead Patient, 1932

In late December of 1932, 20-year-old schoolteacher Myrtle Gardner of Four Oaks, North Carolina checked into a Raleigh motel room with her brother-in-law, George D. Clifton. The two presented themselves as a married couple.The following day, the two went to the home of Mrs. Carrie C. Forsythe, where they were to meet 45-year-old Dr. Mike Roberson, of Durham, for an abortion.

After the abortion, Mrytle took ill. Clifton took her to a hospital, where she was admitted under the name Mrs. George Clifton. She died from septic infection caused by an incomplete abortion on the evening of December 26. Dr. P. G. Fox reported her death to the police after Mrytle gave a deathbed statement at the hospital to him, another doctor, and a nurse.

Mrs. Forsythe, age 63 and described as "a gray-haired, middle-aged Raleigh woman," was also charged with murder in Myrtle's death. She was convicted and sentenced to 2 to 3 years for counseling and procuring the abortion. She collapsed and had to be carried to her cell after hearing the sentence. She spent the night "in a highly hysterical condition. Mrs. Forsythe had been charged previously as an accessory to abortion. Clifton was charged as an accessory in Myrtle's death as well.

Roberson was originally charged with first degree murder for Myrtle's death, but the charge was reduced to second-degree murder. Roberson's wife provided his alibi, saying that he was at home sick the night Myrtle's abortion was perpetrated. His defense also asserted that the prosecution had not proved that Myrtle had actually been pregnant.

Roberson pleaded nolo contendere and was given a 3 to five year prison sentence. The medical board revoked his license, but successfully convinced the court to suspend his prison sentence with the stipulation that he never practice medicine again, both on the grounds that he'd no longer be a danger if he stopped doing abortions and on the grounds that he was suffering a heart ailment and thus would not fare well in prison.

This was Roberson's fourth arrest on abortion charges. He had been convicted in the 1928 abortion death of Irma Robinson, but won a new trial on appeal.



A Midwife's Second Dead Patient, 1918

Rose Kulamer's husband, John, said that on Saturday, November 30, 1918, she'd told him that she'd been to see “a woman in the West End Pgh.” who had used “a rubber tube” to cause an abortion. She was taken to Columbia Hospital in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania by ambulance on Monday, December 2.

According to Dr. Sidney A. Chalfant, 33-year-old Rose denied an abortion on admission, but later admitted that she and a friend had gone to a woman on Pittsburgh's South Side for an abortion. Her uterus was enlarged to three months, her cervix was dilated to admit two fingers, and a large piece of cotton, that had evidently been present “for some time,” was in her vagina.

Rose was taken to the operating room, where the dead three- to four-month fetus was removed and her cervix was packed with gauze. The next day surgery was performed to remove the placenta.

Over the next four to five days, Rose's temperature fell to normal, but then it started to rise again. Rose reported pain in her lower left leg from old inflamed varicose veins. Her temperature rose and stayed elevated for about two weeks, then fell and remained normal for about five days.

On Christmas morning, Rose seemed fine, but around midnight on Christmas night Chalfant was called in because Rose's condition had taken a sudden downturn. He arrived to find that she had vomited and been incontinent in both her bowels and bladder. She was unconscious, with a weak, irregular pulse. Chalfant diagnosed a pulmonary embolism and remained with Rose for about an hour, during which she seemed to be improving. But the next time Chalfant checked on her, she was showing signs of brain damage from an embolism. She held on until about 1 p.m. December 26. She left five children motherless.


News clipping headshot of a youngish white woman wearing a tall, pale-colored hat
Dr. Charles Schildecker performed the autopsy in the hospital morgue. Rose, 5'6” and 175 pounds, showed no external marks of injury. However, her fallopian tubes and ovaries were enlarged and gangrenous, especially on the left. The lining of her uterus was inflamed, gangrenous, and decomposed. Her pelvic veins were filled with septic thrombi. All of her pelvic tissues were highly inflamed, showing signs of recent pregnancy. Schildecker determined that the cause of death had been septicemia from an abortion. The coroner's jury recommended that the person responsible, the mysterious woman on the South Side, be identified and arrested.

Police identified the mystery woman as midwife Marie Treytl. At the time of Rose's death, another of Treytl's patients was in critical condition herself as a result of an abortion. Treytl had also been implicated in the 1915 abortion death of Margaret McCreary.

Treytl had previously been implicated in the 1915 abortion death of Margaret McCreary.

Friday, December 23, 2016

From Doctors in New York to a Lover in Michigan

Safe and Legal in New York, 1970

"Kimberly" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. Kimberly was 25 years old and 18 weeks pregnant when she underwent a safe, legal abortion under the new law, in New York City on December 23, 1970. During the abortion, she went into cardiac arrest and died, leaving behind two children.

