Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Gamut of Abortion Deaths in Chicago

At around 2 p.m. on November 30, 1874, Charles A. Dix went to the Madison Street police station in Chicago to report that his wife, 25-year-old Mary Dix, had died at around 12:30 that morning at their home on West Randolph Street. He told the police that Dr. W. T. Aiken had perpetrated an abortion on Mary. After an intensive investigation, however, a coroner's jury concluded that Mary had performed the abortion herself, and Aiken had only been treating her afterward.

On April 2, 1912, 25-year-old homemaker Elizabeth Jorgeson died from an abortion perpetrated that day by Katie Sauer, whose profession is not given. Sauer was held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted by a Grand Jury on November 30. The case never went to trial.

On October 27, 1926, 34-year-old Sophie Peterson underwent an illegal abortion in the Chicago office of Dr. Frederick Springe.  She was taken to Mercy Hospital, where she died on November 30.  Springe was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury on December 15.

On November 30, 1927, 22-year-old homemaker Lucille van Iderstine died in the Chicago office of Dr. Emil Gleitsman (pictured) from an abortion that had been performed on her that day. Gleitsman was indicted for felony murder in Lucille's death on January 15, 1928.  Lucille's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. Evidently Gleitsman beat the rap on Lucille's death because he was later implicated in the abortion deaths of Jeanette Reder in 1930, Mary Colbert in 1933, and Marie O'Malley and Maggie Doe in 1942.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

From Safe and Legal to the Last Known Hagenow Victim

Safe and Legal in 1971

"Monicawas a 31-year-old mother of five. She requested an abortion when she was 8 weeks pregnant, but the abortion was delayed about a month in order to address "some health, personal and administrative problems." The abortion was scheduled for November 20, 1971.

Her doctor decided that it was best to simply remove Monica's uterus with the fetus still in it. The hysterectomy was done under general anesthesia with no apparent complications.

On the second day after surgery, Monica developed fever and nausea, and had no bowel sounds. The next day she felt unwell and had a distended abdomen. The next day, she felt better and resumed eating, but still had not had a bowel movement.

Six days after the surgery, November 26, Monica began to scream and vomit. She reported severe abdominal pain and couldn't see. Within an hour of the onset of these symptoms, Monica died.

The autopsy revealed grim findings. Monica had a severe infection that had interfered with her bowel function. As she continued to eat but not to have bowel movements, her bowels backed up, allowing gastric juices to enter her lungs and begin to digest them. She also had bacteria in her brain, which may have caused her blindness in the final hour of her life.


Aspiring Star Dies from Abortion, 1954

Virginia Watson
Virginia Hopkins Watson, an Illinois native, had been on a record-setting relay swimming team with Esther Williams in 1939, and had herself set the world's fifty-meter record in 1938. Virginia was 32 years old and pursuing a Hollywood career when she became pregnant in 1954.Deciding that a baby would hurt her career, Virginia arranged to have an abortion on November 18. An investigation uncovered that she had arranged for a lay abortionist, Roger Fred Brenon, to come to her house and perform the abortion there, while Virginia's husband, Arthur, carefully avoided learning too much about what was going on even after obsrving Brenon in the kitchen evidently sterilizing some instruments  by boiling them on the stove. At Virginia's instruction, Arthur also wrote a check payable to cash for $150 and gave it to Brenon.

After the abortion, Virginia became sick with vomiting and bleeing before passing the dead fetus. By November 26, Virginia had difficulty in breathing and was taken to California Hospital. On November 29th she was transferred to the General Hospital. She died there of massive infection.

In telling the authorities about the events that led to his wife's death, he indicated that Brenon had visited Virginia two years earlier, spent time alone with her, and went off with a check Arthur had written. During  both visits, Arthur said, he'd been under the impression that Brenon was a physician named Rogers. Brenon was convicted of second-degree murder. in Virginia's death.


An Unknown Perp in Chicago, 1930

Seventeen-year-old Dorothy Jasinski was brought to St. Mary's Hospital in Chicago by two unidentified women on November 17, 1930. Dorothy was treated there until her death on November 29. The coroner determined that Dorothy had died from an abortion performed in Michigan City, Indiana, the day she'd been brought to the hospital. The coroner recommended identification of the person or persons responsible, and his or their arrest on charges of murder.

The Last Know Victim of Dr. Lucy Hagenow, 1926

On November 29, 1926, 25-year-old stenographer Mary Moorehead died from a criminal abortion in the Chicago office of Dr. Lucy Hagenow. Hagenow was arrested November 13. She was sentenced to 14 years at Joliet Penitentiary, but was able to get her conviction overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial in 1929.

