A Mystery Abortion in 1873
Sarah N. Hall, a widow about 31 years of age, died under suspicious circumstances on Sunday, April 6, 1873 at the Grand Central Hotel in Chicago. During her final illness, she was attended by Dr. R. P. Reynolds. Eventually a coroner's jury concluded that Sarah had bled to death from an abortion, but since they were unable to determine how it had happened, they couldn't place blame on Reynolds, who "went on his way rejoicing."
A Doctor Dumps a Body in 1880
On April 7, 1880, a woman's bloody cloak, with clumps of hair clinging to it, was found hanging from a spike protruding from a bridge over the River Rough, just south of the Village of Delray, Michigan, near Detroit. She was eventually identified as 26-year-old Annie Clemens of Bay City, Michigan. Anna, a housekeeper, who had last been seen alive in Detroit on April 2. A coroner's jury investigated and concluded that she had died on April 6 from a botched abortion. An investigation revealed the abortionist to be Dr. William G. Cox, who had a drug store at the corner of Cass and Grand River in Detroit. Henry w. Weaver, "an aged furniture repairer," was also arrested, charged with disposing of Anna's body.
A Typical Chicago Abortion in 1906
Were there really wards full of moribund septic abortion patients in the days before legalization? One physician reported on the septic abortions seen at Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital from 1900 to 1914. This charity hospital, with a policy of never turning away patients, saw 500 septic abortion patients (both induced abortions and miscarriages) during that fifteen-year period. Four of those patients died. I have verified that two of the dead were indeed criminal abortion patients: Lizzie Orenstein and Bessie Braun.
Bessie, a 22-year-old homemaker and mother of two, died April 6, 1906. Before her death, Both verbally and in a signed statement, Bessie named midwife Julia Gibson as the person who had perpetrated the abortion, for a $5 fee, on March 20. Gibson, who had been at Bessie's bedside during the declaration, shot herself in a suicide attempt. While believing herself to be dying, she confessed to having perpetrated Bessie's abortion. Gibson had previously been indicted for the November 16, 1905 abortion death of 18-year-old Dorothy Spuhr, who died at County Hospital.
A Flight to a Deadly Doctor in 1969
On April 6, 1969, 35-year-old Mrs. Catherine Barnard of Arvada, Colorado, flew from her home to Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City, and evidently took a taxi to the office of 67-year-old Dr. Virgil Roy Jobe. A cab driver testified that he'd later picked Catherine up at Jobe's office and taken her to the airport. Instead she ended up at South Community Hospital. There, doctors found her gravely ill from a punctured uterus and small intestine. They told her prior to surgery that they needed to know what had happened to her, and she told them Jobe had perpetrated an abortion. Jobe, who was later also charged with performing an abortion on the 17-year-old Oklahoma girl, was convicted in Catherine's death. However, somehow after his conviction the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge and Jobe was freed after paying a $1,000 fine.