Saturday, October 01, 2016

Medical Complications and a Suicide After Abortions

Three Early 20th Century Chicago Abortion Deaths

On October 1, 1908, 21-year-old Mary Rahn died in a Chicago hospital from complications of an abortion performed that day. Mary was a Chicago native, a single woman who did housework for a living. She was the daughter of German immigrants. her father was a glassmaker, her mother a homemaker. She had three older brothers. Midwife Frida Trappe was arrested and held by the coroner's jury on October 14. The case went to trial, but Trappe was acquitted on July 12 0f 1909. Trappe's employment status is recorded as "Outside labor force (incl. criminals)", which may be an indication that she was a professional lay abortionist.

On October 1, 1914, eighteen-year-old Lillian Giovenco died at Wesley Hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Eva Shaver, Dr. Leopold Pijan, and Dr. John Fernow were held by the coroner in Lillie's death. Shaver had been identified as the abortionist by Lillie's husband, Frank. The coroner concluded that the fatal abortion had been preformed on September 5 in a medical facility that my source describes as "Abortion place". It was most likely Shaver's practice in her Chicago home. Eva Shaver convicted in Lillie's death, appealed, and was granted a new trial while under indictment for the 1915 abortion death of Anna Johnson, which Shaver had tried to disguise as a suicide by shooting the dead woman in the head as she lay on the floor of Shaver's home.

On October 1, 1922, 21-year-old bookkeeper Margaret Sullivan died in her Chicago home on Peck Street from hemorrhage and infection caused by an abortion performed at an undetermined time and place. The person or persons responsible were never caught and it is thus impossible to learn if Margaret went to one of the many physician-abortionists or midwife-abortionists practicing in Chicago at the time.

Safe and Legal in Washington, DC, 1989

Brenda Banks was 35 years old and 13 weeks pregnant when she went to Hillcrest Women's Surgi-Center in Washington, DC, for a safe, legal abortion. The abortion was performed by Llewelyn Crooks on September 30, 1989.

Brenda went into shock, and was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy and transfused Brenda with 20 units of red blood cells, to no avail. She died the following day, October 1, 1989. Brenda's uterus had been perforated and several major blood vessels had been cut or severed entirely.

Her survivors were unable to collect damages from Crooks and Hillcrest because Crooks' insurance company was insolvent, and Hillcrest carried no insurance. I have been unable to determine if the Hillcrest where Brenda had her abortion is affiliated with the Hillcrest in Pennsylvania where Kelly Morse had her fatal abortion.

Suicide in New Jersey, 2001

A smiling young white woman with long, straight blond hair, dressed in white graducation cap and gown
Stacy Zallie
Stacy Zallie, then a 19-year-old college student, wanted to become an elementary school teacher. Though she loved children and wanted to become a mother, she went to  Steven Chase Brigham's "American Medical Services" in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on July 6, 2001 for an abortion. There, Stacy was provided with a "Fact Sheet on Surgical Abortion" which did not address the risks of major depression or suicide but merely recommended that a patient should talk to a counselor or psychiatrist if she thought she needed help.

She kept the abortion a secret from her family, but they noticed behavior changes. Her parents arranged psychiatric care after Stacy took an overdose of pills. Four months later, without saying why, Stacy quit going to therapy and resumed her drinking binges. On October 1, 2002, mere days before she was to serve as a bridesmaid in her brother's wedding, Stacy took her own life after at least three failed prior attempts at suicide.

After learning of the abortion and Stacy's unbearable anguish afterward, her parents started the **Stacy Zallie Foundation** to provide post-abortion care so that nobody else's daughter suffers the fate their daughter did. The Zallie family takes no stand on abortion, seeking to keep their focus on providing desperately-needed aftercare to suffering women, regardless of politics, creed, or religion.

Abortion is associated with an increase in all forms of violent death: accident, homicide, and suicide. Other post-abortion suicides include:

  • "Sandra Roe," age 18, who killed herself using an unidentified means in April of 1971
  • Sandra Kaiser, age 15, who threw herself off an overpass into traffic in November of 1984
  • Carol Cunningham, age 21, who shut herself in her garage, ran her car, and died from the exhaust fumes in August of 1986
  • Arlin della Cruz, age 19, who hanged herself in the woods near her house in October of 1992
  • Haley Mason, age 22, who overdosed on pills and alcohol in April of 2001
  • Laura Grunas, age 30, who fatally shot her baby's father and then herself in August of 2006

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