The judge, noting that there was no new evidence, dismissed the case, telling Hagenow, "You had better make your peace with God, Lucy Hagenow. I do not think your months on earth are many."  


Lucy Hagenow
Hagenow, who also went by the name of Louise or Louisa Hagenow, had a long and unsavory history of being involved in women's abortion deaths. The first were in San Francisco before Hagenow relocated to Chicago around 1890. The abortion deaths Hagenow was linked to include:

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Death in the Dakota Territories, 1888

Mrs. George Libby, age 18, died November 28, 1888, in Wahpeton in the Dakota territories.
Before her death she admitted that she had bought abortifacient drugs from "a traveling doctor who made a specialty of selling such drugs."

I have been unable to determine Mrs. Libby's given name.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Fatality in an Abortion Ring, 1942

On November 18, 1942, 26-year-old Madlyon McGeehan, an OPA employee who had been living in Washington DC., died at Prospect Hospital in New York of peritonitis after an illegal abortion.

Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, age 58, was arrested for homicide and held on $150,000 bail. His nurse, Camille Ewald, was held on $150,000 bail. His receptionist, Pearl Tense, and Dr. Max J. Weinstein, who was thought to have referred Madeline to Nisonoff, were also arrested.

At the time of Madlyon's death, Nisonoff was out on bail after being charged with performing another abortion, which the woman survived. During six hours of questioning, he denied any knowledge of Madlyon's death.

A man identified as Madlyon's friend, Henry Elters, was held as a material witness on $15,000 bail.

Elters reportedly told Assistant District Attorney James Carney that he had known Madlyon for about seven years, and that they had gone to Nisonoff's office in Queens on November 13. They gave Ewald $600. She told Elters to "take a walk." He returned to find Madlyon resting on a couch.

On November 15, Elters was told that Madlyon needed a blood transfusion. She was admitted to Prospect Hospital as Betty McGee. After her death there, she was correctly identified by her sister, Mary, who had come came from the family home at Hazleton, PA, to claim Madlyon's body.

Nisonoff was sentenced to 5 years in state prison, and Weinstein was sentenced to the city penitentiary.

As a result of the McGeehan case, the New York District Attorney's office began investigating other possible abortion rings in the city.

Madlyon's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Terrible Surprise: Thanksgiving, 1986

The Dreadful Thanksgiving Surprise, 1986

Eighteen year old Michelle Madden, a freshman at Mobile College, sought a safe and legal abortion from O.B. Evans at Family Planning Medical Center of Mobile, Alabama. It was performed on November 18, 1986. According to the friend who had accompanied Michelle to the abortion facility, Michelle had chosen abortion because a doctor had told her that her baby would have birth defects due to Michelle's epilepsy medication.

That very day, Michelle's parents were preparing to go to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. Madden's brother. They got a call from Michelle's roommate telling them that their daughter was sick.

"We didn't think anything of it. We told her we were going to come the next day to pick her up," Michelle's mother told the Mobile Press Register. But before they could leave home the next day, the house mother at the dorm called, asking if Michelle had gynecological problems. Again, the parents weren't particularly concerned. At that point, they weren't even aware that their daughter had been pregnant.

When they arrived at the dorm, they were told that Michelle was in the hospital. "We called the hospital and they said she was in surgery." They were at the hospital for an hour until the doctor finally came to them and told them that Michelle had undergone an abortion. When they were operating on Michelle, doctors told her parents, they found a leg bone, two pieces of skull, and some placenta still in Michelle's uterus.

"From what he told me at that point," said Mrs. Madden, a nurse, "I knew that for her to live would be a miracle, on the order of the Lord raising Lazarus from the dead. She was in such bad shape I didn't see how she could make it."

Michelle's mother was sadly right. Sepsis had already set in, and Michelle remained on life support dying on November 24. Her parents sued Evans and the facility, and in 1991 a jury awarded them $10 million in damages. 


Two Early 20th Century Chicago Deaths

On November 24, 1916, 24-year-old Mrs. M. Marazak died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

On November 24, 1907, homemaker Lizzie Paulson, age 38, died at County Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed that day. John and Minnie Nelson were arrested and held without bail. John Nelson was sentenced to Joliet for his role in Lizzie's death. John Nelson's profession is given as "outside labor force" and "abortion provider", so likely he was a professional lay abortionist.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Self-Induced and Illegal Abortion Deaths Spanning a Century

Self-Induced in Colorado, 1978

On November 15, 1978, 18-year-old "Sharon" was admitted to the Denver General Hospital emergency room. She was suffering from nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Her mood was alternating between agitation and lethargy. She reported having believed that she was pregnant -- though she had menstruated only three weeks previously -- and drinking two half-ounce bottle of pennyroyal oil. Since she had also been seriously depressed, doctors were unsure whether to consider her ingestion of pennyroyal as an abortion attempt or as a suicide attempt.