The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to "Kimberly," these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:


One of a String of Dr. Brewer's Dead, Oklahoma, 1931

Newspaper clipping of a bald, middle-aged white man wearing round black spectacles, in 3/4 profile and with a grim facial expression
Dr. Guy E. Brewer
On June 7, 1935, Dr. Guy E. Brewer pleaded guilty to six counts of manslaughter for the deaths of six women who died from complications of abortions he had perpetrated. He was sentenced to serve six consecutive four-year terms. He spent his incarceration working in the prison hospital. One of those young women was Myrtle Rose, age 21, of Ponca City, Oklahoma, on December 23, 1931. The other women include Hermoine Fowler, Ruby Ford, Doris Jones, Elizabeth Shaw, and Wanda Lee Gray.

Brewer was sentenced to six four-year sentences, to run concurrently, for six abortion deaths. The likely reason that he got such a light sentence was his extreme popularity for his benevolence in putting local young men through college. So beloved was Brewer that one victim's husband was fired in retaliation for reporting his wife's death to the police.


Body Dumped by New York Physician, 1934

On Christmas day of 1934, the nude body of a young woman was found under a pile of leaves in a thicket near a highway south of New York City. Eventually the date of death was determined to be December 23.


News clipping headshot of a young white woman with blonde hair coiffed in a 1930s style
Loretta Wilson
Laura and Joseph Devine, whose 19-year-old daughter, Loretta Wilson, had been missing since December 19, contacted authorities and were able to positively identify the body. An autopsy revealed that she had bled to death from complications of an abortion

Loretta had left home at noon on the 19th, telling the landlady that she was going to see a doctor. Her husband of two years, William, knew better. Though initially he'd denied even knowing that Loretta had been pregnant, he later said he'd paid Dr. John H. Becker Jr., age 52, $55 for the abortion. He added that his wife's friend, Kay Dinger, had been present when the transaction took place.

Becker admitted to having been paid $2 for examining Loretta on December 17, but denied perpetrating the abortion. He said that she was supposed to return on the 18th but failed to show up. However, his assertion that he'd not seen Loretta after the 17th was challenged by a witness who picked Becker out of a lineup of seven men as the one he'd seen standing by a car near the area where Loretta's body was found.

Becker was found guilty and sentenced to between 18 months and three years in Sing-Sing.



Fatal Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1909

"Sadie," identified in the source document as "Mrs. D," was 39 years old in November of 1909 when she either had a miscarriage or an illegal abortion. Five weeks later, on December 21, she was admitted to Cook County Hospital. She was vomiting and obviously very ill. Her pulse was 108, her respirations 28, her temperature 100 degrees.

The next day her temperature had fallen to 97.6, and her pulse and respirations had increased to 132 and 30, respectively. For reasons the document doesn't provide, she endured slightly over two hours of surgery during which surgeons removed both of her Fallopian tubes, drained her pelvic cavity, then curetted her uterus and packed it with alcohol gauze. The surgery sent her into shock and she died 14 hours later, either on December 22 or December 23.



Dead at her Lover's Hands, 1885

Harry McDowell began calling at the home of Dr. Truman Sawdy of Howard City, about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to visit Dr. Sawdy's 21-year-old daughter, Sylvia. McDowell usually came on Sundays and in the evening, and also corresponded with Sylvia.

On December 10, 1885, Sylvia went to Grand Rapids by train, ostensibly to visit McDowell's mother. Dr. Sawdy heard nothing more from or about his daughter until the morning of Christmas Eve, when McDowell's father came to him, saying that he'd gotten a telegram or telephone call from his son. The senior McDowell said that Harry had told him that Sylvia was very sick and wanted her mother, Cornelia, to go to her.

Dr. Sawdy read the next day in the newspaper that his daughter was dead.

It came out in the trial that in November, Sylvia had consulted with Drs. Bodle, Hake, and Bradish, indicating that she was pregnant. Evidence indicated that McDowell had performed an abortion on Sylvia on December 23, and that she died that day. McDowell was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

From Screwed-up Anesthesia in 1997 to Unspecified Complications in 1915

Careless in Maryland, 1997

Headshot of a middle-aged Black man with a receeding hairline. He is wearing a suit and tie and his short hair is graying at the temples.
Earl McLeod
Dr. Earl McLeod was disciplined by the Maryland medical board over the death of an abortion patient on December 21, 1997. A now-defunct group called WAKE-UP identified her by name -- Jennifer M. Halner -- but do not indicate where they learned her identity. The Social Security Death Index does indeed show a Jennifer M. Halner, 27 years old, died in Maryland on December 21, 1997, which does tend to confirm their identification.

On December 20, 1997, the 27-year-old woman went to Potomac Family Planning for a safe, legal abortion, to be performed by D&C. She was 6 weeks pregnant. She had no significant medical or surgical history, but had undergone a prior abortion performed by McLeod in 1995, under general anesthesia, with no complications.

