Wednesday, August 12, 2020

August 12: An Early Death at a Notorious California Abortion Hospital

Sara 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. She went into ventricular fibrillation soon after the abortion was initiated.

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 her uterus.

San Vicente was where five other women underwent their fatal abortions: Natalie Meyers (1972), Mary Pena (1984), Laniece Dorsey (1986), Joyce Ortenzio (1988), and Oriane Shevin (2005)

At some point I've been unable to precisely determine, San Vicente was bought out by Family Planning Associates Medical Group, the largest chain of for-profit abortion clinics in the world. Some of the San Vicente Deaths are thus also FPA deaths. 

Patients who died from abortions performed at FPA facilities other than San Vicente include these 13 women and girls:
  • Denise Holmes, age 24, 1970
  • Patricia Chacon, age 16, 1984
  • Josefina Garcia, age 37, 1985
  • Tami Suematsu, age 19, 1988
  • Deanna Bell, age 13, 1992
  • Susan Levy, age 30, 1992
  • Christina Mora, age 18, 1994
  • Ta Tanisha Wesson, age 24, 1995
  • Nakia Jorden, 1998
  • Maria Leho, age 26, 1999
  • Kimberly Neil, age 38, 2000
  • Maria Rodriguez, age 22, 2000
  • Chanelle Bryant, age 22, 2004

Monday, August 10, 2020

August 10: A Chicago Doctor and a "Responsive" and "Alert" Dead Woman

On August 10, 1917, 29-year-old Emelia Gorman died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Anna Sorenson. Although Sorenson was indicted by a Grand Jury on September 1, she remained free to perform fatal abortions on Mrs. M. Linstrom in November and Margaret Crowe in January of the following year. Sorenson was finally arrested on January 15, and her killing spree came to an end when she herself died in prison while awaiting trial.


Let's jump ahead to the safe-n-legal days.

Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health ("CRASH") was the model abortion clinic -- a published review of their earliest patient records, published by Bernard Nathanson, played a key role in "proving the safety of legal outpatient abortion."

On August 10, 1988, 19-year-old K.B. (due to confidentiality, the public record documents do not give the patient's name) was given anesthesia for a safe, legal 14-week abortion. Since Life Dynamics calls her "Kelly" on their "Blackmun Wall" of women killed by abortion, I will refer to her as Kelly as well.

Shortly after the procedure, she showed signs of distress: pale complexion, weak pulse, dilated pupils, and darkened blood. Though she started showing these signs by around 12:15 or 12:30, nobody summoned an ambulance until 1:05 pm. Kelly was transported to Cabrini Medical Center where she was pronounced dead from complications of anesthesia.

After Kelly's death, the health department investigated and found a mystery: Kelly's chart listed her post-operative condition as "pink, responsive, alert," even though she had gone into full cardio-respiratory arrest by the time indicated on the assessment. They learned that the note had been entered into the chart before the abortion was even performed.

The inspectors noted that CRASH "did not employ proper monitoring equipment or procedures," "had no working EKG machine," and didn't have a cardiac defibrillator. They noted that no one on staff was qualified to perform CPR. No one on staff was qualified to administer anesthesia, and they did not use proper procedures or equipment. Anesthesia was administered "by eye," with no means of accurately measuring the dose. Dosage was estimated to be twice that recommended in the procedure manual.

The operating rooms were found to be ill-lit, and there was no soap or paper towels at the scrub sink. The scrub sinks were stained, the walls and floors dirty, trash was stored in the scrub room. There were red make-up stains on the oxygen masks and nitrous oxide masks, dusty tubing on the suction machines, and blood on the wheels of the operating table. 

Professional headshot of a very distinguished-looking older white man with a balding grey pate, neatly trimmed grey beard, and wire-rim eyeglasses
Dr. David Gluck
CRASH had no documentation verifying the credentials or qualifications of medical director David Gluck. Gluck had been previously convicted of felony charges related to the sale of 48,000 Diluadid tablets to pay off gambling debts. His license had actually been revoked two months before Kelly's death, but had been restored by judicial stay.


