Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Two Different Doctors, Two Different Eras

A Deadly Doctor in Denver, 1913

On July 20, 1913, Mrs. Emma Chandler, age 20, died suddenly from complications of a criminal abortion perpetrated the previous day. In a deathbed statement, she named Dr. J.A. Richmond as her abortionist. Her husband, Ora, a Denver grocery clerk, notified the police immediately after Emma's death.

An investigation revealed that a friend had accompanied Emma to Richmond's practice after finishing work at the offices of a lumber company. After the abortion she was driven home. Her husband returned from work and found Emma very weak. Overnight she became more and more ill. Around noon she realized that she was dying and sent for a neighbor, who she begged to pray for her. The neighbor remained by Emma's bedside, knitting and praying.

Some time in the afternoon Emma confessed about the abortion to her husband, saying she'd arranged it because she didn't want another child, feeling that her 3-year-old son was enough. Mr. Chandler sent for a doctor who lived across the street, but there was nothing he could do for her.

Maternal Indications in New York, 1970

Barbara Riley was 23 years old when she chose abortion. She had a history of sickle cell anemia and three previous term pregnancies -- two live births and a stillborn child. She was in her first trimester of pregnancy when she underwent the abortion on July 11, 1970 at Harlem Hospital. The abortion had been recommended by hospital staff because Barbara had a history of sickle cell disease.

The abortion would probably have been recommended as beneficial to Barbara's health, under New York's old abortion law; the new law just meant that they didn't need to leally justify going ahead with it. But instead of improving, Barbara's health deteriorated. Her blood started to break down. Nine days after the abortion, July 20, Barbara died. She was the third abortion-related death reported in New York State in the 23 days that abortion had been legal in New York. The other women I've identified as dying from sickle cell crisis triggered by an abortion are Margaret Davis and Betty Hines.

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 Barbara, 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:

The deaths on this list are disproportionately in 1971 because most are taken from a report published by the New York health department covering the first 24 months of legalized abortion in New York, which included that latter half of 1970 and the beginning of 1972.

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