McLeod's anesthesiologist, identified in records only as Dr. K., started an IV, and the woman was hooked up to a cardiac monitor, blood pressure monitor, and pulse oximeter. Dr. K administered Versed (for sedation and memory impairment), Sublimaze (a short-acting narcotic used for short-duration pain control), Propofol (a sedative for anesthesia), with Lidocaine, a local anesthetic.

Jennifer breathed on her own during the entire five minutes of the abortion. She was transferred to recovery at 10:10 a.m., still unconscious but breathing on her own. Her blood pressure was charted as 112/60 (normal), but her pulse was 103 (very rapid). A nurse identified only as Nurse W put an oxygen mask on the patient, but she was taken off the cardiac monitor and pulse oximeter when she was moved to recovery.

After Jennifer's vital signs were documented, another nurse, identified as Nurse H, took the blood pressure cuff off of her and put it on another patient.

Meanwhile, McLeod was in a second procedure room, doing an abortion on another patient.

At around 10:20 a.m., Nurse W noticed that Jennifer was still unresponsive. She told a nursing assistant to get Zoloft (an antidepressant) from the anesthesiologist, who was still in the second procedure room with McLeod. As the assistant was leaving, Nurse W change the request to one for Zofran (an antiemetic). Then Nurse W went into the procedure room herself to get the Zofran.

Dr. K gave the Zofran to Nurse W without evaluating the patient. There was no record that Jennifer had suffered any nausea or vomiting to warrant the drug in question. At about 10:25, Nurse W administered Zofran to Jennifer through her IV. Not surprisingly, administering an antiemetic did nothing to revive her.

Nurse W returned to the procedure room and asked Kr. K for Romazicon, a more appropriate drug, since it is used to reverse the effects of drugs used for anesthesia. Dr. K again provided the drug to Nurse W without examining the patient.

Nurse H went to take Jennifer's blood pressure, and she realized she couldn't find a pulse, and that the patient's pupils were dilated. She fetched Dr. K to assess his patient immediately. He found her unresponsive, with a blood pressure an alarmingly low 60/40. He stared a second IV and began to perform CPR, using a pediatric-sized bag-valve mask. Nurse H took over ventilating Jennifer, continuing to use the pediatric-sized bag-valve mask. This device would be unable to pump sufficient air into the lungs of a normal-sized adult.

Meanwhile, McLeod performed two other procedures before finally entering the recovery room and finding his staff performing inadequate CPR on his patient. He administered additional IV medications, and said that Jennifer was hooked up to an EKG monitor even though there was no documentation whatsoever of her cardiac rhythm. She was also not hooked up to a pulse oximeter that would tell the staff how much oxygen was in her blood. A pulse oximeter is standard monitoring for post-surgical patients and for patients needing emergency care; failure to use it on this patient was inexplicable. Also, despite the presence of two doctors, two nurses, and at least one nurses' assistant, nobody documented respiration, lung sounds, or any neurological evaluation, all standard for treating an unresponsive patient.

Dr. K told somebody to administer Epinephrine, Ephedrine, and Lidocaine -- all appropriate drugs for treating a patient in cardiac arrest.

Finally, at around 10:42 a.m., McLeod told somebody to call 911 -- something that should have been done as soon as she was found to be unresponsive. Paramedics arrived and found Jennifer in cardiac arrest. The anesthesiologist could not tell them anything about the patient's heart electrical activity, which he should have been noting on the EKG. They noted the use of a pediatric bag-valve mask, and the fact that nobody had put a breathing tube into the patient to ensure that air was being pumped into her lungs and not her stomach.

The medics immediately began appropriate resuscitation, intubating Jennifer, ventilating her with an adult-sized bag=valve mask, hooking her up to a cardiac monitor, defibrillating her, and administering appropriate drugs.

The medics transported Jennifer to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, arriving at 11:09 a.m. The ER physician noted that the patient's pupils were fixed and dilated. After aggressive resuscitative efforts by ER staff, Jennifer's heart was restored to a stable rhythm, and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. But despite their best efforts, she died at 4:15 a.m. on December 21.

The appalled paramedics reported McLeod to the medical board, which faulted him with failure to provide adequate and readily-available post-operative monitoring equipment, and failure to provide adequate emergency supplies. The board also required him to get his staff properly certified in CPR.

McLeod also ran the Hillcrest abortion mill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Kelly Morse had died in 1996 after being inadequately resuscitated. Kelly's husband filed suit, noting, "No respiration rate was recorded, no pulse was checked and no blood pressure was measured. No EKG was applied. No cardiac monitoring was conducted. No pulse oximeter was applied. No intubation or emergency tracheotomy was performed." Evidently McLeod chose not to learn from Kelly's death the lessons that would have saved this Maryland patient's life.