Sherran had used pennyroyal tea in the past to start her periods when she'd thought that she was pregnant. She'd become ill within a few hours of drinking the oil.

A medical botanist, Dr. Walter Lewis, wrote about the case:

Within two hours she vomited blood and bled from the vagina and eyes. By the third day her liver was damaged. On the sixth day, she sank into a coma and died on the seventh day.
This would indicate that Sharon died on November 22.

Upon autopsy it became clear that Sharon had not even been pregnant. The pennyroyal oil had done such serious damage to her liver that portions of it had died. During her hospitalization she, like Kris Humphry, had developed disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC, a disorder in which the blood can no longer clot). It was eventually the hemorrhagic damage to her liver that caused her death.

The Centers for Disease Control investigated Sharon's death, along with other deaths from illegal abortion. They concluded that she, like the others whose deaths they studied, had sought an abortion outside the medical establishment for "idiosyncratic reasons." 


Two Chicago Deaths, 1917 and 1913

On November 22, 1917, 20-year-old Helen Devora died at Chicago's West End Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

Four years to the day earlier, 33-year-old Hulda Tubbin died in Chicago, at the scene of an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Olaf Olson. Though Olson was indicted for felony murder, the case never went to trial.

Fishy Goings-On in California, 1897


On November 23, 1897, a funeral procession in Irvington, California, was stopped just as about the body was being loaded onto a ferry. The deceased was 24-year-old Ida Coakley, a homemaker who had only been married to John Coakley, a farmer, for two months. John reported that he'd taken her to the office of Dr. Samuel Hall the previous day to be treated for a heart problem.He had left the doctor's office and returned that evening only to find his wife dead. Her body was promptly removed to a funeral establishment.

A night watchman at a nearby bank had found the timing of the departure from the funeral establishment fishy and had contacted the police, hence the interruption of the funeral. Ida's body was taken for an autopsy, and a coroner's jury convened. They concluded "That Mrs. Ida Coakley, aged 24 years, nativity California, occupation housewife, residence Irvington, Alameda county, came to her death November 22, 1897, at 14 McAllister street, from septicaemia, following an attempt at abortion; and we further find that deceased came to her death from the effects of a criminal operation performed by Dr. Samuel H. Hall, and we further find that John Coakley was an accessory to the same crime."

Hall was arrested when he arrived in San Jose to visit his wife and daughter. He said that he'd not known that Ida had been pregnant when she and her husband had come to his office on Saturday. He'd treated her with morphine and nitroglycerin. On Monday see seemed okay, he said, but he left her for a while only to return to his office and find her dead. He said that he assumed that she must have died from an aneurysm.

John Coakley admitted that he had taken Ida to hall and asked if an abortion would be safe for her. When Hall had assured him that it would be safe, John paid $50 and Hall promptly took Ida into a procedure room. A few minutes later, Hall returned, told John that Ida had been fine, and sent her home.

Dr. Hall's daughter, Josephine Wells, testified that Ida had come to the McAllister Street house at about noon on the Saturday before her death. Hall had asked to use Josephine's room for a couple of days to care for Ida, who Hall told Josephine suffered heart disease. Ida was sitting in a chair by the fire the following Monday, where she died at about 6 o'clock in the evening.

The charges against John Coakley were dropped during the first trial in order to loosen his tongue against Hall. John Coakley proved useless during the trial, however. He broke down on the stand but the prosecution was unable to get him to say anything significant. The trial resulted in a hung jury, voting seven to five for acquittal. A second trial against Hall ended in acquittal after Coakley fled the state, leaving the prosecution minus the prime witness.

Hall had been twice tried for the 1891 abortion death of Ida Shaddock. The first trial ended in a hung jury and the second, three years later and after several key witnesses had moved away or died, resulted in acquittal.

Monday, November 21, 2016

An Unidentified Perpetrator's Fatal Work, 1924

On November 21, 1924, 24-year-old homemaker Mildred Bleschke died at Chicago's Grant Hospital from complications of an abortion performed earlier that day. The perpetrator was never identified.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.


A graph showing maternal mortality starting at roughly 8,500 per 100,000 live births, preciptously falling to roughly 50 in the early 1960s, and trickling off tto nearly zero to the end of the graph.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Death Came Just When Life Seemed Safe

 Just When Life Seemed Safe 

Headshot of a middle-aged Bhutanese woman with her hair pulled back and a faint smile on her face
Karnamaya Mongar
At the age of 41, Karnamaya Mongar had survived nearly 20 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. What she was unable to survive was a visit to an American abortion clinic.