There was no evidence at the investigation two weeks after Kelly's death that Gluck had reviewed her chart, or the charts of 18 other patients identified as having suffered complications.


The state closed CRASH for 60 days, but it never re-opened.

Dr. Gluck went on to perform the fatal abortion on Alerte Desanges in 1994.



Sunday, August 09, 2020

August 9: The Work of a Physician Before Legalization

On August 9, 1927, Irene Campbell died in the Chicago office of Dr. Herman Webber from an abortion performed there that day. Webber was arrested on August 9, and on September 1 he was indicted for felony murder. Irene's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. 

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Safe and Legal in California, 1979

On August 6, 1975, 29-year-old Cheryl Tubbs underwent a saline abortion at Pacific Glen Hospital in Los Angeles County. She experienced heavy vaginal bleeding after this safe, legal abortion, so she was transferred to White Hospital on the evening of August 7. It's unclear why Cheryl was transferred to such a distant hospital: the ambulance drove past at least three other hospitals on the way there, including County USC Women's Hospital.

Cheryl continued to bleed profusely, and twice went into cardiac arrest. Staff performed a paracentesis on her to remove blood and fluids from her abdomen. About an hour after midnight, staff could no longer detect any blood pressure. For an hour they tried heart massage, to no avail. Cheryl was pronounced dead at 2:30AM on August 8.

An autopsy revealed that Cheryl's uterus had ruptured during the abortion, spilling blood and uterine material into her abdomen. She had bled to death. The inquest into her death was purportedly delayed due to the suit filed against the hospital on behalf of Cheryl's three minor children. This seems odd, since the suit was filed in 1978, about two and a half years after the fatal abortion.

Two years later, Jackie Bailey also bled to death from a ruptured uterus caused by a saline abortion at Pacific Glen.

Saline abortion was hardly a pleasant experience. The abortionist would remove as much amniotic fluid as he could using a needle and syringe. He would then replace the amniotic fluid with a concentrated saline (salt) solution that would poison and kill the fetus. The woman would then go into labor and expel the fetus.

Saline abortions became very popular in Japan following WWII. Within the Japanese medical community, however, word quickly spread: this method was unsatisfactory. Too many women were being injured and killed. Over 70 papers were published in the Japanese medical community reporting hazards of saline abortions, including at least 60 maternal deaths. The Japanese Obstetrical and Gynecological Society condemned the technique, and it was quickly abandoned. But the Japanese abortionists kept news of the trouble among themselves -- until Western nations discovered instillation abortions and embraced them with great enthusiasm.

Two Japanese doctors, Takashi Wagatsuma and Yukio Manabe, broke the silence. Wagatsuma wrote, "It is, I think, worthwhile to report its rather disastrous consequences which we experienced in Japan." Manabe wrote, "It is now known that any solution placed within the uterus can be absorbed rather rapidly into the general circulation through the vascular system of the uterus and placenta. Thus any solution used in the uterus for abortion must be absolutely safe even if given by direct intravenous injection. ... A solution deadly to the fetus may be equally toxic and dangerous to the mother. ... In spite of the accumulating undesirable reports, the use of hypertonic saline for abortion is still advocated and used ... in the United States and Great Britain. I would like to call attention to the danger of the method and would predict the further occurrence of deaths until this method is entirely forgotten in these countries."

As western abortionists gained experience with saline abortions, other grim reports arose. A British study published in 1966 found that the saline would enter the mother's bloodstream and cause brain damage. Swedish researchers noticed an unacceptably high rate of complications and deaths. Sweden and the Soviet Union abandoned saline abortion as too dangerous for women in the late 1960s.