The First Known FPA Death, 1970

Denise J. Holmes, a 24-year-old Australian woman living in Texas, decided to undergo a safe and legal abortion at Avalon Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on her way home for Christmas of 1970. Denise checked into Avalon Hospital (an abortion facility owned by Edward Campbell Allred) on December 21. Denise suffered an amniotic fluid embolism that carried pieces of fetal bone marrow into her lungs. She was pronounced dead by Edward Allred at Avalon at 5pm.

Denise is the first confirmed abortion death at an Allred facility, before the National Abortion Federationwas founded, with Allred's Family Planning Associates Medical Group as a member.

Other women known to have died after abortion at Allred's facilities include:

I suspect that the reason the deaths appear in clusters is because those are years that researchers checked for lawsuits, rather than that these are all the women and girls who died at Allred facilities. Anybody with the time and resources to do so could probably uncover other deaths Allred and his staff have managed to sweep under the carpet.


Two Early 20th Century Chicago Deaths

On December 11, 1926, fifteen-year-old Emily Mueller underwent a criminal abortion somewhere in Chicago. She died on December 21. Midwife Magdelane Stegeman, maiden name Motzny, was booked on December 28. The coroner initially cleared Stegeman. She was nevertheless indicted for felony murder by the Grand Jury on February 15, 1927. Stegeman was later implicated in the 1941 abortion death of Rose Smith.

On December 21, 1915, 34-year-old Mrs. Anna Hunt died at Chicago's Rhodes Avenue Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated that day by an unknown person.

Note, please, that with overall 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. In fact, during the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Midwife's Work in 1920s Chicago

On December 13, 1926, 23-year-old Chicago native Mary Paradowski underwent a criminal abortion.  She died on December 20 at Chicago Hospital.  On January 15, 1927, midwife Josephine Petrova was indicted for felony murder in Mary's death.  Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.  For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

Friday, December 16, 2016

Strings of Abortion Deaths, Legal and Illegal


1998: A Lingering Death

A high school photo of an Hispanic girl with fluffy hairVenus Ortiz died in a nursing from lingering abortion complications at age 29 on December 16, 1998. The abortion had been performed five years earlier by Dr. Leiber at Eastern Women's Center, a National Abortion Federation clinic in New York, NY.  Her family asserted that there was negligence in administering anesthesia to Venus, and failure to establish an airway. Brevital, fentanyl, and midazolam were administered in dosages and manners contrary to standards of practice, causing Venus to suffer a synergistic reaction. Eastern's staff failed to promptly diagnose and attend to cardio-pulmonary arrest. Eastern's notes of 5:35 PM indicate "2:35 PM end of surgery ... we noticed patient's ashen color and the pulse oximeter tracing and digital readout were gone from the monitor." Emergency medical services were called. However, the damage had already been done. Venus was left in permanent need of respirator, with profound brain damage. Two other patients, Dawn Ravenelle and Dawn Mack, also died of complications of abortions done at Eastern Women's Center.

Other women who suffered severe brain injuries and died years later from those abortion complications include
  • Suzanne Logan, who languished, mute and paralyzed, for three years until her death on in December of, 1992
  • Shelby Moran, who was cared for in a nursing home for over 20 years until her death in September of 1999
  • "Gabriella Alonso," who spent six years in a coma until her death in the summer of 2002
  • Christi Stile, who spent nearly 22 years in a vegetative state until her death in March of 2015


1984: One of Sixteen Deaths at a Reputable Chain of Clinics

Mary Pena died December 16, 1984, only one of 16 women to die from abortions at this chain of National Abortion Federation member clinics. The graphic features the FPA logo and a list of the other 15 women: Denise holmes, Patricia Chacon, Josefina Garcia, Laniece Dorsey, Tami Suematsu, Joyce Ortenzio, Deanna Bell, Susan Levy, Christina Mora, Ta Tanisha Wesson, Nakia Jorden, Maria Leho, Kimberly Neil, Maria Rodriguez, and Chanelle Bryant.On December 15, 1984, Mary Pena, a 43-year-old mother of five, underwent a safe and legal abortion at San Vincente Hospital in Los Angeles. Mary had thought that she was 3 months pregnant, but doctors discovered she was at 22 weeks. During the procedure, performed by Ruben Marmet, Mary sustained two cervical lacerations, and because she was bleeding heavily, a hysterectomy was performed in an effort to save her life. Hospital owner Dr. Edward Allred and another physician, Sohn Soon, were assisting Marmet with the emergency surgery. They were unable to locate a severed artery so they packed Mary's abdomen with sponges and closed the incision. Mary continued to bleed, so the surgical team called in another doctor who tried to repair the damaged artery, but to no avail. Mary died on the table in the early morning hours of December 16. The Investigator's Report states, "Dr. Allred cleared the case with Coroner and body was released to the family picked mortuary ... and services held. When the death certificate was taken to Kern County Health Department they refused to accept it and called the case to Los Angeles Coroner. ... Mortuary in Bakersfield will bring body to this office for autopsy on morning of 12-20-84."

