Saturday, July 02, 2016

From Criminal in 1882 to Safe and Legal in 1981

A period of a century shows us 19th and 20th century criminal aboriton deaths, a pre-Roe but legal abortion death, and a post-Roe legal death.

1882: Gussie Ellergood Implicates Physician

On Saturday, July 1, 1882, Gussie Ellergood of Carlisle, Illinois, died in a St. Louis hospital. She had been admitted the previous Wednesday after having taken sick. Her death was due to a botched abortion. She made a deathbed statement to a nurse naming Dr. Robert McWilliams as her abortionist, though McWilliams denied any knowledge of her.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that Gussie "had been betrayed by a villain named Harry J. Pate, who, through the medium of slushy love letters, gained her affections and then deserted her." As McWilliams' trial date approached, Pate was in the workhouse due to vagrancy, so even if he had stayed with Gussie her prospects would have been poor. I have been unable so far to determine the outcome of McWilliams' trial.

1896: Hanna Carlson Implicates Two Female Physicians

A hawk-nosed middle-aged white woman wearing a dark sailor-style hat and sailor collar, peering intently at the camera through round wire-rimmed spectacles
Dr. Lucy Hagenow
On July 2, 1896, 20-year-old Hanna Carlson died at Chicago's Emergency Hospital at about 5 p.m. Her brother, A. O. Carlson, swore out a complaint against Dr. Lucy Hagenow and Dr. Ida Von Schultz. Both women, who said that they were originally licensed to practice medicine in Switzerland, were charged with murder. A man named Emil Olson, identified as "the man who secured their services," was also arrested.

Hagenow and Von Schultz asserted that Hannah had come to them after a self-induced abortion and that they were merely trying to save her life. The jury evidently found the evidence against the known abortionists to be insufficient, since they acquitted both defendants after deliberating for two hours.

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: Minnie DeeringSophia Kuhn, Emily Anderson, Marie Hecht,: May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich,: Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter, and: Mary Moorehead.

1936: Madell Williams and an Unidentified Abortionist

On July 1, 1936, 19-year-old Madell Williams died in a Rocky Mount, North Carolina hospital, from peritonitis caused by a perforation of her uterus during a criminal abortion.

Madell had left her mother's home in Nash County at about noon on Sunday. She went off in a car with Melton Baker, a man Madell had been associating with for about 18 months. Baker brought Madell back to her mother's home early Monday morning. Madell was very sick and immediately took to her bed, where she remained for about a week. A doctor examined her, and on his advice Madell was admitted to the hospital.

Baker denied that he had arranged or even recommended an abortion for Madell. He even went so far as to insist that he had neither picked her up at her mother's house nor had he brought her back; he had, he insisted, not seen her at all during the time in question. However, he admitted to Madell's uncle that he had gotten her pregnant.

Baker was found guilty of arranging the fatal abortion, and was sentenced to 3 - 5 years in prison. His conviction was upheld on appeal.

1971: Safe and Legal in New York

"Audrey" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortionAudrey was 44 years old when she underwent a first-trimester abortion in New York on July 1, 1971, now legal under New York's liberalized abortion law. During the abortion she went into cardiac arrest. Attempts to revive her failed; she died that day, leaving three children motherless.

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 "Audrey," 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 (Thrugh June of 1972):
1981: Safe and Legal in Iowa

Sheryl Cottone was 23 years old when she underwent a first trimester abortion in June of 1981. She was rushed to Veteran's Memorial Hospital in Waukon, Iowa, on July 1. She was pronounced dead on arrival. An autopsy found that she had died from an embolism that lodged in her heart.

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