Monday, August 29, 2016

From Self-Induced to Safe and Legal

Chicago, 1918 and 1927

On August 29, 1918, 23-year-old homemaker Mabel Johnston died at Chicago's Cook County Hospital of blood poisoning caused by an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Nathan Smedley and Dr. Emma Warren. Both were arrested and arraigned but the case never went to trial.

On August 29, 1925, Katarzyna Tobiasz, age 31 or 32, died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from an abortion performed on her that day. A woman whose name is spelled once as Barbara Kolur and elsewhere as Barbara Kar was held by the coroner on August 31 for Katarzyna's death. Kolur/Kar's profession is given as nurse or midwife.  On July 5, 1927, she was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Katarzyna's death.

Pittsburgh, 1926

On Wednesday, August 18, 1926, 22-year-old Myrtle Shall's friends and her fiance, Bruce Armstrong, brought her to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. She had been feverish and in pain for the past three weeks, and now she was in shock.

Bruce, who said he'd known Myrtle for six or seven years, knew only that his fiancee was terribly ill but didn't know why. Her mother, Alice Phillips, on the other hand, was able to tell the doctor more. Myrtle, she said, had attempted a self-induced abortion when her period had been two weeks later. At first her vaginal bleeding was a welcomes sign that the abortion had worked, but when it continued for three weeks, accompanied by fever and pain, her family and friends had become concerned.

Myrtle had been perfectly well prior to inducing the abortion. Now she was vomiting and the doctors found her to be weak and anemic, with a rapid pulse and respiration and an alarming blood pressure of 136/100. In spite of all of the doctors' best efforts, Myrtle died at 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, August 29.


Chicago, 1927

In 1927, fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Florence Kruse became pregnant as a result of statutory rape by Corwyn Lynch. Somebody arranged for an abortion, which was performed on August 29. Florence died that day.

Dr. James Aldrich was arrested on murder by abortion charges that day for the girl's death. However, the coroner's jury was unable to confirm that Aldrich had performed the abortion, and he was released. Florence's father, Louis C. Kruse, was booked as an accessory. However, on September 17, both men were cleared by the coroner, and on September 19 they were released. The coroner did, however, recommend that Corwyn Lynch be charged with murder. There is no record that Lynch was charged. Florence's mother, Amanda Kirsch Kruse, was not implicated.


Chicago, 1987

Diane Watson was 27 years old when she went to Hedd Surgi-Center in Chicago for a safe and legal abortion on August 29, 1987. Although Diane was over 12 weeks pregnant, Rudolph Moragne proceeded with the abortion, in violation of state regulations prohibiting outpatient abortions after 12 weeks.

Diane had seizures and went into cardiac arrest at the clinic. Moragne and the other physicians present -- Henry Pimentel, Ester Pimentel, and Calvin Williams -- failed to perform CPR.

Diane's autopsy report attributed her death to "seizures due to anesthesia during an abortion," and made note of the recent pregnancy. Diane's death certificate, however, not only makes no mention of the abortion, but has the "no" box checked for whether or not the decedent had been pregnant during the previous three months.

Diane's family filed suit. A doctor reviewing the case said that Moragne and Hedd staff "deviated from the accepted standards of care [and] failed to appropriately and timely diagnose and treat intraoperative complications which resulted in her death."

Another abortion patient, Magnolia Reed Thomas, bled to death when Moragne failed to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy when she came to him at Hedd for a safe, legal abortion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fatal Abortions, Mostly in Chicago

A Doctor in Chicago, 1906

Mrs. Anna May Klanenberg, age 24, died at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago from complications of an illegal abortion on August 23, 1906. Physician J. W. Mitchell was held by the coroner's jury, and indicted, but the source document doesn't indicate that there was ever a trial.

A Lay Abortionist in Queens, 1916

Lydia Hoff of Jamaica, Queens, was charged with perpetrating a fatal abortion on 26-year-old Mrs. Violet King on August 11, 1916. Violet, who died on August 23, left behind three children.

Another Doctor in Chicago, 1927

On August 23, 1927, 27-year-old Shellane Franklin, a Black woman, died at the scene of the crime from an abortion performed on her that day. Dr. Gordon Jackson, a white man, was held by the coroner on October 28. On December 15, he was indicted for felony murder. Shellane's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

A Doctor in Chicago, 1974

Twenty-five-year-old Dorothy Muzorewa, a nurse, had recently immigrated to the Chicago area from Zimbabwe. A jouralist's notes after her death tell the following story:

Dorothy went to Women's Aid Clinic for a safe and legal abortion on June 15, 1974. The fetus didn't die, however, and Dorothy returned to the clinic on August 21 to report her symptoms. Staff told her to return the following day. Dorothy returned to Women's Aid, bleeding and in pain. David Turow examined Dorothy, diagnosed an infection, and sent her home with prescriptions for tetracycline to control the infection and ergonovine to control the bleeding.

Dorothy's husband said that he awoke at around 6:00 on the morning of August 23 to find his wife bleeding profusely. Dorothy assured him that she was just menstruating, so he left for school. When he returned home, he was alarmed by Dorothy's bleeding and called an ambulance. Dorothy was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival shortly after noon. Only after her death did her husband, a theology student, learn of the pregnancy and abortion. 


A witness in Dorothy's apartment described the bedroom as "wall to wall blood." He found the fetus in a waste basket.