Only then was cause of death attributed to exsanguination due to cervical laceration due to therapeutic abortion. The cervix showed two lacerations - a small one that had been sutured and a large unsutured one extending through the full ring of the cervix. Once a cause for the fatal hemorrhage was determined, the death certificate was accepted, and Mary was laid to rest again.

San Vicente had been purchased by National Abortion Federation member Familiy Practice Associates Medical Groupshortly before Mary's death.


1981: Safe and Legal in a New York Hospital

Barbara Auerbach was 38 years old when she went to a New York hospital for a safe, legal abortion and tubal ligation, performed December 11, 1981. Two days later, she was discharged. On December 16, Barbara was vomiting and suffering from back pain and inability to void her bladder. She was admitted to Princeton Medical Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Doctors there tried in vain to save her life, but she died within three hours of being admitted. The autopsy showed that Barbara had an obstruction of her small bowel, which caused massive infection throughout her body.


1925: Another Victim of the Infamous Dr. Lucy Hagenow


On December 16, 1925, 22-year-old Irish immigrant factory worker Bridget Masterson died in her Chicago home from a botched abortion. Police were able to question Bridget prior to her death, but she refused to implicate anybody. John O'Malley, a boarder and the father of Bridget's baby, committed suicide by gas after learning of Bridget's death. The Chicago Tribune printed the text of the suicide note he left which implicated notorious abortionist Dr. Lucy Hagenow. Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dorris, Abbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths:
A newspaper photo of a middle-aged white woman in a sailor-style outfit and round wire-rimmed glasses.
Dr. Lucy Hagenow

1923: One of Five Dead Patients of a Chicago Physician

On December 7, 1923, 19-year-old Hazel Hadicke of Arkansas City, Kansas, checked into a Wichita hotel. She remained in the room almost constantly and died under the care of Dr. Charles C. Keester on December 16. He attributed her death to heart disease. Abortion was certainly suspected, since Keester had already been implicated in the abortion death of Hattie Myers, age 19, in 1922.  Other abortion deaths attributed to Keester are Loren Franklin, age 19, August, 1924; "Bonnie," age 18, August, 1924; and Rena Armstrong, age 17, February, 1930.


1874: A Brooklyn Midwife's Fatal Work

Christina Seifred, aged around 34, died on December 16, 1874 from complications of an abortion perpetrated by Brooklyn midwife-abortionist Johanna White. Christine had been unfaithful to her husband when he was away in Europe, and when he returned and learned of the pregnancy, he left her. Police arranged a sting and arrested White.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Criminal Practice vs. Safe and Legal


There are two deaths from the Cemetery of Choice that took place on this date. I know little about the first, an illegal abortion death, but have an abundance of information about the woman who died on this date from a safe, legal abortion.

The Bad Old Days

On December 1, 1928, 23-year-old Esther Wahlstrom died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Lou E. Davis (pictured) was held by the coroner for murder by abortion on December 12. She was indicted for felony murder on December 15. Davis was also implicated in the abortion deaths of Anna Adler , Mary WhitneyAnna BorndalIrene Kirschner, and Gertrude Gaesswitz.

Fast forward over sixty years to the enlightened days of safe, legal abortion.

Safe and Legal

Susanne Logan died a long, lingering death after she went to Maryland's Hillview abortion clinic for an abortion on September 9, 1989. Her abortion was performed by Gideon Kioko. She was 13 weeks pregnant. There was no record of how much intravenous Brevital was administered to Susanne, or who administered the drug. There was also no record of any examination to determine of this drug was appropriate for Suzanne.

Susanne was already unconscious on the table when Kioko and his nurse entered the procedure room. Kioko was being assisted by an unlicensed nurse, who noted that Susanne's lips were turning blue. She told Kioko, who continued with the abortion procedure. There is no record that anybody monitored her vital signs or administered oxygen during the procedure. Only after the abortion was finished did anybody do anything to address Suzanne's respiratory arrest.

Eventually somebody summoned emergency medical services (EMS). The EMS personnel reported that the Hillview employees seemed "very confused and did not seem to know what they were doing." EMS staff also noted that Hillview staff had put an oxygen mask on Suzanne upside-down, so that she wasn't getting any oxygen.

Susanne was cyanotic (she had turned blue from lack of oxygen), her pupils were dilated. She was limp, and had no pulse and was not breathing. EMS workers managed to perform CPR and get Suzanne's heart and lungs working again, and transported her to a hospital.

Susanne remained comatose and was transferred to a nursing home. Four months after the abortion, she regained consciousness, but was paralyzed and unable to speak. She had no memory of the abortion, but was able to eventually recall having gone to the clinic.

