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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Alma Dittman: The Midwife-Abortionist of Denver

I stumbled on a number of other abortion deaths while digging for more information on August 1, 1922, death of 27-year-old divorcee Carrie McDonald.

Carrie had died at the county hospital in Denver, Colorado from the effects of an abortion believed to have been perpetrated by nurse/midwife Alma Dittman, age 52, who had been implicated by one of Carrie's friends. I had been hoping to determine the outcome of the investigation into Carrie's death, but I found much, much more.

Newspapers.com is my go-to source. I didn't find much more on Carrie, so I searched for Alma Dittman and found two more abortion deaths: Rose Savoren and Mabel Duncan. When information on them was scanty I took to the Library of Congress archives and found even more deaths: Blance Grace Ainsley and Maybelle Pearl Cannon. Relentless searching hasn't found me any more information than what I'm presenting here, but I'll search other databases as I get the opportunity.


The February 9, 1912 Santa Fe New Mexican notes that Dittman, identified as a midwife, had been charged by the Colorado board of health with murder due to an abortion that killed Mrs. Blanche Grace Ainsley. The state's attorneys announced that they had no case so it was dropped.

According to the August 30, 1917 Elk Mountain Pilot, Dittman was charged in the abortion death of Mrs. Mabelle Pearl Cannon. Dittman pleaded not guilty and was released on $5,000 bond.

I've been unable to find anything other than a nolo contendere plea regarding Carrie's death in 1922. Thus, Alma Dittman was free to continue plying her trade.

The November 15, 1923 Arizona Republican notes that a coroner's jury declared Dittman responsible for the abortion death of Mabel Duncan, a mother of five, who died in her home Monday, November 12. Mabel had given a statement on October 18 indicating that Dittman had perpetrated the abortion that day. Mabel's husband, Fred, a traveling salesman, said that he'd been on the road when he'd gotten a telegram from Dittman, a woman his wife had identified as "a lady that has been taking care of me."

August 1927 papers note that Dittman, identified as "practical nurse and alleged midwife," was charged with second degree murder in the death of 24-year-old Miss Rose Savoren of Leadville, Colorado. Rose died on July 31 at St. Anthony's Hospital. She had been admitted on July 27. Rose and a friend, Miss Pearson, had come to Denver earlier that week and checked into the St. Francis Hotel. Miss Pearson said that Rose hadn't told her about the abortion but had left for the hospital saying that she was going fishing with friends. Miss Pearson said that she'd heard nothing more until summoned to the hospital by her dying friend on Sunday. Rose had also summoned her sister and other friends to her deathbed. She named Dittman as her abortionist before she died.

A diary among Rose's effects noted "a road house romance" with a man who was not believed to be the baby's father.

The District Attorney's office said that Dittman had perpetrated more than 1,000 abortions over a ten-year period. Her arrest was the fifth time she'd been charged with abortion. In all previous cases, they said, she'd been released on technicalities. 

During her trial, on December 15, 1927, the day the defense was to start presenting its case, Dittman committed suicide in her home by turning on all the gas jets on her stove. Her body was discovered by a friend who had come by to drive her to the trial. Dittman had left a note on the table proclaiming her innocence but expressing fear that the jury would find her guilty. She left $500 of her $20,000 estate to her dogs. The remaining money went to her son and two grandsons.

With such scanty information I can't determine what Alma Dittman's actual involvement was in these deaths or why she was free to practice when she was evidently a known abortionist.

Sources:

  • "Midwife Acquitted," Santa Fe New Mexican, February 9, 1912
  • "Colorado News," The Elk Mountain Pilot, August 30, 1917
  • "Denver Woman Held Responsible For Death Of Another," Arizona Republican, November 15, 1923
  • "Midwife Arrested For Woman's Death," Ft. Collins Express Courier, December 31, 1923
  • "Denver Nurse Arrested in Illegal Operation Probe," Ft. Collins Express Courier, August 2, 1927
  • "Women is Accused of 1,000 Illegal Acts," Albuquerque Journal, August 3, 1927
  • "Denver Woman Kills Self While on Trial Charged With Murder, Longmont Daily Times, December 15, 1927
  • "$500 Bequeathed by Mrs. Dittman to Her Two Dogs," Ft. Collins Express Courier, December 19, 1927









Doctors, a Layman, and a Diagnostic Failure

Two Doctors Arrested, 1941

On July 29, 1941, 34-year-old Agnes Pearson of White Plains, New York died at Grasslands Hospital in New York of peritonitis caused by complications from three abortion attempts perpetrated on July 11, July 26, and July 28. Agnes left two children motherless.