The coroner ruled Dorothy's death from hemorrhage accidental.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Gamut of Abortion Deaths, 1908 - 1988

Two Typical Chicago Abortions

On August 14, 1908, 23-year-old homemaker Bertha Isserstadt died at Chicago's Evangelical Deconesses' Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated on August 5. A woman named Margaret Wiedman, age 39, was held by the coroner, but eventually acquitted for reasons not given in the source document. Wiedman's profession was given as "abortion provider". Given the plethra of abortionist-midwives in Chicago at the time, it's likely that Wiedman was one. Weidman insisted that she had been summoned to Bertha's home on June 13 and asked to perform an abortion but she had refused. Bertha's death, she said, was caused by eating green apples.

On August 19, 1917, 31-year-old seamstress Anna Lindquist died at Chicago's County Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated that day, reportedly by nurse/midwife Katherine Schmidt. Schmidt was tried in Anna's death but acquitted on February 28, 1918 for reasons not indicated on the source document.

Self-Induced in Oklahoma, 1937

Ruth Haught, a 30-year-old widow, died at University Hospital in Hobart, Oklahoma, on August 19, 1937, of blood poisoning from an apparent self-induced abortion.

One of At Least 16, California, 1988

National Abortion Federation logo, sky blue and white with text only
Documents regarding Tami Suematsu, age 19, alleged that she underwent a safe and legal abortion by Vern Wagner at Riverside Family Planning Center in Los Angeles on August 19, 1988. Tami went into bronchial spasm and asthma-related respiratory failure then cardiac arrest. She was transported to a hospital, but died shortly after arrival.

Riverside Family Planning was a Family Practice Associates Medical Group facility and thus a member of the prestigious National Abortion Federation. Other patients known to have died after abortion at FPA facilities include Denise HolmesPatricia ChaconMary PenaJosefina GarciaLanice DorseyJoyce OrtenzioDeanna BellSusan LevyChristina MoraTa Tanisha WessonNakia JordenMaria LehoKimberly NeilMaria Rodriguez, and Chanelle Bryant.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Midwife in Chicago, "Human Wolves" in Oklahoma

A Chicago Midwife, 1901

Annie Robinson, a 28-year-old homemaker, died in her Chicago home at around 4:00 a.m. on August 18, 1901. About ten days earlier she confessed to her husband, George, and her mother, Mary Schroeder, that she was suffering from the effects of a criminal abortion and named midwife Teresa Muenster as the perpetrator. George told the family doctor, H. I. Hook, and Hook recommended that George notify the police. It ultimately had been Hook who notified authorities about Annie's death.

After his wife died, George went to the police. "I had no idea that my wife had visited Mrs. Muenster," he said, "and until she knew that she was dying she kept the matter a secret from me. When she learned that she was about to die she called to her bedside her mother and myself. She declared that she had visited the Muenster woman three times, and that the midwife was responsible for her condition. She told us, moreover, that her brother's wife, Caroline Schroeder, who died two years ago, had been a patient of the Muenster woman, and that the second treatment by the midwife proved fatal to her. I am determined to see that justice is done and that somebody shall pay for the death of my wife."

Muenster, about 60 years old, had been a practicing Chicago midwife for 30 years. George, a cashier at a streetcar company, was left to care for their two small children. Dr. Muenster was arrested that day, and she was held by the Coroner's Jury. Mrs. Robinson's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.


The First Victim of "Human Wolves," Oklahoma, 1917

I learned about 18-year-old Elsie Stone‘s sad end while looking for memorials for the unborn at Find-a-Grave. Evidently Colby Weaver, who is interested in old graves, was intrigued by the inscription on another woman‘s headstone. Underneath the dates on the marker of Katherine Cross are the words: "Murdered by Human Wolves." Weaver tracked down a newspaper article on Katherine‘s death by criminal abortion, and there learned of this earlier victim.

The Seminole County News in Oklahoma reported that 18-year-old school teacher Elsie Stone went to the practice of Dr. A. H. Yates on August 15, 1917, for a "criminal operation." Elise remained there for three or four days before being sent home, where she died.

On her death certificate, her death was attributed to "congestive chill." But concerned citizens complained to the County Attorney, A.G. Nichols. Nichols ordered Elsie's body exhumed and an autopsy performed at the cemetery; thus the real cause of her death was discovered.

Yates was arrested, along with Fred O'Neil, the principal of the school where Elise worked. The men waived arraignment. O'Neil, a married man, was accused of arranging the abortion. Elsie's friends said that O'Neil was the father of her baby.

Yates and O'Neil were originally charged with murder, but because of legal technicalities the charges were reduced to manslaughter. Yates was arrested for Katherine Cross's abortion while awaiting trial. Yates was subsequently acquitted even though the initial ballot for the jury was 11 to 1 for conviction.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Safe and Legal in the 1970s

New York's Legal Abortion Free-For-All, 1971

"Vicki" was 23 years old when she underwent an abortion in New York state, taking advantage of the liberalized abortion law. She was 20 weeks pregnant. The doctor decided to use the saline abortion method, which involved injecting a strong salt solution into the amniotic fluid. The fetus would swallow and inhale the fluid, which caused massive internal bleeding. The fetus would die, triggering labor. Saline was injected into Vicki's uterus to begin the abortion. The next day, she began to show signs of infection. She expelled her dead fetus but her condition did not improve. On August 17, 1971, she died of sepsis.