Karnamaya, her husband, Ash, their three children and one grandchild arrived in the United States on July 19, 2009 as part of a resettlement program. 
Karnamaya was more than 18 weeks pregnant when went to a clinic in Virginia for an abortion. But the Virginia clinic, and another in Washington, D.C., did not do abortions that late in the pregnancy. One of the clinics referred Karnamaya to Kermit Gosnell's Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia because Gosnell had a reputation for performing abortions regardless of gestational age.

Karnamaya went with her daughter to the Gosnell's clinic on November 18, 2009. That afternoon,
Latosha Lewis, who had completed a medical assistant course but had never been certified, conducted the clinic’s version of a “pre-examination,” which was so scanty it didn't even involve weighing the patient. Falsified informed consent forms were added to Karnamaya's file.  

After the "pre-examination" was done and the paperwork was completed, Randy Hutchins, a part-time physician’s assistant who worked without State Board of Medicine approval, inserted laminaria to dilate Karnamaya’s cervix and administered Cytotec to soften it. Hen then told Karnamaya to return the next day to complete the abortion.

Drugged Up

Kermit Gosnell's Philadelphia
"house of horrors" where
Karnamaya Mongar was drugged to
death by unqualified staff.
Karnamaya arrived at the clinic on November 19 around 2:30 p.m., accompanied by her daughter and her daughter's mother-in-law. At the front desk, Tina Baldwin gave Karnamaya her initial medication – Cytotec to soften the cervix and to cause contractions; and Restoril, a drug that causes drowsiness.  After giving Karnamaya the medicine, Baldwin told her to wait in the recovery area until the doctor arrived to perform the abortion.

Lynda Williams and Sherry West, who were without any medical-related qualifications medicated Karnamaya in the “recovery room” while she waited for Gosnell.

Karnamaya's daughter, Yashoda Gurung, told the Grand Jury that she waited with her mother in the recovery room for several hours. During that time, between 3:30 and 8:00 p.m., her mother was given five or six doses of oral medicine and repeated injections into an IV line in her hand.  As usual at Gosnell's clinic, no equipment was available to ensure proper monitoring of vital signs.



A handwritten, hand-colored chart of names for anesthesia concoctions and the amount of each drug to go in each
Anesthesia chart drawn up by 15-year-old
Gosnell employee Ashley Baldwin
Yashoda did not know what drugs her mother was given, but typically employees gave repeated injections of the concoction of sedative drugs that Gosnell referred to as a “twilight” dose. Each of these “twilight” doses, repeated a number of times at the discretion of the unlicensed workers, consisted of 75 milligrams of Demerol, 12.5 milligrams of promethazine, and 7.5 milligrams of diazepam.

The standard practice was for Gosnell's untrained staff to give repeated doses of sedative and pain-killing drugs to the patients, without regard to a woman's size or weight, whenever it was deemed necessary by the untrained staff. For example, if the woman started moaning, she was presumed to be in pain, and would be given another dose of drugs. Karnamaya, at only 4'11" in height and 110 lb. in weight, would have been endangered by a dose appropriate for an average-sized women, much less by the massive doses administered at Women's Medical Society.

A little before 8:00 p.m., West and Williams sent Karnamaya's daughter to another waiting area. She was left there, with no idea what was happening to her mother until the ambulance arrived after 11 p.m.


Williams helped Karnamaye into the procedure room, put her on the table, and drugged her again, this time with the clinic's "custom" dose of 75 mg. of Demerol, 12.5 mg. of promethazine, and 10 mg. of diazepam. The heavily drugged patient was then left, unattended and with no monitoring equipment, alone in the procedure room.

Cardiac Arrest

Kermit Gosnell mugshot
Kermit Gosnell mugshot
Sherry West told detectives that, some time after sedating Karnamaya, Williams came out of the procedure room, yelling for help. West said that when she later entered the procedure room, Gosnell was there trying to perform CPR on Karnamaya. Lynda Williams summoned Eileen O’Neill , an unlicensed medical school graduate who worked at the clinic, from her second-floor office.

O'Neill told the Grand Jury that she thought Karnamaya was already dead by the time she got to the procedure room, but she took over administering CPR because Gosnell wasn't doing it correctly. Gosnell, meanwhile, left to retrieve the clinic’s only “crash cart” (the emergency kit to treat a cardiac arrest) from the third floor. After returning with the kit, however, Gosnell did not use any of the drugs in it to try to save Karnamaya's life. Instead he just looked through them and seemed pleased that they were up to date. He seemed purely interested in keeping outsiders from finding out that the crash cart had been nowhere near the procedure room while patients were being sedated.