For whatever reasons, American abortionists were deaf to these warnings. When New York had completely repealed its abortion law, doctors had tremendous leeway in abortion practice. In New York City in particular, it became popular to inject the woman with the saline in the office, then send her home with instructions to report to a hospital when she went into labor. This was, to say the least, a highly irresponsible way to use an abortion technique that was risky even when performed in a hospital under close medical supervision. Women started dying from these reckless saline abortions.

After Roe v Wade was handed down, saline and other instillation abortions spread to other areas of the country, despite the dismal goings-on in New York and California, and of course more women died.

US abortionists showed no alarm over these deaths. Even as late as the 1990's, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and abortionists such as Don Sloan and Warren Hern, were describing saline and other instillation abortions in such terms as "a low-risk procedure."

Statics show, however, that abortionists did gradually move away from saline instillation abortions, albeit more slowly in New York City than in the rest of the country.


Since the problem of maternal deaths from instillation abortions had been long documented, this factor probably only had a minor impact on the move away from saline and other instillation abortions. One important factor was financial: although suction and D&C were adequate procedures for first-trimester abortions, they were inadequate for killing and removing the larger second-trimester fetuses. But the uterus was not large enough to perform instillation abortions until 16 weeks. This left a 4-week "grey period" during which women could change their minds about aborting.

There was also the problem of starting an abortion only to discover that the pregnancy was already in the second trimester. Necessity is the mother of invention, and abortionists who found themselves dealing with second-trimester fetuses that had already been damaged had to come up with ways to remove these fetuses quickly and without alarming the patient. Thus evolved the Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure that remained popular for mid-trimester abortions for over a decade.

D&E was cheaper than instillation abortions, which required at least an overnight hospital stay. It also had the advantage of producing fewer live births, the "dreaded complication" no abortionist wanted to face.

New source on Cheryl's death: "Malpractice Suit Delays Abortion Death Inquest," Los Angeles Times, April 2, 1978



Friday, August 07, 2020

Safe and Legal in 1979, 1983, and 1988

One of Four Deaths in a Miami Clinic, 1979

Ruth Montero, age 23, underwent a safe and legal vacuum abortion of her 8-week pregnancy, under general anesthesia, August 7, 1979, at Women's Care Center in Miami. The abortion was performed by Dr. Elisa Avila. Ruth awoke from anesthesia in the recovery room, and went into convulsions and cardiopulmonary arrest. Avila attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before calling the ambulance. Ruth was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital She died from hemorrhage, and a prolapsed mitral valve.

Ruth was the first of four women to die at Women's Care Center in addition to multiple women who sued the clinic alleging that they suffered potentially fatal injuries. One woman suffered undiagnosed punctures to her uterus and bowels in 1980. Maura Morales died in 1980. A woman suffered a ruptured uterus in 1981. Another woman needed a hysterectomy due to a large laceration in her uterus in 1982. Myrtha Baptiste died December 18, 1982, and Shirley Payne died on January 4, 1983.

The clinic was owned by Hipolito Barreiro, trained in Argentina and West Africa, but not licensed in U.S. Barreiro was accused of practicing without a license and tampering with witness. (See new sources below)


Safe and Legal in Connecticut, 1983

Mary Ives was 28 when she had an abortion 19 weeks into her pregnancy. She was admitted to W.W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, Connecticut, for treatment of complications of the abortion, but her heart and lungs failed due to amniotic fluid embolism (amniotic fluid that got into Mary's bloodstream). Mary was pronounced dead on August 7, 1983.

Safe and Legal in Mississippi, 1988

Teresa Smith was 31 years of age when she submitted to a D&C abortion in Mississippi. She went into cardio-respiratory arrest from a pulmonary embolism and was pronounced dead at a local hospital on August 7, 1988.