Some of the other women who died because of New York abortionists' careless enthusiasm for abortions during the pre-Roe period include:

  • Pearl Schwier, July 12, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • Carmen Rodriguez, July 19, 1970, salt solution intended to kill the fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • Barbara Riley, July 20, 1970, sickle-cell crisis triggered by abortion recommended by doctor due to her sickle cell disease
  • "Amanda" Roe, September 22, 1970, sent back to her home in Indiana with an untreated hole poked in her uterus
  • Maria Ortega, October 10, 1970, fetus shoved through her uterus into her pelvic cavity then left there
  • "Kimberly" Roe, December 23, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Amy" Roe, January 2, 1971, massive pulmonary embolism
  • "Andrea" Roe, January 20, 1971, overwhelming infection
  • "Sandra" Roe, April 18, 1971, committed suicide due to post-abortion remorse
  • "Anita" Roe, May 11, 1971, bled to death in her home during process of outpatient saline abortion
  • Margaret Smith, June 16 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Annie" Roe, June 24, 1971, cardiac arrest during anesthesia
  • "Audrey" Roe, July 1, 1971, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "April" Roe, August 22, 1971, injected with saline for outpatient abortion, went into shock and died
  • "Barbara" Roe, September 23, 1971, cardiac arrest after saline injection for abortion
  • "Tammy" Roe, October 13, 1971, massive post-abortion infection
  • Carole Schaner, October 20, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Beth" Roe, December 29, 1971, saline injection meant to kill fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • "Roseann" Roe, February 27, 1971, vomiting with seizures causing pneumonia after saline abortion
  • "Connie" Roe, March 8, 1972, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Julie" Roe, April 16, 1972, holes torn in her uterus and bowel
  • "Robin" Roe, May 4, 1972, lingering abortion complications
  • "Roxanne" Roe, May 13, 1972, given overdose of abortion sedatives
  • "Danielle" Roe, May 17, 1972, air in her bloodstream

Clinic Run by Erstwhile "Back Alley Butcher" in Florida, 1978

Marina Deschapell, age 34, went to the Miami abortion facility at 620 SW 1st Street for a safe and legal six to eight week abortion on August 17, 1978. Eduardo F. Elias administered Valium and Xylocaine for the abortion. Immediately after the procedure, Elias noticed that Marina was not breathing. He initiated CPR and an emergency team was summoned. The ambulance crew found Marina with no signs of life. Although the medical examiner did not attribute Marina's death directly to the abortion, police noted that the clinic, owned by former criminal abortionist Dr. Luis Barquet, was not equipped with any emergency equipment other than an air bag.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

From Boston in 1858 to Pittsburgh in 1989

Ugly Rumors in Boston, 1858

On Monday, August 16, 1858, Dr. David R. Brown went to an undertaker asking for the removal from is home of a body he said was that of his 37-year-old servant, Emily A. Thompson. He said that she had died from cholera. Somebody found this fishy to the District Attorney. The body was exhumed and examined. The dead woman didn't look any older than age 20. An autopsy also showed that the death had not been due do cholera but rather due to abortion complications.

“She was of good form, tall and slim, and appeared to be unused to labor. When the body was disinterred a gold ring was found on one finger and an ear-ring in one ear. She has light-brown hair and blue or hazel eyes, and is said to have been a very beautiful and intelligent girl.”

Her name was Susan Webster.

Rumors also swarmed that she had been sent to Boston the abortion by a "near relative" who had gotten her pregnant. The "near relative" turned out to be her uncle, Philip Ulmer.

Brown was arrested and charged with manslaughter on August 24, 1858, and Ulmer was charged as an accessory. A trial in March resulted in a hung jury, with 11 voting for conviction and one for acquittal after 44 hours of deliberation. In a subsequent trial in April, 1859, Brown was convicted and faced a sentence of seven to 21 years.


Chicago, 1899

On August 16, 1899, 35-year-old Antonie Vacicek, a married woman, died in her Chicago home from complications of an illegal abortion performed there that day. Mary Koupal was arrested and held by Coroner's Jury in the death, but was discharged in the September term. Koupal's profession is not listed.

Safe and Legal in California, 1969

Cheryl Vosseler was 17 years old when she was admitted to Fresno General Hospital on July 31, 1969, to undergo a legal abortion. California allowed abortions to be performed in hospitals at that time. After she was discharged, Cheryl suffered from complications, and was readmitted two weeks later. Surgery was performed August 14, 1969, to try to save her life. Cheryl's condition continued to deteriorate. She finally died August 16, 1969.

One of Three Deaths at a Chicago Clinic, 1974

Dorothy Brown, age 37, underwent a safe and legal abortion at Friendship Medical Clinic in Chicago on August 16, 1974. Within hours, she was dead at a nearby hospital. Her death was attributed to "shock related to hemorrhagic necrosis of uterus." That means that blood from her uterus was unable to get back into her circulatory system, overwhelming the tissues and causing them to die. Julia Rogers and Evelyn Dudley also died after abortions at Friendship Medical Center.

An Unwanted, Contraindicated, Obsolete Abortion, Pittsburgh, 1989

A snapshot of a middle-aged woman and teenage girl of Italian descent, smiling and embracing
Deborah and Marla, shortly before the abortion
Deborah Cardamone has raised her grandson since he was one year old. She had to. The child's mother, Deborah's daughter Marla Anne, died at the age of 18. Pregnant after a date rape, Marla had planned to put her baby up for adoption, since she already had a toddler to take care of, but a medical-social worker at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh strongly urged Marla to have an abortion.

The social worker insisted that Marla had harmed her unborn baby because of Tegretal and Elavil she'd been taking for depression. No family would adopt a disabled baby, Marla was told. The social worker pointed out to Marla how difficult it would be to continue to assist in caring for her quadriplegic father if she also had to care for a disabled child that nobody would adopt. Statistics gave a 92% chance that the baby was fine, but Marla had a sonogram to be sure. After the sonogram, the social worker kept pressuring Marla. Finally, she gave in. She was admitted to the hospital for the abortion August 15, 1989.