Dr. Nathan Schwartz, age 55, and Dr. Samuel Schwartz (not related), age 68, were charged with first degree manslaughter in Agnes' death. The Grand Jury heard evidence from Agnes' husband, four hospital doctors, three nurses, state police, and a laboratory worker.


New source: "Indict 2 Doctors As Woman Dies," New York Daily News, August 8, 1941

A Professional Lay Abortionist, 1949

On July 29, 1949, on the basis of a third-party referral, telegraph operator Dorothy Martin, just short of her 24th birthday, went to the Georgia home of P.D. Beigun for an abortion. Beigun was a contractor by trade. Dorothy, with the assistance of a man named Virgil Echols, age 21, had visited Beigun a few days earlier to make the arrangements. Beigun took Dorothy into a bedroom while Echols waited in the living room. About 15 or 20 minutes later, Echols heard a sound described as a "slump," and Beigun called for him to come and help. Beigun went into the other room and found Beigun supporting an unconscious Dorothy by the waist. Dorothy made a gurgling sound.

Echols helped Beigun lay Dorothy on the bed. Echols tried to revive Dorothy, and asked Beigun what happened. Beigun indicated that he'd packed Dorothy's uterus with gauze. The men summoned police and an ambulance. While they waited, Beigun instructed Echols on what story they were to tell. They were to say that they'd been sitting in the living room with Dorothy when she'd felt faint. Then, they'd say, Dorothy fainted and they moved her to the bed. 


When the police arrived, Dorothy was dead. The next day the toxicologist and a physician performed an autopsy. They found that Dorothy's cervix had been dilated, discolored, and abraded, and that her injury must have been very painful. They believed that gauze had been forced into Dorothy's uterus, even though no gauze was present at autopsy, because her injuries were consistent with this scenario. They also concluded that Dorothy had gone into shock and died within a few minutes of her injury. The fetus appeared to be about three to four months of gestation. An obstetrician testified that Dorothy's baby hadn't been killed by the abortion attempt but had died due to her death.


In trial, it came out that Echols had previously brought his own wife to Beigun for an abortion. That abortion took place in June, 1948. Echols paid Beigun $65. Echols had dropped his wife off for the abortion and picked her up later to take her home. She became sick with nausea and pain, and Echols pulled a 6-inch rubber tube and about 60 feet of gauze out of his wife's uterus. Her pain became so great that Echols called a doctor, who had the sick woman brought to a hospital. Her temperature was 104 degrees. She was provided with penicillin and a blood transfusion. Beigun visited her at the hospital, asking why she'd not returned to him for treatment rather than going to somebody else. Documents don't reveal why Echols, whose own wife had very nearly died under Beigun's care, brought another woman to the same man for his dubious services.


Beigun's trial was delayed due to his stomach problems and not being in "a mental and physical condition as to be able to confer rationally with his counsel." Ten of the 12 jurors hearing Beigun's case voted for the death penalty before settling on life in prison during an hour of deliberation. Beigun lost his appeal.

In a particularly tragic coincidence, another young woman, 'Nita Brown, died the following September from complications of an abortion shortly before Beigun's trial. 'Nita lived at the same address as Dorothy, though it's not clear if they were roommates or just lived in the same building.

See sources below.


Two Misdiagnoses, 1985


Twenty-six-year-old Yvette Poteat had an abortion performed by Dr. Marion D. Dorn Jr. at The Ladies Clinic in Charleston, South Carolina on July 16, 1985. A lawsuit filed by her surviving mother and sister says that Dorn did not examine the tissue he removed from Yvette's uterus, and did not notify Yvette that the lab report showed no fetal or placental tissue in the specimen.

On July 27, Yvette experienced "sudden, sharp, constant lower abdominal pains," and was taken to a hospital by her fiancée. She was admitted to the emergency room, where she informed the doctors about the abortion. She was mistakenly diagnosed as having Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, was given medication, and was discharged after several hours with instructions to seek follow-up care in two days.

Throughout July 28, Yvette experienced continued pain. She called the hospital but "was instructed not to return but to give the medication a chance to work."