Local prolifers visited Susanne, and bought her a device that allowed her to communicate. She was interviewed by 60 Minutes, and asked what she wanted. She replied, "To go home."

Susanne filed suit against Kioko and the clinic. In November of 1992, she finally won her suit, and was awarded $2.6 million and $10,000 a month for life, to cover her expenses. Sadly, Susanne died on December 1, before she had a chance to fulfill her wish of seeing her father again.

Debra Gray also died after an abortion at Hillview under circumstances almost identical to the chain of events that fatally injured Susanne.


A Blind Eye

The TV show 60 Minutes learned that abortion-rights organizations had long known hos seedy Hillview was. They interviewed Barbara Radford, then-president of the National Abortion Federation, she defended the head-in-the-sand attitude the organization took toward safety issues by saying, "We want to make sure that women have choices when it comes to abortion services, and if you regulate it too strictly, you then deny women access to the service." When they asked pro-choice Maryland State Senator Mary Boergers why nothing was being done to address dangerous abortion clinics. Boergers said, "There's only so much of a willingness to try to push a group like the pro-choice movement to do what I think is the responsible thing to do because they then treat you as if you're the enemy."

The political goal of "access" trumped the bodies and lives of women like Susanne and Debra. Is the abortion lobby devoted to women's access to safe abortions, or abortionists' access to vulnerable women?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Gamut of Abortion Deaths in Chicago

At around 2 p.m. on November 30, 1874, Charles A. Dix went to the Madison Street police station in Chicago to report that his wife, 25-year-old Mary Dix, had died at around 12:30 that morning at their home on West Randolph Street. He told the police that Dr. W. T. Aiken had perpetrated an abortion on Mary. After an intensive investigation, however, a coroner's jury concluded that Mary had performed the abortion herself, and Aiken had only been treating her afterward.

On April 2, 1912, 25-year-old homemaker Elizabeth Jorgeson died from an abortion perpetrated that day by Katie Sauer, whose profession is not given. Sauer was held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted by a Grand Jury on November 30. The case never went to trial.

On October 27, 1926, 34-year-old Sophie Peterson underwent an illegal abortion in the Chicago office of Dr. Frederick Springe.  She was taken to Mercy Hospital, where she died on November 30.  Springe was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury on December 15.

On November 30, 1927, 22-year-old homemaker Lucille van Iderstine died in the Chicago office of Dr. Emil Gleitsman (pictured) from an abortion that had been performed on her that day. Gleitsman was indicted for felony murder in Lucille's death on January 15, 1928.  Lucille's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. Evidently Gleitsman beat the rap on Lucille's death because he was later implicated in the abortion deaths of Jeanette Reder in 1930, Mary Colbert in 1933, and Marie O'Malley and Maggie Doe in 1942.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

From Safe and Legal to the Last Known Hagenow Victim

Safe and Legal in 1971

"Monicawas a 31-year-old mother of five. She requested an abortion when she was 8 weeks pregnant, but the abortion was delayed about a month in order to address "some health, personal and administrative problems." The abortion was scheduled for November 20, 1971.

Her doctor decided that it was best to simply remove Monica's uterus with the fetus still in it. The hysterectomy was done under general anesthesia with no apparent complications.

On the second day after surgery, Monica developed fever and nausea, and had no bowel sounds. The next day she felt unwell and had a distended abdomen. The next day, she felt better and resumed eating, but still had not had a bowel movement.

Six days after the surgery, November 26, Monica began to scream and vomit. She reported severe abdominal pain and couldn't see. Within an hour of the onset of these symptoms, Monica died.

The autopsy revealed grim findings. Monica had a severe infection that had interfered with her bowel function. As she continued to eat but not to have bowel movements, her bowels backed up, allowing gastric juices to enter her lungs and begin to digest them. She also had bacteria in her brain, which may have caused her blindness in the final hour of her life.


Aspiring Star Dies from Abortion, 1954

Virginia Watson
Virginia Hopkins Watson, an Illinois native, had been on a record-setting relay swimming team with Esther Williams in 1939, and had herself set the world's fifty-meter record in 1938. Virginia was 32 years old and pursuing a Hollywood career when she became pregnant in 1954.Deciding that a baby would hurt her career, Virginia arranged to have an abortion on November 18. An investigation uncovered that she had arranged for a lay abortionist, Roger Fred Brenon, to come to her house and perform the abortion there, while Virginia's husband, Arthur, carefully avoided learning too much about what was going on even after obsrving Brenon in the kitchen evidently sterilizing some instruments  by boiling them on the stove. At Virginia's instruction, Arthur also wrote a check payable to cash for $150 and gave it to Brenon.

After the abortion, Virginia became sick with vomiting and bleeing before passing the dead fetus. By November 26, Virginia had difficulty in breathing and was taken to California Hospital. On November 29th she was transferred to the General Hospital. She died there of massive infection.