Although the urea induction technique -- which involved injecting a chemical into the uterus -- was contraindicated due to Marla's medical history, Michael W. Weinberger injected urea into his patient's uterus anyway. Either an error during this injection or some other mishap caused the tissue of Marla's uterus to start dying. The laminaria used to dilate Marla's cervix had also been inserted by Weinberger in a manner resulting in massive infection. Her kidneys shut down.

Marla became obviously ill during the night, with nausea, vomiting, urinary incontinence, and dried blood on her teeth. Her pulse and temperature were severely elevated. At 6:30 AM the charge nurse contacted a the first of several doctors to treat Marla, but no were cultures taken.

By 7 AM Marla was "increasingly disoriented and speaking inappropriately." By 7:15, her blood pressure had fallen to 80/40, her pulse had shot up to 144, and she was "unresponsive, grunting loudly, and having seizures." At 10 AM, intravenous antibiotics were administered, but of course they would do nothing to address the kidney failure or rotting tissue. Marla was dead from septicemia at 12:15 PM.

The suit filed by Marla's family noted failure to notify them of her deteriorating condition. They never got to come and see her one last time before she died. Marla's parents adopted her orphaned son. To add further insult to injury, the coroner's office lost the body of Marla's baby, Christopher Michael. (To see the coroner's photos of Marla and her baby, click here.)

Marla's family faulted the doctor and hospital with performance of an abortion that they should have known would only make Marla's existing depression worse, failure to remove the dead fetus, administering an overdose of Pitocin, and failure to consult qualified doctors.

Marla's mother adds bitterly:


I had to file a lawsuit to get any answers. Marla had died of septicemia--a massive infection from the abortion. I also learned that the social worker had never seen Marla's sonogram or discussed the results with her. Marla never saw the words on the sonogram report that would have changed everything: No abnormalities detected. My daughter was pressured to have an abortion, and there had been no reason for it, no reason at all.

I've often wondered why pro-choice women's groups have never expressed any sympathy or concern over Marla's death. Why aren't they demanding justice? Why aren't they concerned that Marla was lied to about the condition of her baby and wasn't shown the sonogram results? Why aren't they concerned that proper treatment was delayed because Marla was misdiagnosed by a resident who was only two months out of medical school? Why are they so quiet?


I believe it's because pro-choice groups don't want women to read or hear about abortion injuries and deaths. Bad publicity hurts their cause. That's why they prefer that Marla and her baby remain hidden statistics.

"The last two weeks of her life, all she did was cry," Deborah Cardamone told me.


Deborah still cries.

Monday, August 15, 2016

1909: A Teen Dead, a Doctor Implicated

On August 15, 1909, Lillian Swing, age 15, died in Chicago from an abortion performed on August 9.

Dr. Hamilton Shaver and his wife were held by the coroner's jury. The source document doesn't indicate that the case went to trial.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Insanity, "Natural" Abortion, and Other Deaths

Blamed on Green Apples, Chicago, 1908

On August 14, 1908, 23-year-old homemaker Bertha Isserstadt, a Jewish immigrant from Austria, died at Chicago's Evangelical Deconesses' Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated on August 5. A woman named Margaret Wiedman, age 39, was held by the coroner. Weidman insisted that she had been summoned to Bertha's home on June 13 and asked to perform an abortion but she had refused. Bertha's death, she said, was caused by eating green apples.

Doctor Committed for Insanity, Denver, 1917

Mary Park
Mary Park, a 24-year-old schoolteacher of Greeley, Colorado, died August 14, 1917. Four years later, Dr. Nicholas J. Phelan was tried of murder in her death from illegal abortion, but he was acquitted by reason of insanity and sent to a mental hospital. The next year, Mary's body was exhumed, and Dr. E.L. Willis of Denver was subsequently tried and convicted in her death. He had been party to the abortion, performed at the Colonia Hotel in Denver. Willis was sentenced to 10 - 15 years in prison for Mary's death.

Safe and Legal in Los Angeles, 1984

Yvonne Tanner, a 22-year-old  mother of a young daughter, had a safe and legal abortion performed by Stephen Pine and/or Morton Barke July 10, 1984 at Inglewood Women's Hospital. Yvonne went into a coma immediately after the abortion, and died August 14, 1984. Her death certificate indicates coma, hypertension, and urinary tract infection. The suit by her survivors alleged that Yvonne was not adequately advised of the risks prior to undergoing the fatal abortion. The other women who met their deaths at Inglewood include: Kathy MurphyLynette WallaceElizabeth TsujiCora Lewis, and Belinda Byrd.

"Natural" Abortion, California, 1994

Kris Humphrey
Kris Humphrey placed a high value on "self-determination" and doing things "naturally." These values led her to choose the herbal abortion that ended her life on August 14, 1994.

Kris had undergone a clinic abortion previously, at a Planned Parenthood, but hadn't liked the experience. According to a friend, she found the procedure painful and the staff indifferent. Kris, said the friend, thought the staff at Planned Parenthood "treated her like she was doing something wrong, something she should be ashamed of." for choosing abortion. Her stepbrother's death two years earlier due to an allergic reaction to a painkiller also led her to distrust modern medicine, said Kris's family.

Kris routinely used herbal remedies for minor ailments, so she already had ideas about where to go for information on an herbal abortion. She consulted friends. One of Kris's friends said she'd done more than one self-induced abortion and recommended an abortion technique from Wise Woman Herbal, by Susun Weed. The method relied on a tea of pennyroyal extract and black cohosh root, both readily available in health-food stores.  On August 5, Kris started the abortion regimen.

Over the approximately 10 days Kris was taking the tea, she went about her business, socializing with friends and family. Kris experienced abdominal pain and cramping, which she took as signs that the abortion was going as planned. Neither Kris nor her friend who recommended the tea thought anything was wrong at first.