Early in the morning of July 29, Yvette collapsed at home. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She went into cardiac arrest due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that both Dorn and the hospital staff had failed to diagnose, and was pronounced dead 6:15 a.m.

The lawsuit noted that Yvette's mother "suffered the loss of the financial support of her daughter, extreme mental shock and suffering, wounded feelings, extreme grief and sorrow, has lost the love and affection and companionship of a loving and wonderful daughter, has been deprived of the use and comfort of her society."

The suit against Dorn, the clinic, the hospital and hospital doctors won a small $23,000 plaintiff verdict in 1987.


**********

Dorothy Martin Sources:

  • 206 Ga. 618, 58 S.E.2d 149; Supreme Court of Georgia. Biegun v. State No. 16985.Feb. 16, 1950
  • "Contractor Indicted In Abortion Death," Atlanta Constitution, August 3, 1949
  • "Girl, Left Mysteriously At Hospital Clinic, Dies," Atlanta Constitution, September 1, 1949
  • "Couple Held in Death Of Girl Left at Grady," Atlanta Constitution, September 3, 1949
  • "Abortion Death Cause, Dr. Jones Tells Court," Atlanta Constitution, September 14, 1949
  • "Beigun's Stomach Upset Recesses Abortion Case," Atlanta Constitution, September 15, 1949
  • "Death Laid To Shock In Abortion Case," Atlanta Constitution, September 16, 1949
  • "Abortion Case Life Sentence Is Pronounced," Atlanta Constitution, September 18, 1949







Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Black Women's Lives on the Abortion Table

Blacks comprise about 12 percent of the US population, yet Black woman are sold roughly 25 percent of abortions. More disturbing is this fact: Black women account for at least 50 percent of known abortion deaths. 


A smiling Black teenage girl, with her hair in a short afro. She wears a medium-toned shirt with a high, scalloped collar.
Charisse Ards
This bears repeating: A young Black woman is twice as likely to be sold an abortion as a young white woman, and once she gets on the abortion table, she is at least twice as likely to suffer fatal complications as a white woman. More to the point, a Black woman coming of age in the US is at least four times more likely to die from abortion complications than a white woman coming of age.

Charisse Ards is one of the women Life Dynamics lists on the Blackmun Wall of women killed by safe and legal abortion. Life Dynamics indicates that Charisse was 20 years old, single, and a mother of one. According to Life Dynamics, Charisse died July 28, 1989, from a pelvic infection after a legal abortion.


Thirty-two-year-old Mary Ann Dancy was a mother of five children ranging in age from 2 to 17 when she went to Fleming Center in North Raleigh, North Carolina for a safe and legal abortion on July 27, 1990. She was accompanied by a male friend and her sister, Carolyn.

The abortion was performed by Clarence J. Washington at around 4:00 p.m. He documented no complications. "She seemed all right," Carolyn told the Raleigh News & Observer. "She walked to the car.

After Mary Ann went home, she took a bath and went to bed. However, she bled heavily but Washington did not return her calls. The next day, July 28, she was taken by ambulance to Halifax Memorial Hospital. She died that night during emergency surgery from hemorrhage due to a lacerated cervix.


Fleming Center had been the first freestanding abortion clinic in North Raleigh when it was originally founded by Dr. Paul Fleming. When he died in 1989, Raleigh Women's Health Organization bought the practice, which was purchased by Washington shortly thereafter. He closed it in 1991. He faced two more lawsuits in the year after Mary Ann's death, including one woman who was hospitalized for ten days for uterine lacerations. Another woman sued after a failed abortion attempt by Washington.

Planned Parenthood indicated that they had stopped referring women to Washington when they were unable to verify that he had admitting privileges at any local hospitals.

New Sources: 

  • "Clinic, doctor sued in death," Raleigh News and Observer, July 29, 1992
  • "Doctor faces 3rd suit over clinic abortions," Raleigh News and Observer, July 21, 1993


Monday, July 27, 2020

Promising Young Lives Cut Short

Safe and Legal in Florida, 1974
Gina Gardner

Gina Gardner
, a 17-year-old cheerleader at Gulf Comprehensive High School in West Pasco, Florida went into convulsions almost immediately after Dr. James R. Lund administered the local anesthetic Lidocaine. She convulsed for nearly twenty minutes. That was the fourth time he administered the drug to Gina while she was still under the effects of an initial dose of Demerol for her abortion. Gina was pronounced dead at the hospital that day, July 27, 1974.