In telling the authorities about the events that led to his wife's death, he indicated that Brenon had visited Virginia two years earlier, spent time alone with her, and went off with a check Arthur had written. During  both visits, Arthur said, he'd been under the impression that Brenon was a physician named Rogers. Brenon was convicted of second-degree murder. in Virginia's death.


An Unknown Perp in Chicago, 1930

Seventeen-year-old Dorothy Jasinski was brought to St. Mary's Hospital in Chicago by two unidentified women on November 17, 1930. Dorothy was treated there until her death on November 29. The coroner determined that Dorothy had died from an abortion performed in Michigan City, Indiana, the day she'd been brought to the hospital. The coroner recommended identification of the person or persons responsible, and his or their arrest on charges of murder.

The Last Know Victim of Dr. Lucy Hagenow, 1926

On November 29, 1926, 25-year-old stenographer Mary Moorehead died from a criminal abortion in the Chicago office of Dr. Lucy Hagenow. Hagenow was arrested November 13. She was sentenced to 14 years at Joliet Penitentiary, but was able to get her conviction overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial in 1929.

The judge, noting that there was no new evidence, dismissed the case, telling Hagenow, "You had better make your peace with God, Lucy Hagenow. I do not think your months on earth are many."  


Lucy Hagenow
Hagenow, who also went by the name of Louise or Louisa Hagenow, had a long and unsavory history of being involved in women's abortion deaths. The first were in San Francisco before Hagenow relocated to Chicago around 1890. The abortion deaths Hagenow was linked to include:

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Death in the Dakota Territories, 1888

Mrs. George Libby, age 18, died November 28, 1888, in Wahpeton in the Dakota territories.
Before her death she admitted that she had bought abortifacient drugs from "a traveling doctor who made a specialty of selling such drugs."

I have been unable to determine Mrs. Libby's given name.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Fatality in an Abortion Ring, 1942

On November 18, 1942, 26-year-old Madlyon McGeehan, an OPA employee who had been living in Washington DC., died at Prospect Hospital in New York of peritonitis after an illegal abortion.

Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, age 58, was arrested for homicide and held on $150,000 bail. His nurse, Camille Ewald, was held on $150,000 bail. His receptionist, Pearl Tense, and Dr. Max J. Weinstein, who was thought to have referred Madeline to Nisonoff, were also arrested.

At the time of Madlyon's death, Nisonoff was out on bail after being charged with performing another abortion, which the woman survived. During six hours of questioning, he denied any knowledge of Madlyon's death.

A man identified as Madlyon's friend, Henry Elters, was held as a material witness on $15,000 bail.

Elters reportedly told Assistant District Attorney James Carney that he had known Madlyon for about seven years, and that they had gone to Nisonoff's office in Queens on November 13. They gave Ewald $600. She told Elters to "take a walk." He returned to find Madlyon resting on a couch.

On November 15, Elters was told that Madlyon needed a blood transfusion. She was admitted to Prospect Hospital as Betty McGee. After her death there, she was correctly identified by her sister, Mary, who had come came from the family home at Hazleton, PA, to claim Madlyon's body.

Nisonoff was sentenced to 5 years in state prison, and Weinstein was sentenced to the city penitentiary.

As a result of the McGeehan case, the New York District Attorney's office began investigating other possible abortion rings in the city.

Madlyon's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Terrible Surprise: Thanksgiving, 1986

The Dreadful Thanksgiving Surprise, 1986

Eighteen year old Michelle Madden, a freshman at Mobile College, sought a safe and legal abortion from O.B. Evans at Family Planning Medical Center of Mobile, Alabama. It was performed on November 18, 1986. According to the friend who had accompanied Michelle to the abortion facility, Michelle had chosen abortion because a doctor had told her that her baby would have birth defects due to Michelle's epilepsy medication.

That very day, Michelle's parents were preparing to go to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. Madden's brother. They got a call from Michelle's roommate telling them that their daughter was sick.

"We didn't think anything of it. We told her we were going to come the next day to pick her up," Michelle's mother told the Mobile Press Register. But before they could leave home the next day, the house mother at the dorm called, asking if Michelle had gynecological problems. Again, the parents weren't particularly concerned. At that point, they weren't even aware that their daughter had been pregnant.

When they arrived at the dorm, they were told that Michelle was in the hospital. "We called the hospital and they said she was in surgery." They were at the hospital for an hour until the doctor finally came to them and told them that Michelle had undergone an abortion. When they were operating on Michelle, doctors told her parents, they found a leg bone, two pieces of skull, and some placenta still in Michelle's uterus.

"From what he told me at that point," said Mrs. Madden, a nurse, "I knew that for her to live would be a miracle, on the order of the Lord raising Lazarus from the dead. She was in such bad shape I didn't see how she could make it."

Michelle's mother was sadly right. Sepsis had already set in, and Michelle remained on life support dying on November 24. Her parents sued Evans and the facility, and in 1991 a jury awarded them $10 million in damages. 


