Sunday, October 16, 2016

Doubly Deadly Docs and Other Abortion Tragedies

Safe and Legal in Los Angeles County, 1974

Maria Lira was a college student when she went to Riveria Hospital in Los Angeles on October 14, 1974, to undergo an abortion. After she'd been discharged, Maria had problems and returned. Staff performed a D&C, then discharged her again. That night, she went to the emergency room due to excessive bleeding.

She was sent to Torrance Memorial Hospital for treatment, where she died on October 16. The autopsy found a decomposing fetus in her uterus, which had caused infection and DIC (disseminated intravacsular coagulopathy), which prevented clotting, causing the hemorrhage that killed Maria.

A Twice-Deadly Doctor in Seattle, 1954

Martha Alit, age 40, died October 16, 1954 after an abortion perpetrated in Seattle by Dr. James Unosawa.  Born in Juneau, Alaska, Martha had lived in Seattle for twenty years with her Filipino husband and was already the mother of nine children. Her husband, Felicisimo, was away on Coast Guard duty when she sought the services of Unosawa, an osteopath known to perform abortions. She died in his office. Unosawa had served time in prison after an earlier fatal abortion in 1946. He was convicted again of manslaughter in the death of Martha Alit, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision two years later, holding that the prosecution had not disproved his claim that he was trying to save her life. He would be arrested for a third time in 1963, after another patient required emergency hospitalization. Convicted, he was granted probation after agreeing to stop practicing medicine. Unosawa's previous victim was identified as Beulah LeClair, who had died in 1946.

A Mystery Abortion in Chicago, 1923

On October 2, 1923, 16-year-old homemaker Loretta Schranz underwent a criminal abortion somewhere in Chicago. On October 16, she died at Chicago Hospital from complications of that abortion.

Ethel Davis and Lena Rumenstein were held by the coroner in Loretta's death. Their professions were not listed on my source document. Davis was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder on November 15.
 A Doubly Deadly Doctor in Chicago, 1923

On October 16, 1923, 19-year-old Lydia Nelson died at Chicago's Englewood Hospital from an abortion performed there that day, evidently by Dr. Charles Klinetop. On January 15, 1924, Klinetop was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Lydia's death. Back in 1912, he had been identified by a coroner's jury as the doctor responsible for the abortion death of Minnie Miller.

Self-Induced in Quincy, Illinois, 1922

On September 20, 1922, Dr. E. L. Caddick, a staff surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital in Quincy, Illinois, was called in to perform an emergency appendectomy on 18-year-old Corrine Comstock of Palmyra. During the surgery, he noticed "the condition of the patient" -- though whether this was alluding to her pregnancy or post-abortion complications is unclear.

After the surgery, Caddick spoke to Corrine, who admitted that she had attempted an abortion.

Her condition deteriorated for nearly a month until Corrine's death the night of Monday, October 16. An inquest was held the following night at White Funeral Home and found her cause of death to be blood poisoning brought on by the attempted abortion.

Investigators found that Corrine had been "keeping steady company" with a married man who lived near her in Palmyra. It had been common knowledge that he had been planning to divorce his wife.

Corrine's mother, Mrs. Mina Nixon, said that Corrine had first taken ill the Monday after a September 16 visit to the Palmyra Fair.

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