Gina's mother, Patricia Kennedy, had to wrangle to even bring the case to court because of a recently-passed Florida law regarding medical malpractice cases. Her suit alleged that Lund's office lacked the facilities and staff to deal with respiratory arrest and failed to provide appropriate informed consent. She ended up settling out-of-court for a mere $15,000.


An Erstwhile Back-Alley Butcher, 1985



Yvonne Mesteth
Eighteen-year-old Yvonne Mesteth was the second of two patients to die of infection after safe and legal abortions by South Dakota abortionist Benjamin Munson(The other was Linda Padfield.)

Yvonne was in the second trimester of her pregnancy when abortion was performed in Munson's office in Rapid City. She developed an infection, kidney failure, and adult respiratory distress syndrome. She died on July 27, 1985.

Munson is the third former criminal abortionist I've learned of who had a clean record -- no patient deaths -- as a criminal abortionist, only to go on to kill two patients in his legal practice. The others are Milan Vuitch (Georgianna English and Wilma Harris) and Jesse Ketchum (Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner).

Despite having already killed Linda Padfield, Munson was welcomed into the National Abortion Federation


******

New Gina Gardner sources: 

  • "Suit names Port Richey osteopath in death of woman's daughter," Tampa Bay Times, May 18, 1977
  • "Mother settles for $15,000 from doctor in death of daughter during abortion," Tampa Bay Times, March 15, 1978




Doctors' Work in 1884 and 1920

A Shady Doctor in 1884

Twenty-five-year-old Lizzie Cook, a domestic servant, died suddenly on July 27, 1884, in Lockport, New York.Dr. Ira T. Richmond (alias of Dr. Ira Butler) was arrested. Richmond, age 46, had come to Lockport a year earlier and opened a sanitarium, "which died for want of patronage." This might be due to the fact that, as the Chicago Inter Ocean reported on July 30, 1884, Richmond "had a dubious character among physicians."

Evidently Lizzie's brother-in-law, William, had taken her to Richmond's practice, where she was examined in his presence and diagnosed with dropsy and blood poisoning. Two days later, she was put to bed at Bowen's house at about 11:00 at night, and remained there sick for nearly three weeks before her death in the afternoon of July 27. Richmond attended to her on a daily basis, sometimes visiting more than once a day, during that time.

By Saturday evening, her body had already been packed in ice and taken to her parents' home. She was buried on Monday morning after a large funeral. "The secrecy in getting her body removed to her home created suspicion," so her body was exhumed that afternoon for an autopsy that revealed signs that she had died from a surgically performed abortion.

Richmond was immediately arrested and charged with either first degree murder or first degree manslaughter, according to differing sources. He pleaded not guilty, insisting that Lizzie had not been pregnant when she died and had died of dropsy and blood poisoning. "The evidence is strong against him, however," said the July 30, 1884 Cincinnati Enquirer. Sentiment against Richmond was so strong there fears that he would be lynched.

Richmond was convicted of first degree manslaughter on October 21, 1884. I have so far been unable to determine if his Canadian wife's testimony about his doings there was admitted into evidence. The jury recommended mercy. After requesting and being denied a new trial, Richmond/Butler was sentenced to six years of hard labor at Auburn Prison.


A Doctor Indicted, 1920


On July 27, 1920, 38-year-old homemaker Adelaide Fowler died at her Chicago home after a criminal abortion. Dr. Barney Welty was arrested, and indicted by a Grand Jury on August 1 but, for reasons I have been unable to determine, the case never went to trial.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Chicago: Unidentified in 1911, Physician in 1930

Katherine Collins, 23 years old, died on July 25, 1911 at Chicago's Lake Side Hospital from an abortion committed by an unidentified perpetrator. There were so many physicians and midwives practicing abortion in Chicago at the time that it is likely she availed herself of one of them.

On July 16, 1930, homemaker Evelyn Dellorto, age 20, underwent an illegal abortion believed to have been performed at the office of Dr. Frank Psota. Evelyn died on July 25, leaving behind her husband, James. On August 1, Psota was booked for murder by abortion even though the coroner's verdict was "undetermined." Psota was indicted, and held on $10,000 bond by Judge Lyle. On December 10, he was acquitted of the murder charge for reasons I've been unable to determine. Evelyn's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was attributed to a physician.