Ruth Montero sources:
  • "Woman, 23, Dies After Abortion," Miami Herald, August 8, 1979
  • "Death Traced to Heart Valve," Miami Herald, August 9, 1979
  • "Chronology of Claims Against Women's Care Center," Miami Herald, January 7, 1983




Thursday, August 06, 2020

August 6: A Midwife in Chicago, an Unknown Facility in Lancaster, CA

A Midwife's Work: Chicago, 1920

On August 6, 1920, 35-year-old Christina Anderson died at Chicago's County Hospital from a criminal abortion. Midwife Emelia Schaffer was arrested for murder, and a woman named Pearl Freese as an accessory. Schaffer was indicted on August 14, but the case never went to trial. (See Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database)

Found Dead in a Motel Room, 1988

In late July of 1988, 30-year-old Laura Sorrels underwent an abortion at a facility in Lancaster, California. Two weeks later, on August 6th, she was found dead in a motel room. Her one-year-old daughter was found in the room with her. Whoever had performed Laura's abortion had failed to notice that the embryo was not in her uterus, but was in her fallopian tube. The tube ruptured, and Laura died of blood loss and shock, her baby daughter by her side. Even though, in theory, women who choose abortion should be less likely to die of ectopic pregnancy complications, experiences shows that they're actually more likely to die, due to sloppy practices by abortion practitioners.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Bad Typing Brings Another Case to Light

While looking for new material on the 1909 death of a girl who'd been misidentified as Lillian Swing, I made several discoveries about the case, which will debut on August 15, the anniversary of Lillian's death. I also discovered an abortion death I hadn't known about.

I usually do an annual search on Newspapers.com for a five-year period in older deaths because that's usually long enough for trials and appeals to run their course. But instead of typing in 1909-1914, I accidentally typed in 1909-1924 and stumbled across the death of 18-year-old Frances Guest. Lillian's name was in the news coverage because the prosecutor hoped to have her mother testify about Dr. Robert J. C. Hamilton's history as an abortionist.

Frances was a clerk in the shipping department at Evanston Women's Christian Temperance Union. Sie died on November 19, 1922.

Frances' sister, Mary Kramer, testified that she had brought Frances to Hamilton's office and dickered over the cost of the abortion. Hamilton wanted $35 ($533 in 2020 dollars), but Mary only had $25 so they left. Mary apparently had availed herself of Hamilton's services, since she declined to answer if she had done so.

Frances' sister-in-law, Elizabeth Guest, said that on the day of the abortion she'd waited in Hamilton's waiting room for about half an hour. She also said that she'd seen the baby.

"When [Frances] came out," Elizabeth said, "she was jubilant and joked a lot on the way home. That was on a Tuesday in October. The following Sunday she was very sick. I came into her room while she lay on a couch ill."

Dr. John D. Brix testified that Frances's mother, Myra, had called him and asked him to come to the home and care for Frances on several occasions between the abortion and her hospitalization. Brix said that Myra told him that the abortion had been performed by "Dr. Hamilton, with offices on Belmont avenue near Halsted street." Brix said that he knew which doctor Myra meant. Dr. I. H. Chilcott, who had cared for Frances at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, testified about her death. Dr. J. N. Goltra, the coroner's physician, testified that Francis had died from blood poisoning. Hamilton's defense argued that the blood poisoning might have been caused by a pre-existing condition.

Frances reportedly made a deathbed statement implicating Hamilton.

Hamilton perjured himself on the stand by contradicting sworn statements he had made during the inquest. As he was leaving the stand, Frances's mother came forward and testified that she and other relatives withheld or modified their testimony in return for $450 in cash ($6,800 in 2020 dollars) and a promise of $450 more if the verdict was for acquittal. W. C. Dannenberg, an investigator for the defense team, dickered with Myra over the amount of the bribe. Myra's confession was substantiated by banking records and other relatives. This testimony caused an outburst in the courtroom.