Two Early 20th Century Chicago Deaths

On November 24, 1916, 24-year-old Mrs. M. Marazak died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

On November 24, 1907, homemaker Lizzie Paulson, age 38, died at County Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed that day. John and Minnie Nelson were arrested and held without bail. John Nelson was sentenced to Joliet for his role in Lizzie's death. John Nelson's profession is given as "outside labor force" and "abortion provider", so likely he was a professional lay abortionist.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Self-Induced and Illegal Abortion Deaths Spanning a Century

Self-Induced in Colorado, 1978

On November 15, 1978, 18-year-old "Sharon" was admitted to the Denver General Hospital emergency room. She was suffering from nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Her mood was alternating between agitation and lethargy. She reported having believed that she was pregnant -- though she had menstruated only three weeks previously -- and drinking two half-ounce bottle of pennyroyal oil. Since she had also been seriously depressed, doctors were unsure whether to consider her ingestion of pennyroyal as an abortion attempt or as a suicide attempt.

Sherran had used pennyroyal tea in the past to start her periods when she'd thought that she was pregnant. She'd become ill within a few hours of drinking the oil.

A medical botanist, Dr. Walter Lewis, wrote about the case:

Within two hours she vomited blood and bled from the vagina and eyes. By the third day her liver was damaged. On the sixth day, she sank into a coma and died on the seventh day.
This would indicate that Sharon died on November 22.

Upon autopsy it became clear that Sharon had not even been pregnant. The pennyroyal oil had done such serious damage to her liver that portions of it had died. During her hospitalization she, like Kris Humphry, had developed disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC, a disorder in which the blood can no longer clot). It was eventually the hemorrhagic damage to her liver that caused her death.

The Centers for Disease Control investigated Sharon's death, along with other deaths from illegal abortion. They concluded that she, like the others whose deaths they studied, had sought an abortion outside the medical establishment for "idiosyncratic reasons." 


Two Chicago Deaths, 1917 and 1913

On November 22, 1917, 20-year-old Helen Devora died at Chicago's West End Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

Four years to the day earlier, 33-year-old Hulda Tubbin died in Chicago, at the scene of an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Olaf Olson. Though Olson was indicted for felony murder, the case never went to trial.

Fishy Goings-On in California, 1897


On November 23, 1897, a funeral procession in Irvington, California, was stopped just as about the body was being loaded onto a ferry. The deceased was 24-year-old Ida Coakley, a homemaker who had only been married to John Coakley, a farmer, for two months. John reported that he'd taken her to the office of Dr. Samuel Hall the previous day to be treated for a heart problem.He had left the doctor's office and returned that evening only to find his wife dead. Her body was promptly removed to a funeral establishment.

A night watchman at a nearby bank had found the timing of the departure from the funeral establishment fishy and had contacted the police, hence the interruption of the funeral. Ida's body was taken for an autopsy, and a coroner's jury convened. They concluded "That Mrs. Ida Coakley, aged 24 years, nativity California, occupation housewife, residence Irvington, Alameda county, came to her death November 22, 1897, at 14 McAllister street, from septicaemia, following an attempt at abortion; and we further find that deceased came to her death from the effects of a criminal operation performed by Dr. Samuel H. Hall, and we further find that John Coakley was an accessory to the same crime."

Hall was arrested when he arrived in San Jose to visit his wife and daughter. He said that he'd not known that Ida had been pregnant when she and her husband had come to his office on Saturday. He'd treated her with morphine and nitroglycerin. On Monday see seemed okay, he said, but he left her for a while only to return to his office and find her dead. He said that he assumed that she must have died from an aneurysm.

John Coakley admitted that he had taken Ida to hall and asked if an abortion would be safe for her. When Hall had assured him that it would be safe, John paid $50 and Hall promptly took Ida into a procedure room. A few minutes later, Hall returned, told John that Ida had been fine, and sent her home.

Dr. Hall's daughter, Josephine Wells, testified that Ida had come to the McAllister Street house at about noon on the Saturday before her death. Hall had asked to use Josephine's room for a couple of days to care for Ida, who Hall told Josephine suffered heart disease. Ida was sitting in a chair by the fire the following Monday, where she died at about 6 o'clock in the evening.

The charges against John Coakley were dropped during the first trial in order to loosen his tongue against Hall. John Coakley proved useless during the trial, however. He broke down on the stand but the prosecution was unable to get him to say anything significant. The trial resulted in a hung jury, voting seven to five for acquittal. A second trial against Hall ended in acquittal after Coakley fled the state, leaving the prosecution minus the prime witness.

Hall had been twice tried for the 1891 abortion death of Ida Shaddock. The first trial ended in a hung jury and the second, three years later and after several key witnesses had moved away or died, resulted in acquittal.