Sunday, July 03, 2016

A Nurse and Three Doctors: Deadly Abortions in Chicago, Kansas, and Wisconsin

A Nurse's Fatal Handiwork, Chicago, 1917

On July 3, 1917, 31-year-old homemaker Helen Skoza died at Chicago's Henroten Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by nurse Elizabeth Schade. Schade never went to trial for Helen's death, and went on to kill Fern Strecker in 1926.

A Deadly Doctor in Kansas, 1918

Agnes Dohrer, age 17, lived on a farm in rural Sumner County, Kansas, with her parents. They hadn't even known that she was pregnant until she took sick after an abortion. They had her admitted to St. Francis Hospital in nearby Wellington, where she died on July 3, 1918. Her parents reported this to the police, who arrested Dr. A. W. Dortch of Arkansas City, Kansas as the abortionist and Ray Quinn, a soldier at Camp Funston, as an accessory in her death.

Parents' Fatal Plans in Wisconsin, 1929

Dorothy Schultz, 19 years of age, lived with her parents in Tomah, Wisconsin. She had just graduated from high school in June of 1929 and was planning to take a job with the government in Washington. In early June, Dorothy had gone to her mother with the news that she was pregnant. On June 15 or 16, Dorothy's mother brought her to Dr. W. B. Parke in Camp Douglas to arrange an abortion. He examined her and agreed to do an abortion for $150. The trip was delayed until June 19 due to inclement weather. Dorothy's parents wanted to remain at Parke's home while he did the abortion, but he requested that they leave. He assured them that all would go well, that he'd do the abortion in the morning. He took their $150 in cash and sent them on their way.

The next day, Dorothy's mother fetched her daughter home. That evening, Dorothy suffered chills. She continued to be ill, so a few days later her parents called Parke and told him of Dorothy's condition. He came to the Schultz home, bringing instruments with him, which he sterilized by boiling. He then performed a procedure to clean out Dorothy's uterus.

Parke came to Dorothy's home on at least two other occasions. On June 25, he found her condition to be so serious that he wanted to return to Camp Douglas to get medicine for her. After he left, Dorothy's parents called Dr. Winter. Dr. Winter found Dorothy delirious, with a 105 degree fever, and he suspected an abortion. At first, Dorothy seemed to improve under Dr. Winter's care, but she then developed pneumonia. She died on July 3. 

An autopsy found an enlarged uterus and dilated cervix, in keeping with a recent pregnancy. Dorothy's reproductive organs were sent to a pathologist who found necrotic tissue. He concluded that the sepsis that started in Dorothy's uterus brought on the fatal pneumonia.

Parke went to Dorothy's house after her death to express his sympathy and to refund the $150 abortion fee. He also paid them an additional $850.

Parke testified in his own behalf, saying that the money paid by Dorothy's parents had been a sort of retainer for obstetric care. He also said that when Dorothy's parents brought her to his home on the 19th, she'd already attempted to perform an abortion on herself. He said that he'd only been providing her aftercare. Parke was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in Dorothy's death.

Safe and Legal in Chicago, 1975

"Susanna Chisolm" (name changed at the request of the family) was a pretty young mother of four when she went to Biogenetics Ltd. in Chicago for a safe and legal abortion on June 3, 1975. (NOTE: The current Biogenetics company in Chicago is not affiliated with any abortion facility and was in no way associated with Susanna's death.) Even though 35-year-old Susanna was more than 12 weeks pregnant, the Biogenetics doctor chose to ignore the Illinois law that required abortions after 12 weeks to be performed in hospitals.

Within hours of her abortion, Susanna had bled to death from a punctured uterus. Biogenetics (which had been the target of at least 30 malpractice suits) claimed that their doctor was only repairing damage Susanna had done to herself in an attempted self-induced abortion. However, Biogenetics settled the case with Susanna's survivors for $75,000.

Brenda Benton and Synthia Dennard also died after abortions at Biogenetics.

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