Friday, July 24, 2020

A Doctor in Chicago and a Lay Abortionist in North Carolina

Dr. Sven Windrow, Chicago, 1929

On July 16, 1929, Dr. Sven Windrow reportedly performed an abortion on 19-year-old Emmy Anderson at a Chicago location. Emmy died on July 24. Dr. Windrow was held by the coroner on July 25. Jacque Lagrave, age 67, was held as an accessory. Windrow was indicted February 6, 1929 for felony murder. Emmy, a native of Colic, Sweden, worked as a maid. Her abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Mrs. Sophie Layton, Raleigh, 1931

Mrs. Sophie Layton of Raleigh, North Carolina, was sentenced to five years for the abortion death of 20-year-old Miss Celia Roberts of Granville County. Celia had gone to Raleigh in July of 1931 for an abortion, which was perpetrated on July 22. She was taken to a hospital in Oxford, where she died on July 24 after naming Layton as her abortionist.

A Justice of the Peace, I. E. Harris, was arrested "on charges of advising and procuring the operation." He turned state's evidence and identified Layton as the abortionist -- though on her deathbed Celia had sworn that Harris had nothing to do with her situation.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Safe and Legal in 1961

Erika Peterson, age 28, was admitted to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California on July 11, 1961, due to trouble breathing. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed in a tank respirator. Erika was at that time in the first trimester of pregnancy. Her physicians made the decision to abort her child as soon as she was well enough to undergo the abortion. Abortion was, at that time, legal only to try to save the life of the mother.

On July 21, Erika's condition had improved, and her husband signed the consent form for the abortion, which was scheduled to take place two days later.

The abortion was started as scheduled on July 23. Erika went into cardiac arrest during the procedure and was unable to be resuscitated. The abortion that was intended to save her life ended her life instead.

After autopsy, it was believed that Erika's original illness was caused by a hereditary disease that was exacerbated by the medications she was taking for her schizophrenia.

Erika'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:
  • Allegra Roseberry was falsely told that she had to abort her baby in order to be eligible for an experimental cancer treatment 
  • 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.
  • "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.
Doctors will sometimes push for an abortion due to maternal conditions that do not make pregnancy nearly as risky as the woman is led to believe. Dr. Thomas Murphy Goodwin wrote about several examples in "Medicalizing Abortion Decisions," First Things, March, 1996:

Case #1: A 21-year-old woman, 19 weeks pregnant, had been referred for "immediate abortion" after being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. The patient was very distraught at the thought of aborting her baby so she was referred to Goodwin's practice for a second opinion. A second medical evaluation found that the patient's heart condition was mild and she was able to continue her pregnancy and have her baby.

Case #2: A 25-year-old woman, 12 weeks pregnant, was diagnosed with narrowing of a heart valve. Her physician recommended abortion, but Goodwin's practice suggested that the woman have a procedure done to correct the heart condition, since it could be performed safely during pregnancy. Her doctor expressed concerns about his liability if the patient did not abort. Goodwin did not learn of the final outcome of this woman's pregnancy.

Case #3: A 38-year-old woman, 11 weeks pregnant, was referred by her pastor. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was told that she should abort her baby so that she could undergo chemotherapy and actually had the abortion scheduled. Goodwin's practice reviewed the chemotherapy regimen with her and explained that though the long-term effects were unknown, it seemed to be well tolerated by the fetus when administered in pregnancy. The patient's doctor did not want to assume liability for the case so Goodwin's practice managed her chemotherapy. She delivered a healthy baby.

Case #4: A 20-year-old woman, 18 weeks pregnant, was diagnosed with kidney disease that seemed to be due to a new onset of lupus. Her doctor recommended that she undergo an abortion, both for her own health and to avoid any harm that might come to the fetus due to medications. The patient did not want to abort her baby. Goodwin's practice told her that although her chances of carrying her baby successfully to term were slim due to her condition, abortion would have an unpredictable effect on her own health. The patient was able to continue her pregnancy. Goodwin's practice repeatedly had to demonstrate to other physicians that certain diagnostic tests they wanted to do would not be likely to harm the baby and thus could safely be performed during pregnancy. The patient was thus able to pursue care for her own condition without having to abort her baby. Sadly, she went into premature labor at 27 weeks and her baby subsequently died from infection at one week of age.