The only person who was concerned was Kris's mother, Embee. The two attended a movie together on August 7, and Kris told her mother about the pregnancy and about her herbalist plans. Embee, who'd suffered through an ectopic pregnancy once, saw something familiar in the way Kris was holding her side from pain. She asked Kris if she was sure that the pregnancy was normal, not ectopic, but her daughter evaded the question. Instead, Kris told her mother that the abortion should be complete on the 9th, and that she'd call then. But Kris continued to experience problems and continued to take the abortion concoction.

By Friday, August 12, Kris had given up on her herbal abortion plan. Embee and a friend offered to pay for her to have the abortion done at Planned Parenthood the next day. But when one of Kris's many housemates came home at 7:30 that evening, she found Kris pale and feverish, and learned that she'd been vomiting. Kris continued to suffer chills, cramps, and vomiting for the next six hours.

Her condition continued to deteriorate. She passed out at around 11 p.m. Her friends continued to try to care for her, placing her in a cold bath at about 2 a.m on Saturday to try to address her feverish sweating. But Kris just went into a seizure, so her friends carried her to the kitchen. One of them noticed that she wasn't breathing and started screaming. One friend called 911 while another attempted to perform CPR on the kitchen floor.

The paramedics arrived at 2:27 a.m and found Kris pulseless. They managed to resuscitate her enroute to the hospital, where emergency room staff put her on a ventilator and tried to stabilize her. Her friends told staff about the abortion, and even brought the bottles of pennyroyal and black cohosh. The staff had no idea what effects the herbs might be having on Kris, and called poison control.

Kris was in shock and suffering from disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC), a catastrophic clotting disorder. "She was bleeding from everywhere," said a doctor who treated her. "She was even bleeding from all the places she was pierced--her nose, her mouth, her brow, her labia. Everywhere."

Doctors suspected an ectopic pregnancy, but feared doing exploratory surgery because Kris's condition was so fragile. While they were just done with a CAT scan at around 9:00 Saturday morning, Kris went into cardiac arrest. Staff used a defibrillator several times in addition to multiple IV lines to revive her. After half an hour, her heart finally started beating again. But despite all the IV fluids, she still had no blood pressure.

In desperation, the doctors proceeded with surgery, finding an right tubal pregnancy that was bleeding from the end of the fallopian tube. The tube itself had not ruptured. The doctors removed the pregnancy and "significant quantity of old blood which was malodorous." Even though the tube hadn't ruptured, it appeared that the effect of the pennyroyal on Kris's liver had caused the clotting problems that had led to her excessive internal bleeding.

After surgery, Kris showed no signs of responsiveness. She was declared brain dead on Sunday. Friends and family gathered at the hospital and life support was turned off. Half an hour later, at 4:51 p.m., Kris was declared dead.

Testing on samples of Kris' liver showed that her liver showed signs of damage associated with one of the substances, pulegone, contained in pennyroyal.  Kris's divorced parents are united after her death in a lawsuit filed against the pennyroyal manufacturer and the store where Kris likely bought the herbs. Kris's friends, on the other hand, blame the health clinic where Kris had her positive pregnancy test. They say that the clinic should have done an ultrasound to check the location of the embryo. But since Kris had no unusual symptoms at the time, and had been given a referral to Planned Parenthood, there really was no reason for the clinic to do such an examination. Nobody, it seems, is blaming the culture that makes abortion normative and assures young women that it's perfectly safe.


Another abortion death due to pennyroyal ingestion is Sharran Parks, who died on Colorado on November 22, 1978.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Pentacostal Preacher, Life of the Mother, and Other Abortion Deaths

Chicago Doctors, 1922

Beulah Pickerill, a Texas native, was 21 years old and living with her parents in the Louisville, Kentucky area. She worked there as a bookkeeper, but had other plans for her life. Beulah and her friend Floy L. Butler had ambitions for the stage, and on July 29, 1922 they left Louisville for Chicago. The presumption at home was that the two young women planned to develop careers as vaudeville performers, though the story Beulah had told her family was that she was going to visit friends.

An unidentified man, described as "wealthy and prominent," had arranged the journey. Whether he spirited the young woman to Chicago purely for the abortion or in order to support her dreams is unclear.

Those dreams died along with Beulah at Chicago's Mid West Hospital on August 13. After authorities determined that Beulah had died from complications of an abortion, two physicians, Vincent Filletti and Michael Galgano, were held by the coroner and indicted for felony murder. In her deathbed statement, Beulah had identified Filletti as the abortionist.

Upon arrival in Chicago, Beulah and Floy consulted with a physician on Chicago's Northside, but he refused to do the abortion himself, instead referring her to Filletti and Galgano. The friends went to Fillette's office on August 7 to make the arrangements and negotiate the price of $200. Beulah wired to Lousiville, presumably to the "wealthy and prominent" man, for the money. The abortion was perpetrated on August 9.

Floy, along with Patrick J. Owens, the manager of Chicago's Clarendon Hotel, were held as accessories. A physician identified only as Dr. Peterson was held as a witness.


A Pentacostal Preacher, Chicago, 1954

Nathelyn Collins, age 17, died at Cook County Hospital on August 13, 1954 from complications of an abortion perpetrated by Rev. Clarence Loveaux in a back room of his storefront church, Pentecostal Righteous Temple of God.

Loveaux, age 59, insisted that he had only been "giving treatment" to Nathelyn, not performing an abortion. However, he had two small rooms at the back of the church that were fully equipped with all the medical tools necessary for an abortion practice. He was arrested when another 17-year-old white girl identified him as the man who had perpetrated an abortion on her.

