Sunday, July 31, 2016

An Unlicensed Doctor in Pennsylvania, 1918

Dr. Herman Spangler of Easton, Pennsylvania was arrested in the summer of 1918 on two charges of abortion. One woman survived her ordeal, though her husband reported Spangler to the police. The other woman, 20-year-old silk worker Cecelia Dieber, was not so fortunate. She died on July 31 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown 48 hours after being admitted. Fetal tissue had been left in her uterus and she had contracted tetanus from her injuries.

Spangler, who had just been drafted and was about to be shipped out for induction, was arrested and brought to the hospital shortly before Cecelia's death. There, both she and her mother identified him as the man who had perpetrated Cecelia's abortion on July 20. Cecelia's lover had been drafted and sent to France in the Army, which might have contributed to her decision to abort the pregnancy.

Spangler was also charged with practicing medicine without a license, though he claimed to be a graduate of the Metropolitan College of Chicago.

Spangler pleaded guilty on all charges and was sentenced to serve ten years and six months in prison and faced a fine of $1,500.

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