Jury deliberations were contentious, nearly devolving into a fistfight before finally voting for acquittal as the original five jurors voting for conviction were swayed. "We agreed in our arguments before we balloted that Dr. Hamilton probably committed an abortion on Frances Guest," said the jury foreman. "We did not try him for abortion, but for murder. There were too many doctors who treated the girl; there was too much time between the operation and the death; and there were jurors who were influenced by the fact that a penitentiary sentence for Hamilton really was a life sentence. There was too much reasonable doubt as to whether he caused the death."

I've found no evidence that any of the involve parties -- including George Alf, believed to be the baby's father -- were charged with any crimes.

Sources:

  • "Expects Action by Grand Jury in Girl's Death," Chicago Daily Tribune, December 12, 1922
  • "Physician Faces Trial for Murder in Abortion Case," Chicago Tribune, February 27, 1923
  • "Many Testify Against Doctor as Abortionist," Chicago Daily Tribune, April 10, 1923
  • "Girl's Death 15 Years Ago Cited Against Doctor," Chicago Daily Tribune, April 11, 1923
  • "Dead Girl's Kin Confess Taking Abortion Bribe," Chicago Daily Tribune, April 12, 1923
  • "Dr. Hamilton is Freed of Murder; Jurors Wrangle," Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1923








Criminal Deaths 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. (See Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database)

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. (See Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database)

A Habitual Offender in Wichita, 1924

Lorean Franklin, a 19-year-old Southwestern Bell Telephone employee, of Buffalo, Missouri, on August 4, 1924 in Wichita, Kansas. An inquest was held to verify if Dr. Charles C. Keester had perpetrated a fatal abortion on her. Lorean died in Keester's hospital. Authorities believed that he had performed the abortion on August 1. Lorean's sister, Addie Furlington, swore a complain against Franklin in the death. The autopsy found that Lorean had died of peritonitis. Keester asserted that he had operated on Lorean for gallstones.

Two young men who were not identified in the source were "alleged to have admitted their connection with the affair and to have made arrangements with the doctor for the operation."

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. The Newton Journal noted, "Dr. Keester has an infamous reputation in Wichita and evidently has been pulling iniquity with a cart rope. It is alleged that the officers were ready on numerous occasions to close in on questionable cases but the relatives involved would back out, avoiding publicity and scandal."

Keester was charged originally charged with first degree murder but ultimately convicted of manslaughter in Lorean's death. He was freed on bail pending the new trial. I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case, but he would go on to be convicted in the February 28, 1930 abortion death of Rena Armstrong, age 17. Either Keester won his appeal or served a very short sentence in Lorean's death. (New sources below.)

A Chicago Midwife, 1942 

On August 4, 1942, 18-year-old Eva Moyer died after an abortion perpetrated by Chicago midwife Katheryn Eickenberg, age 58. Her body had been discovered in the attic of the attic of Eickenberg's home. 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. Eva hailed from South Langhor, Pennsylvania. I have been unable to determine why she was in Chicago. (Newly added sources below.)

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 firefighter 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.



Suicide after an abortion isn't as rare as the abortion lobby tries to indicate. In fact, one of the deaths the Centers for Disease Control listed in their 1971 Abortion Surveillance Summary was of a young woman I call "Sandra" who expressed remorse and killed herself after her abortion. Sandra's death was particularly needless because a review of her records at the clinic showed that she hadn't actually been pregnant, but nobody at the clinic had thought to contact Sandra and tell her that. 

If I had the Cemetery of Choice back up and running, I'd provide links to other post-abortion suicides. That will be coming in the future.