Police, who had staked out the church for two weeks prior to the raid, said that Loveaux charged between $5 and $100 for abortions.


Safe and Legal in Los Angeles, 1986

Donna Heim, a 20-year-old nursery school teacher, went to Her Medical Clinic on August 12, 1986, accompanied by her sister. Donna told staff that she had asthma, and she noted this on her forms when she filled them out. Despite this pre-existing condition, a nurse anesthetist administered general anesthesia for her safe and legal abortion. Donna started to have difficulty breathing, but Mahlon Cannon continued with the procedure for five more minutes before helping the nurse anesthetist to try to restore Donna's breathing.

Donna's sister, who was in the waiting room, became alarmed at the intense staff activity she noticed, and questioned a staffer about her sister. She was reassured that Donna was fine. The sister saw an ambulance pull up to the building and stepped outside, where she observed her sister being transferred into the emergency vehicle. Donna's sister followed the ambulance to a nearby hospital, which summoned the comatose young woman's parents.

Donna died the next day without regaining consciousness. An investigation was sparked, and an administrative law judge ruled that Cannon was negligent in continuing with the abortion despite the patient's respiratory distress. The judge also found that Cannon often failed to do medical exams, take medical histories, or administer standard tests prior to abortions.

Donna's father, Richard Heim, told the Sacramento Bee, "I honestly thought that within a month or two the man would be in prison for manslaugher. When you go to the cemetery to visit your daughter, there's no way you can explain that, and this guy's just kicking back and making more money."

Donna's mother, Barbara Heim, told the Daily News of Los Angeles County, "I thought they'd close the door so no one else would die." But a month after Donna's fatal abortion Liliana Cortez, another woman with asthma, also died after an abortion at Her Medical Clinic. Michelle Thames would die at Her Medical Clinic in 1987 after being improperly resuscitated. 

Maternal and Fetal Indications, Georgia, 1988


Allegra Ann Roseberry of Snellville, Georgia, age 41, had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. She was admitted to Emory Hospital for assessment and surgery in anticipation of admission to an experimental cancer treatment program. There, a sonogram during surgery revealed a 23-week pregnancy, much to everyone's surprise since Allegra had undergone fertility drug treatment in order to conceive her son Matthew 20 years earlier.

Her liver specialist, family doctor, and gynecologist all failed to detect her pregnancy despite amenorrhea, breast tenderness, distended abdomen, and nausea because these symptoms were attributed to the cancer and other ailments. Allegra's doctors offered abortion as her only alternative, saying that the fetus was "doomed" due to Allegra's ailments, that the pregnancy would render her ineligible for the experimental treatment, and that the pregnancy was damaging her fragile health and would greatly hasten her death. No one arranged for a consult with a perinatologist or obstetrician. The options of continuing the pregnancy and/or premature delivery of the infant were not offered or discussed.

Allegra was transferred to Emory's Crawford Long Hospital for the abortion. Young W. Ahn initiated the abortion by prostaglandin suppository on August 8, 1988. On August 9, Allegra expelled the dead baby, whom she and her husband, Gary, had named Amy Ann. Allegra developed sepsis from the abortion, and died on August 13. An autopsy revealed that Amy had been normal.

The liver specialist contended that Allegra would have aborted Amy even if she had known the child was healthy in order to be eligible for the experimental program.The experimental program, however, did not actually exclude pregnant women. Allegra's gynecologist claimed that the reason for the abortion was damage to the fetus due to radiation therapy and also mentioned chemotherapy, neither of which Allegra had undergone.

All defendants held that Allegra could not have survived long enough to deliver Amy alive anyway. However, her prognosis if untreated for the cancer was 3 to 6 months to live. That would have put Amy's gestational age at 35 weeks at the earliest her mother was expected to die -- far past the point of viability -- and at 47 weeks had her mother survived 6 months -- nearly two months past the end of a term pregnancy.

In addition, it seems bizarre to subject a woman, as one of the last acts of her life, to endure a grueling late-term abortion rather than delay merely a single week at most before inducing labor to deliver a live infant with a good chance of survival.

The jury rendered a verdict against the liver specialist for the wrongful death of baby Amy, but returned no verdict for the wrongful death of Allegra due to their assumption that the cancer would have killed her soon anyway. Evidently they did not consider the time she could have spent being a mother to her baby daughter to be of any value.

Allegra's was not the only tragic death caused by doctors who recommended (or excused) abortion as a life-saving or health-preserving option for the mother:

  • Anjelica Duarte sought an abortion on the advice of her physician, and ended up dying under the care of a quack.
  • Barbara Hoppert died after an abortion recommended due to a congenital heart problem.
  • Christin Gilbert died after an abortion George Tiller holds was justified on grounds of maternal health.
  • Erika Peterson died in 1961 when her doctors obtained her husband's permission to perform a "therapeutic" abortion.
  • "Molly" Roe died in 1975 when her doctors made the dubious decision to perform a saline abortion to improve her chances of surviving a lupus crisis.

Friday, August 12, 2016

1970: Edward Allred's Safe, Legal Clinics Claim First Women's Lives

Sara Franki Lint, a 22-year-old coed, submitted to a safe and legal abortion at San Vicente Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on August 11, 1970. Adolpho Zlotolow, who operated San Vicente (an abortion facility that was part of the Family Planning Associates Medical group chain) said that Sara went into ventricular fibrillation soon after the abortion was initiated by either Albert Kapstrom or Milton Gotlib.

The technique being used on Sara, hysterotomy, was one with a known high maternal mortality rate. It was, in fact, surgery similar to a c-section but with the intention of allowing the baby to die of prematurity.