O’Neill testified that Gosnell told her not to administer Narcan, a drug that could have reversed the effects of the Demerol. She said that Gosnell told her it would not work on Demerol. O’Neill also said that she tried to use the defibrillator to revive Karnamaya, but that the paddles did not work.

Emergency Services

One of Gosnell's filthy
procedure rooms
It was after 11 p.m. – long after O’Neill had decided that Karnamaya was dead and returned to her office – that Lynda Williams finally asked Ashley Baldwin to call 911. Ashley then went into the procedure room and found Gosnell alone with his dead patient. He told Ashley to turn in the pulse oximeter, which they should have been using all along to monitor Karnamaya's pulse and blood oxygen. This surprised Ashley, since Gosnell knew that the pulse oximeter had been broken for months.

Emergency personnel arrived at 11:13. They found Karnamaya lifeless in the procedure room and Gosnell just standing there, not doing anything. The paramedics immediately intubated Karnamaya to give her oxygen, and started an intravenous line to administer emergency medications, since for some reason clinic staff had removed the IV line they'd been using all day to drug their patient. They also failed to tell the paramedics about the drugs they had administered.

The medics were able to restore weak heart activity. But getting Karnamaya to the ambulance was
 needlessly and dangerously time-consuming because the emergency exit was locked. Gosnell sent Ashley to the front desk to look for the key, but she could not find it. Ashley told the grand jury that a firefighter needed to cut the lock, but “It took him [20 minutes]… because the locks is old.” Karnamaya's daughter and friend ran outside, crying, and witnessed this. After cutting the locks, responders had to waste even more time struggling to maneuver through the cramped hallways that could not accommodate a stretcher.

When the ambulance arrived at the hospital shortly after midnight, Karnamaya had no heartbeat, no blood pressure, and was not breathing. After  aggressive resuscitation efforts, doctors were able to restore a weak heartbeat. Karnamaya was then sent to the Intensive Care Unit, where she remained on life support until family members could make the trip from Virginia to say good-bye. She was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m. on November 20. She had died of a massive overdose of Demerol.

Two Chicago Deaths from 1925

On November 20, 1925, 29-year-old Anna Kick died in Chicago's Washington Park Hospital from an abortion performed that day at an undisclosed location. The coroner determined that a midwife was responsible for Anna's death, but did not determine the midwife's name.

On November 20, 1925, 23-year-old Helen Bain, a homemaker, died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion performed that day. Dr. George Slater was arrested on November 21 for Helen's death. Slater was indicted by a grand jury for homicide on May 1, 1926. Slater was also implicated in the 1922 abortion death of Delia Campbell and the 1927 abortion death of Anna Mae Smith.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Nearly One and a Quarter Centuries of Needless Tragedy

Suicide in Missouri, 1984

Sandra Kaiser, who had turned 15 two days earlier, committed suicide on November 19, 1984, after an abortion at Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis, MO. In October, Sandra had gone to a Planned Parenthood with her 21-year-old half-sister, Karen Flynn. The pregnancy test was positive, and Sandra told Karen she wanted an abortion. Karen made an appointment and took Sandra to Reproductive Health Services (RHS) for a safe and legal abortion.

Karen later said that during the counseling session, Sandra did not seem ambivalent, and said that she thought she was too young to have a child. Sandra also lied, saying that her mother knew of the abortion plan, approved of it, and had provided the money to pay for it. Three days later, Karen brought Sandra back to RHS for the abortion.

It is important to note that Sandra had already led a very troubled life. At age 7 she witnessed the stabbing death of one of her half-brothers. At age 11 she was diagnosed with a conduct disorder. By age 12 her problems included drinking alcohol, running away from home, temper outbursts, skipping school, crying, and nightmares about her brother's death. She was hospitalized at least twice and had received outpatient therapy and medication. She was, in short, a high-risk abortion patient, likely to suffer severe psychological after-effects.

Sandra signed the consent form, and Karen signed in the space for parent/guardian. The two sisters also filled out the other paperwork for the abortion. They checked "No" in answer to the question, "Have you ever been hospitalized other than for childbirth." Karen later said that they checked "No" despite Sandra's psychiatric hospitalization because she believed the question only pertained to hospitalization for physical ailments.