*****

Lorean Franklin Sources:

  • "Lorean Franklin," Newton Kansan, August 8, 1924
  • "Charge Doctor With Murder Following Alleged Operation," Hutchinson News, August 11, 1924
  • "Kansas Notes," Concordia Press, August 14, 1924
  • "Keester Facing Murder Charge," The Newton Kansan," August 15, 1924
  • "Dr. Chas. C. Keester Charged With Murder," The Newton Journal, August 22, 1924
  • "Dr. Keester Charged With Malpractice," The Newton Journal, August 29, 1924
  • "Keester Asking for New Trial," The Newton Journal, December 12, 1924


Eva Moyer Sources:

  • "Vote to Indict Woman Named in Abortion Death," Chicago Tribune, August 13, 1942
  • "Nurse Convicted of Murder by Abortion," Decatur Herald, December 5, 1942
  • "14-Year Term In Fatal Operation," Evening Sun, December 10, 1942

































Monday, August 03, 2020

August 11: A Nurse or Midwife in Chicago

On August 11, 1923, 26-year-old Martha Byzynski died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from an abortion performed that day.

The coroner named Jane Worchowski as the person responsible. Worchowski's profession is given as nurse or midwife.

Three Safe, Legal Abortion Deaths

A Saline Abortion in Detroit, 1982


Dr. Youl Choi
Angel Dardie, age 22, left two children motherless when she died on August 3, 1982, of disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (a clotting disorder) after a safe, legal saline abortion performed by Youl Choi at Plymouth General Hospital near Detroit. Angel's mother sued, but was awarded a meager settlement of $6000 from Choi and $2500 from the hospital, roughly half of which was eaten up by legal fees and funeral expenses. Choi was also sued on behalf of two abortion patients who had been left incapacitated by their injures and on behalf of a baby who had been born alive then left in a bucket, delaying medical care until after she had suffered serious injuries.

Delayed Transfer in New York, 1991



Dr. Orrin Moore
Dawn Mack, a 21-year-old clerk, had an abortion performed at National Abortion Federation member facility Eastern Women's Center August 2, 1991.  Dawn, the mother of an infant, was about 15 or 16 weeks into her pregnancy. A doctor inserted laminaria to dilate Dawn's cervix then sent her home. She returned the following day for the procedure. During the abortion, Dawn went stopped breathing. Her oxygen saturation level dropped to 88%. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Aurel Calalb, administered oxygen and Dawn's oxygen level returned to normal. Calalb did not make a note of this incident, nor did he mention it to Dr. Orrin Moore, who was performing the procedure. (Moore later let his New York license expire and relocated to Kansas.)


Dawn was declared stable, with her blood pressure recorded at 8:55 a.m. as 130/80. She was sent to the recovery room just down the hall where her blood pressure was recorded as only 96/60 and her pulse 96. In spite of this alarming sign that Dawn was in severe trouble, nurse Linda Wissbrun noted that Dawn was unusually drowsy then left the recovery room. Several other nurses were present with Dawn, who was at the time the only patient there, but nobody documented attending to the young woman in any way. When Wissbrun returned five minutes later, she found Dawn completely unresponsive. She tried to find a pulse and sent for help.

Eastern's nursing supervisor arrived about five minutes later and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. There was no crash cart or ambu bag immediately available. Dr. Elena Raftopol, another anesthesiologist, arrived at around 9:07 a.m. and began to administer oxygen by ambu-bag, then took Dawn to the operating room where she intubated her and began CPR. Dawn was not transported to a hospital until 10:00 a.m., nearly an hour after staff first noted that she wasn't breathing. Dawn was pronounced dead at 4:30 pm.

An autopsy noted that she had suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. All of the defendants in the case filed by Dawn's survivors argued that an amniotic fluid embolism can not be prevented or treated and thus Dawn would have died no matter what they had done. The jury found that the clinic and nurse Wissbrun were 100% liable.

Eastern Women's Center also provided fatal abortion care to Dawn Ravenelle and Venus Ortiz.