San Vicente staff treated Sara for an hour before transferring her to Midway Hospital down the street, where she died at 4:57am on August 12. The autopsy found yellow fluid in Sara's heart, frothy tan fluid in her lungs, and a seven-inch male fetus in Sara's uterus.

San Vicente was where Oriane Shevin, Natalie Meyers, Joyce Ortenzio, Laniece Dorsey, and Mary Pena underwent their fatal abortions. It was bought out by Family Planning Associates Medical Group. Other women who lost their lives due to abortions at FPA include:


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Typical Criminal Abortions and a Murder-Suicide

A Chicago Nurse or Midwife, 1900

On August 4, 1900, 20-year-old newlywed Mary Borglum died in her home from complications of an abortion performed there that day. The abortion had been agreed upon by both Mary and her husband, James. Mrs. Mary Kempfer was arrested that same day and held without bail by a Coroner's Jury. Kempfer's employment status was listed as nurse or midwife.

A Chicago Physician, 1913

On August 4, 1913, 40-year-old seamstress Anna Turnovan, a Hungarian immigrant, died in Chicago at the scene of an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Frank L. Meuller. Mueller was arrested and held by the Coroner, as was Sima Mallasch. The case never went to trial.

A Habitual Offender in Wichita, 1824

Loren Franklin, age 19, of Buffalo, Missouri, died in August of 1924 in Wichita, Kansas. An inquest was held to verify if Dr. Charles C. Keester had perpetrated a fatal abortion on her. A tentative date of death is August 4. Keester had already been implicated in the abortion deaths of Hattie Myers, age 19, March 7, 1922; and Hazel Hadicke, age 19, December 16, 1923. The same month that Loren died, Keester was implicated in the abortion death of "Bonnie," age 18. He would go on to be convicted in the February 28, 1930 abortion death of Rena Armstrong, age 17.

A Chicago Midwife, 1942
On August 4, 1942, 18-year-old Eva Moyer died after an abortion perpetrated by Chicago midwife Katheryn Eickenberg. A taxi driver testified that he had taken Eva to Eickenberg's house three times in the week prior to her death. She was accompanied by James Tivey, a sailor, that the taxi driver said accompanied Eva on those trips to the midwife. Tivey testified that he had paid Eickenberg $50 for the abortion. Eickenberg was convicted or murder by abortion and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Murder-Suicide in Florida, 2006

A passport-photo style picture of a smiling young white woman with her light-brown hair pulled back from her face
Laura Grunas
On August 4, 2006, 30-year-old Laura Grunas, a police officer in Plantation, Florida, shot her boyfriend, 31-year-old Robert Peat, dead inside his home. Grunas then turned the gun on herself. The couple had been together for about a year. Neighbors reported that Laura was hysterical the last day of her life, standing outside Peat's garage yelling, "Why is everyone blaming this on me? He killed my baby." The argument became so loud that neighbors called the police.

In what those close to the pair believed to have been a mutual decision, Laura had aborted the couple's baby a few weeks earlier. Michael Roth, a friend of Peat, told police that Peat had been "enormously upset" about the abortion. "He was a lot more religious than me and didn't believe in that, but they had felt that that was the right thing to do for whatever reasons."

Peat had called Roth and asked him to come over shortly before the shooting. Roth said that when he arrived, Grunas became upset, saying, "If, when he felt the need to call, did he tell you about killing my baby?"


Peat also called the police, and when two officers arrived, Grunas, a colleague of theirs, became furious. They asked her to leave, and she complied. Peat asked Roth to remain with him, and Roth recommended that Peat get a restraining order. "Thirty seconds after I tried to make that suggestion, his phone started ringing. .... And then she started banging on the front door."

Laura then used a Smith & Wesson 9mm, her work-issued handgun, to shoot out the sliding glass door to the kitchen. Roth, who suffered minor injuries in the incident, fled the kitchen through the shot-out door and called 911.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Illegal in Chicago, Safe and Legal in Akron

Illegal in Chicago, 1915

Mrs. Stella Cams, age 30, died on August 2, 1915. at Chicago's Lake Shore Hospital. She had been admitted under the name "Mrs. Steele."  She had been sick in July. On the 17th, her husband, Harry Cams, called Dr. Thomas J. Balhatchett to attend to his wife. Balhatchett declared that she was suffering ill effects from an accident and called in Dr. Patrick Mills. Stella didn't speak English, so Mills could not get any information from her. He found Stella to be very ill, and, not liking the situation, left Balhatchett to deal with Stella's care alone.  It was then that Balhatchett called in Dr. G. A. Stetler, who evidently recognized that he was dealing with an abortion case, and that a second surgery was necessary. One of the doctors performed it.

The next day somebody asked a nurse, Jeannette Houston, to provide nursing care. She hadn't been told before arriving that this was an abortion case. She din't want to stay but did anyway, caring for Stella until her admission to the hospital on July 29. There, Dr. Maximillian Meinhard (hospital owner and/or head of surgery, specializing in ear, nose, and throat disorders), declared that Stella was suffering from pneumonia and handed her off to Dr. Charles W. Clark, who, not having been given a medical history also diagnosed Stella with pneumonia.

Stella was to be buried as a pneumonia victim, but Dr. Springer, coroner, had herd vague rumors and decided to perform an autopsy. Concluding that Stella had actually died from a septic abortion, he set an inquest date of August 27 in order to have time to gather evidence.

Meinhart had gotten in abortion-related trouble before. On September 23, 1912, the body of Anna Rice was taken from his home to an undertaking establishment. He told the undertaker, E. I. Harty, that Anna had died of pneumonia. Harty notified the coroner, An inquest was held and the coroner's jury concluded that Anna had died from a botched abortion.  Menhardt was implicated in 1917 in the abortion death of Emma Melvin.

