I went looking for additional information using Rena's name on a newspaper database and learned that she was far from the only abortion death attributed to Keester. The others were:
- Mrs. Virgil Rector, late November or early December, 1921
- Hattie Myers, age 19, March 7, 1922
- Hazel Hadicke, age 19, December 16, 1923
- Loren Franklin, age 19, August, 1924
- "Bonnie," age 18, August, 1924
Keester had managed to avoid prosecution for one of those deaths because the woman had named him as her abortionist upon admission to the hospital rather than when clearly on her deathbed. I don't have as much information about the other deaths.
I had wanted for so long to believe that quack abortionists had been easy to catch and imprison in the pre-legalization days. Clearly, when legal protection is again extended to the youngest among us we will need to have mechanisms for identifying and successfully prosecuting abortionists.