After the abortion, Sandra holed up in her room a lot, crying. On November 19, Sandra's mother overheard her talking to her boyfriend on the phone. The boyfriend had supposedly gotten another girl pregnant. Sandra said that she was going to go jump off a bridge. Half an hour later, Sandra went to a bridge over Aresnal Street. There, a bystander saw her holding on to the fence, finally letting go and leaping off into the path of a car on the street below.

The driver of the car that hit her stopped and stood by Sandra, waving his arms to alert oncoming traffic to her presence in the road. The driver behind him stopped his car as well, and began flashing his headlights and sounding his horn to alert traffic. A woman driving an oncoming car saw the man waving his arms, and the car with lights flashing, and became confused and alarmed. She drove past them, running over Sandra.

Upon arriving at her destination, this driver told a friend of the strange event. The friend suggested that they return to the scene to find out what had happened. By the time they arrived, the police had arrived, Sandra was being loaded into an ambulance, and somebody had found Sandra's mother and brought her to the scene. The woman driver told the police what had happened, and no charges were brought against her.

Sandra died four hours later of multiple internal injuries.

Sandra's mother sued RHS for her daughter's death, charging that they had failed to contact the girl's mother in compliance with the law. An expert noted that at the time of Sandra's death, she had been depressed for several weeks, that the suicide was a direct consequence of this depression, and that the abortion was the "straw that broke the camel's back." The judge ruled that Sandra's mother and her witnesses failed to prove that the clinic had been negligent in exploring Sandra's history, and that Sandra had not been proved to have killed herself due to an uncontrollable impulse. To add insult to injury, the suicide had occurred during the time that the Missouri law governing consent of minors to abortion was enjoined by the Federal courts, so the law to protect Sandra and girls like her did not apply.

Two young women, Diane Boyd and Nichole Williams, died of complications of abortions performed on them by Robert Crist at RHS.


1935: If Not Ginsberg, then Who? 

On December 31, 1935, criminal abortion charges were dropped against Dr. Tobias Ginsberg, and his nurse, because of insufficient evidence. The two were suspects in the November 19, 1935 abortion death of 24-year-old Mrs. Edith Eschrich.

Chicago Deaths: 1924 and 1913

On November 19, 1924, 38-year-old homemaker Elizabeth Strazdas, a Lithuanian immigrant, died at Chicago's Mother Cabrini Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed that day. The person responsible for Elizabeth's death was never identified.

On November 19, 1913, 27-year-old homemaker Catherine Seabrooke died at St. Anthony's Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed that day by an unknown perpetrator.

1862: One Family, One Season, Unrelenting Tragedy

James Anderson, an elderly New York sexton and undertaker, had already suffered much as autumn of 1862 passed. His eldest son, a soldier, had been killed in the line of duty in September. His wife had been so stricken with shock and grief at the loss of their son that she herself had died shortly thereafter. Then in October, his 20-year-old daughter, Clementina, disappeared.

She had left the house on Saturday, October 25, ostensibly to visit relatives in Newburgh. Her father had wanted her to stay close to home, and offered to let her have somebody come stay with her if she was lonely. But Clementina was adamant. She took her black valise and headed off to Newburgh.

But word came on Wednesday, October 29, that the expected visitor had never arrived. What had become of Clementina? James Anderson and his brother asked the young woman's suitor, 26-year-old Augustus L. "A.L." Simms, if he knew anything of Clemetina's whereabouts. All Simms would say was that perhaps she had gone to the country to visit friends.

This didn't set the frantic father's mind at ease. For three weeks, he unflaggingly searched for his missing daughter, asking Simms again and again for any clue as to where she might have gone. Simms insisted that he had no idea where Clementina was, but reassured James that she'd probably be home soon.

The evening of November 19, the doorbell rang at James Anderson's home. He answered to find Edward Donohue, a hackman, on the doorstep, accompanied by an unfamiliar woman. The hackman held what at first appeared to be a bundle of quilts in his arms. The strange visitors came into the house. But when Donohue lay the bundle down on the sofa, Anderson saw that it was actually Clementina.

Taken completely by surprise at the sight of his long-missing daughter, he cried out joyfully to his brother and the hired man that Clementina had come home.

Agnes Mann, who boarded with the Andersons, heard the commotion from the basement and came up to see what was going on. She found people gathered around Clementina, who lay apparently lifeless on the sofa. James Anderson left the room briefly, overcome with emotion. Agnes drew nearer and saw that Clementina was still breathing, but very slowly. In the moment her father was gone to compose himself, she breathed her last.

Fate had dealt James Anderson a third tragic blow.


An investigation found that Simms had gotten Clementina pregnant, given her abortifacient pills, and finally, after the family disruption caused by the deaths of Clemintina's brother and mother had passed, ensconced her at the home of Dr. Edward Browne, he performed an abortion. Simms insisted that all of this had been at Clementina's instigation, but statements by her friends indicate that Clementinia seemed to think that Simms was whisking her away to marry her. 