Illegal in Chicago, 1937

Midwife Sophie Mann and her sister, Dr. Gertrude Plenz, were both indicted in the August 2, 1937 abortion death of 25-year-old Mary Kissell, the divorced mother of a little girl. I can only find snippets about Mary's death. Evidently she went to her family doctor after the abortion. He examined her and sent her to Cook County Hospital on July 17, 1937. She died on August 2.  Sophie, a midwife, preferred instructing her patients to take hot baths, use a hot water bottle on the abdomen, and use a concoction involving vinegar.

Safe and Legal in Akron, 1981

Twenty-seven-year-old Robin Wells, a divorced mother of three children ages 6, 4, and 2, went for a safe and legal abortion under general anesthesia by Max Pierre Gaujean at Akron Center for Reproductive Health on July 15, 1981. Robin went into cardiac arrest in the recovery room, and was transferred by ambulance to a hospital. She remained in a coma until her death on August 2, 1981.

Both Gaujean and the anesthesiologist were independent contractors and did not maintain private practices. The suit filed by Robin's survivors alleged that she was overdosed on anesthesia and not properly monitored. It also alleged that staff at Akron Center for Reproductive Health failed "to resuscitate her after her condition had been discovered." The case was settled out of court.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Abortions in 1922, 1929, and 1991

A Muddled Case in Colorado, 1922

On August 1, 1922, 27-year-old divorcee Carrie McDonald died at the county hospital in Denver, Colorado from the effects of an abortion. She had been taken there after her friends realized that the care they were providing to her would not be enough to help her.

When she was admitted, Carrie insisted that she'd been suffering from ptomaine poisoning, but an inquest was ordered over the protests of Carrie's parents, Mr & Mrs. F. J. Meehan, and her brother, Willie Meehan.

Carrie had been living in a rooming house as Carrie Healy with a chauffeur called Ed Healy, whose real name was Ed Hanley. He reportedly had been planning to marry Carrie as soon as his divorce was finalized. He left the boarding house several weeks before Carrie's death and hadn't been seen since.

Six women were held during the investigation because police believed that they might have information about the abortion. They insisted that Carrie had told them about the abortion, perpetrated on July 7, but had been sworn to secrecy as to the identity of the midwife who had perpetrated it.

Sadie Hines, a beautician who had known Carrie for about a year, said that Carrie had spoken for weeks about arranging an abortion and had asked Sadie to give her the money, but Sadie said she'd refused.

After the abortion, Sadie said, she'd gone for a car ride with Carrie, who then told her that the baby had been born alive and that she'd heard it crying. "They" had asked if she wanted to see it, and she'd said no. After that, Carrie said, she'd known nothing of the baby's whereabouts. Sadie, however, got the impression that the baby had been killed shortly after birth.

Fort Collins police helped Denver police in the search for Mrs. Alma Dittman, age 52, suspected to have something to do with Carrie's death, though Alma denied any knowledge of the fatal abortion. She had been implicated, along with Mrs. Ida Cathcart, by Carrie's friend Margaret Lynch, who later recanted her story and insisted she'd known nothing about an abortion.

Dittman was located at Fort Morgan and brought back for questioning. Dittman said that she'd been called in to care for Carrie after a self-induced abortion. She denied any knowledge of what had happened to Carrie's baby. A search of her home had revealed surgical instruments.

I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case.


A Notorious Abortionist in Montana, 1929

B&W portrait of a white woman in her 50s or 60s, with short curly black hair, round black eyeglasses.
Gertrude Pitkanen
On August 1, 1929, 22-year-old schoolteacher Violet Morse, of Anaconda, Montana, died at 638 Montana Avenue in Butte, Montana. She died in a room that she had been renting for several days from Mrs. Grace Ybarra, the owner of the house.

Her death certificate, attributing her death to myocarditis (a heart condition) was signed by Gertrude Pitkanen, who was listed as the attending doctor even though Pitkanen was actually a surgical nurse and a chiropractor.

Violet's father requested a coroner's inquest, which revealed that Violet had actually died of complications of an induced abortion. With abortion illegal, this meant that Violet's death was a homicide, and a new death certificate was issued.

Pitkanen insisted that she had only been called to Violet's bedside after her death. She said that she just forgot to notify the coroner. Interestingly, it had been Pitkanen -- who admitted to knowing that Violet was pregnant -- who sent Violet to the Ybarra house to rent a room. One of the Morse family friends said that Pitkanen had told him as well as Violet's family that she had given Violet "tablets."

Undertaker Sam White, who would have a responsibility to report a suspicious death, indicated that he didn't think there was anything suspicious about being asked to take Violet's body out the back door of the house, since this, he said, wasn't unusual.

With no way to verify that Pitkanen had performed the abortion, she was simple censured for failing to notify proper officials about the death, as well as for falsifying the death certificate.

Pitkanen had begun her career as an abortionist by serving as an assistant to her husband, Dr. Gustavus Pitkanen. When he  was jailed for sedition in 1917, his wife took up the curette.

Pitkanen was also charged with the abortion deaths of Margie Fraser and Hilja Johnson.  Violet's abortion was unusual in that it was likely performed by a nurse, rather than by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.


Safe and Legal in Michigan, 1991

Documents regarding the death of Ingrid Thomas, age 28, indicate that her uterus was perforated by Kanu Virani during a safe, legal abortion.

Ingrid developed acute peritonitis, and died at Botsford General Hospital August 1, 1991, several days after the abortion.

Other prolife activists in Michigan indicate that it was not Kanu Virani, but rather Roger Kusner, who perpetrated the fatal abortion.