New source: "$604,000-Jury Verdict Failure To Diagnose And Treat AmnioticFluid Embolism In Patient After An Abortion - Wrongful Death Of21 Year Old - Five Minutes Of Pain And Suffering"

Homicide in California, 2009



Dr. Andrew Rutland
On July 28, 2009, 30-year-old Ying Chen, who did not speak English, went to Andrew Rutland's abortion facility in San Gabriel, California, for a safe, legal abortion. Rutland's records for Ying were paltry and inadequate. He administered medications that he was not authorized to dispense. She began to have a clear adverse reaction to the drugs, and Rutland asked an accupuncturist who shared his office to call 911. According to the paramedics who responded, nobody at the facility was providing any care to Ying when they arrived, although she was in cardiorespiratory arrest. Though there was a crash cart in the clinic -- albeit one with expired medications -- and another in Rutland's car, nobody at the clinic used either one to treat the dying patient. Rutland had been in previous trouble with the medical board, and was in violation of many of their stipulations when he provided the lethal care to Ying. The medical examiner determined Ying's manner of death to be homicide, but to my knowledge no charges were ever pressed against Rutland.

For more background on Rutland's appalling treatment of Ying, read "Last year's abortion death declared homicide."

Sunday, August 02, 2020

From Illegal in Chicago to Safe and Legal in Akron

Multiple Doctors 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 didn'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 heard 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 also implicated in 1917 in the abortion death of Emma Melvin.

I've been unable to determine who was ultimately held accountable for Stella's death. (See Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database)

Illegal in Chicago, 1937

Plenz's ad in the 1904 Chicago Tribune
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. Dr. Plenz had been implicated in the abortion death of Margaret McCarthy in 1904 and Sarah Cushing in 1905.

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.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Cases For August 1: 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.

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 was found dead 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 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, as has been usually reported, but rather Roger Kusner, who perpetrated the fatal abortion. Since Dr. Virani was a medical examiner it is possible that his name on a document confused a researcher at some point.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Unlicensed Doctor in Pennsylvania, 1918

Dr. Herman Spangler of Easton, Pennsylvania was arrested in the summer of 1918 on two charges of abortion. One woman survived her ordeal, though her husband reported Spangler to the police. The other woman, 20-year-old silk worker Cecelia Dieber, was not so fortunate. She died on July 31 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown 48 hours after being admitted. Fetal tissue had been left in her uterus and she had contracted tetanus from her injuries.

Spangler, who had just been drafted and was about to be shipped out for induction, was arrested and brought to the hospital shortly before Cecelia's death. There, both she and her mother identified him as the man who had perpetrated Cecelia's abortion on July 20. Cecelia's lover had been drafted and sent to France in the Army, which might have contributed to her decision to abort the pregnancy.

Spangler was also charged with practicing medicine without a license, though he claimed to be a graduate of the Metropolitan College of Chicago.

Spangler pleaded guilty on all charges and was sentenced to serve ten years and six months in prison and faced a fine of $1,500.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Prochoice Site Adequately Documents 1960 Abortion Death

According to "When Abortion was Illegal (and Deadly): Seattle's Maternal Death Toll," Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History ProjectClaudette Sayles, a 23-year-old Black woman was a student living in Seattle in 1960.

Mae Etta Scott, age 22, admitted to assisting in preparations for an abortion to be perpetrated in Claudette's apartment. Claudette died of abortion complications on July 30.


Police arrested Scott and she was charged with second-degree murder. The jury believed Scott's defense that nothing she had done had caused Claudette's death, so they acquitted her.


The Project cites the August 10, August 19, and December 16, 1960 issues of the Seattle Times and includes a clipping, "Murder Charge Filed in Death of Woman," from the August 10 Seattle Times which identifies Scott as a telephone operator and notes that a 20-year-old woman undergoing an abortion at the same time was being held as a material witness.


Taking this amount of care to verify and document a death is a laudable break from the usual abortion-rights web site. Usually they just copy and past a blub from another site without first verifying the story. This has led to at least two instances I know of in which there was no actual evidence that an illegal abortion was involved: Becky Bell and Pauline Shirley. To this day, Wikipedia insists that Becky died from an abortion in spite of the fact that her autopsy report shows otherwise. Kudos to the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project for doing their homework.