Clementina became dreadfully ill after the abortion. Her condition continued to deteriorate over the course of the weeks she was gone from home. Finally, on November 19, Browne told Simms to take Clementina away. Simms hired the hackman who delivered the dying Clementina to her father's door.

Browne was eventually convicted of third-degree manslaughter in Clementina's death.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mostly the Work of Doctors

A New York Doctor, 1953

Joyce Chorney, age 25, died Wednesday, November 18, 1953. An autopsy was performed at Bellevue Hospital. It showed that she had died of an induced abortion. Fifty-four-year-old Dr. Alfred Joseph was charged with criminal abortion in her death.

A New York Doctor, 1942

On November 18, 1942, 26-year-old Madlyon McGeehan died at Prospect Hospital in New York of peritonitis after an illegal abortion. Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, age 58, was arrested for homicide and held on $150,000 bail. His nurse, Camille Ewald, was held on $150,000 bail. His receptionist, Pearl Tense, and Dr. Max J. Weinstein, who was thought to have referred Madeline to Nisonoff, were also arrested.

At the time of Madlyon's death, Nisonoff was out on bail after being charged with performing another abortion, which the woman survived. During six hours of questioning, he denied any knowledge of Madlyon's death. A man identified as Madlyon's friend, Henry Elters, was held as a material witness on $15,000 bail.

Elters reportedly told Assistant District Attorney James Carney that he had known Madlyon for about seven years, and that they had gone to Nisonoff's office in Queens on November 13. They gave Ewald $600. She told Elters to "take a walk." He returned to find Madlyon resting on a couch.

On November 15, Elters was told that Madlyon needed a blood transfusion. She was admitted to Prospect Hospital as Betty McGee. After her death there, she was correctly identified by her sister, Mary, who had come came from the family home at Hazleton, PA, to claim Madlyon's body.

Nisonoff was sentenced to 5 years in state prison, and Weinstein was sentenced to the city penitentiary. As a result of the McGeehan case, the New York District Attorney's office began investigating other possible abortion rings in the city.

A Chicago Doctor, 1917

I came to know about the death of 29-year-old Ellen Matson in a roundabout way, in studying the case in which Lillian Hobbs was convicted of murder in the 1916 abortion death of 21-year-old Alda Christopherson. During the trial, the prosecution brought up, as evidence of guilty intent, the fact that Hobbs had been indicted already for the abortion death of Ellen. Ellen was 29 years old, daughter of Swedish immigrants. In October of 1917, she told her boyfriend, Charles Morehouse, that she was pregnant, and had been taking quinine unsuccessfully to try to abort. Morehouse accompanied Ellen to a doctor, from whom he bought a box of “brown pills.” Ellen took these every hour for over two weeks, but like the quinine, they failed to cause an abortion.

Morehouse found another doctor and started borrowing money from relatives to pay for an abortion. Ellen confided in her mother, her sister, and her aunt. Though the two older women thought the abortion was a bad idea and tried to dissuade her, Ellen's aunt lent her $5.

Morehouse took Ellen to Dr. Lillian Hobbs' office on November 1, and evidently stayed with her throughout the actual procedure, since he later testified that the doctor had used “a spray” on Ellen's “privated [sic] parts.” He left her with the doctor for aftercare, returning later to take Ellen home. She took ill and was taken to Hobbs' home, where her mother and sister visited her. Ellen was taken to West End Hospital in Chicago, where she died on November 18.

Dr. Jacob Meyer, part owner of West End Hospital, and Dr. D. E. Boissonneault, the head intern, also testified at the inquest, along with several nurses from the hospital. The inquest began the next day, and Lillian Hobbs was identified as the guilty abortionist. Hobbs was convicted and sentenced to 14 years at Joliet. Hobbs was also implicated, but never tried, for the 1917 abortion death of Ruth Lemaire.

An Unspecified Professio in Chicago, 1909

On November 18, 1909, Anna Pozajevich, age 24, died in Chicago home from an abortion performed on November 7. Julia Adamovitch was indicted by a grand jury. Her profession is given only as "abortion provider". She was tried and acquitted for reasons not given in the source document.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Known Abortionist and a Suspected Abortionist

One of Many at California Clinic

Michelle Thames
Eighteen-year-old Michelle Thames suffered a seizure during her abortion at Her Medical Clinic on November 17, 1987. She died later that day. Her family filed suit, claiming that Her Medical Clinic staff had made inadequate attempts to resuscitate Michelle.

Michelle wasn't the only young woman to die at the notorious Her Medical Clinic, run by abortionist Leo Kenneally. Liliana Cortez died there September 20, 1986. Donna Heim died there August 12, 1986. And Maria Soto died there after being injected with drugs and left unattended on September 9, 1985.

The battle over Kenneally's medical license turned political after it was suspended by the medical board over the appalling conditions at Her Medical Clinic. Former state medical board executive director Dixon Arnett's said that Leo F. Kenneally's case was "the most egregious I have seen, bar none." But a judge restored Kenneally's license on the grounds that he was doing a public service "providing abortions" in an "underserved area."

The investigation of patient deaths wasn't the first time Kenneally got in trouble. His license had been suspended in 1979 for Medi-Cal theft, and previously in 1975 for records-keeping violations.

Reputed Abortionist Freed After Death

On November 17, 1935, Georgia Marie McGill, 21-year-old daughter of oil company superintendent George McGill, died from an apparent criminal abortion in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Marie's father identified Dr. W. R. Mitchell as the perpetrator. Mitchell was already a reputed abortionist, and police had already gotten many complaints about him prior to Marie's death. He was implicated in about half a dozen other abortion deaths, but I have been unable to get more details about those cases.

Mitchell was arrested and tried but the case ended with a hung jury. After the trial, Mitchell resumed his abortion business and was arrested again for his practice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Fake Clinic, a Midwife, and a Dentist

2002: Death at a Fake Clinic

A woman identified as "Patient A" (I'll call her "Adelle"), was 26 years old and had a history of anemia and sickle cell disease. Dr. Mi Yong Kim did not order proper lab studies, document an appropriate history, or perform a proper exam on Adelle before performing a safe and legal abortion on her on November 16, 2002. Kim administered 25 mg of Versed to Adelle, in response to her reports of pain, over a 10-minute period, without giving the medicine time to take effect.

At the end of the abortion, Kim noted that Adelle's pulse oximeter reading was only 70%, an alarming finding. Kim thought she found a pulse, did not assess whether or not Adelle was breathing, and simply ordered her staff to give Adelle oxygen by mask and call 911 but nobody made any actual attempt to resuscitate her. The ambulance crew arrived and transported Adelle to the hospital, where she was declared dead from possible air embolism.

The board did not suspend or yank Kim's license, instead noting that she was making improvements in her quality of care. She was instead placed under stipulations regarding her use of anesthesia in her office and her record-keeping. Kim called her office "Landmark Women's Center", giving the impression that it was a clinic.




1905: A Chicago Midwife

On November 16, 1905, 18-year-old Dorothy Spuhr died in County Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed on November 13.  Midwife Julia Gibson, aka Timmons, was arrested and held by the coroner's jury. Gibson went on to perpetrate a fatal abortion on Bessie Braun the following year.

1882: A Philadelphia Dentist

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Holstein, age 23, originally worked as a house servant in Wilmington, Delaware before moving to Philadelphia. In June of 1882, she and her beau, Willard Kauffman, traveled to her family's home in Milton, Delaware, to ask for her parents' permission to marry. She returned to Philadelphia, where she continued a job as a family servant until October 30, when she moved in with her aunt, Mrs. Maggie Rust, on Moyamensing Avenue.

Lizzie returned briefly to her employer's home on November 7 to retrieve some of her clothing. At the time she was suffering with a fever and chills. She corresponded with her parents about her illness, and they traveled to Philadelphia to be with her. Lizzie's condition seemed to be improving over Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday, but Lizzie relapsed. Her condition steadily deteriorated over Monday. On Tuesday evening she spoke to her aunt and confessed that she was ailing from the effects of an abortion Kaufman had paid for. It had been perpetrated on October 7 by the dentist who had made her false teeth. Mrs. Rusk asked Elizabeth to be more specific, and she replied, "George Buchanan, at Fifth and Pine Streets." Lizzie also made a deathbed statement to Dr. Samuel D. Marshall, who attended to her in her final sickness, identifying "Dr. Buchanon" as her abortionist Dr. Marshall thought that Lizzie was referring to John Buchanan, an evidently well-known local criminal who had been convicted of some crime having to do with issuing bogus diplomas. John Buchanon was George Buchanan's father.

In spite of all that Dr. Marshall could do, Lizzie died on November 16 from cumulative blood loss. Lizzie's parents knew nothing about the pregnancy or the abortion until after her death. Dr. Marshall notified the coroner's office. An investigation eventually led to the arrest and conviction of George Buchanan, who was quickly granted a new trial. I have been unable to determine if the trial actually took place and, if so, what the outcome was.