Goodwin lamented that many women wound up undergoing unwanted abortions of wanted babies because they were misinformed by their doctors. Some of these doctors were merely -- albeit inexcusably -- ignorant, but others recommended abortion purely to avoid potential liability. This sort of bullying into unwanted abortions should be common ground for people all across the political spectrum.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Planned Parenthood's Racist Impact

At last Planned Parenthood has decided that Margaret Sanger is too racist for their tastes. At least in public. Her name will be removed from their flagship New York abortion center.

The erstwhile Margaret Sanger Center is where the unfortunate Roselle Owens met her death. 


Roselle's Story



A smiling Black teenage girl with long, straightened hair, wearing a low-cut white sweather and holding up a bottle of sparking cider.
Roselle proudly celebrating non-alcoholic
just two months before her fatal abortion.
Roselle Owens was a vibrant 17-year-old high school student, thinking ahead to college, when she discovered that she was pregnant in 2009.

She made the mistake of entrusting herself to Planned Parenthood of New York City. She went to the Margaret Sanger Center for an abortion on the morning of April 11. Dr. Gerald Zupnick, who has a history of malpractice, performed the abortion under general anesthesia. The anesthesia was contracted out to employees of Somnia, also called Outpatient Anesthesia Services.


Zupnick noted in the operative report that the abortion was "uneventful," completing the procedure at 9:20 a.m. Shortly thereafter, staff found that Roselle's breathing was labored and her blood oxygen levels had fallen. A lawsuit filed by Roselle's half-brother on behalf of himself, Roselle's father, and her twin brother asserted that neither Somnia employees, Zupnick, or Planned Parenthood's other staff properly monitored Roselle. The ambulance was not summoned for her until 9:43 a.m., over 20 minutes after the abortion was completed. EMS services transported Roselle to St. Vincent's Medical Center at 10:05 a.m.


Staff at the hospital were able to stabilize Roselle, but the damage had already been done. Roselle remained on a ventilator at St. Vincent's until her death on September 8. She died when she should have been just getting settled into her new college life.


Both Zupnick and Planned Parenthood settled off-the-books, thus ending the paper trail.


Roselle Owens isn't the only woman to die from complications of a Planned Parenthood abortion. 


No Friend to Black Women


Taking Margaret Sanger's name off the clinic where Roselle suffered her fatal injuries does nothing to change a disturbing pattern at Planned Parenthood: It's been Black women dying from Planned Parenthood abortions.



Cree Erwin-Shephard, age 24, suffered internal injuries during an abortion at Planned Parenthood in Kalamazoo, Michigan on June 30, 2016. She sought aftercare from a hospital and decided to stay at her mother's house for a while until she felt better. Her mother found her cold and dead in a basement bedroom on July 4. 



Tonya Reaves, age 24, was rushed to Northwest Memorial Hospital in Chicago and pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m. on Friday, July 21, 2012. She was taken there from the Planned Parenthood facility at 18 S. Michigan Avenue, which advertises abortions up to 18 weeks. Tonya had undergone a D&E abortion and ended up bleeding to death from an undiagnosed uterine perforation.



Portrait of a smiling young Black woman with long, straightened hair coiffed casually
Edrica Goode went to a Planned Parenthood in Riverside, California, on January 31, 2007, for a safe, legal second-trimester abortion. A nurse there inserted laminaria to dilate Edrica's cervx, although Edrica had symptoms of a vaginal infection at the time. Edrica, who had not told her family about the abortion, did not return to the facility to have the laminaria removed and the abortion completed because her mental state had deteriorated overnight. She had became feverish, her mother said. She became mentally "confused and disoriented," not knowing what day it was. Edrica's family took her to Riverside County Regional Medical Center on February 4. After Edrica's boyfriend told her family about the visit to Planned Parenthood, staff at the hospital performed a pelvic examination and discovered the laminaria, along with some gauze. Edrica miscarried that day, and died on February 14 from toxic shock syndrome.

Two Deaths Roughly 50 Years Apart

A Probably Lay Abortionist in New York, 1925

Very little is on record about the July 22, 1925 death of 17-year-old Gertrude Wynants. According to the New York Times, Gertrude died from a criminal abortion. Mrs. Margaret Shott Higgens, age 25, was indicted for manslaughter in Gertrude's death.

An Abortion Hospital in Detroit, 1974

On July 22, 1974, twenty-two-year-old Carole Wingo died of a Demerol over dose during a safe and legal abortion at Mercy General Hospital in Detroit. Despite the name, Mercy was not a general hospital. It was an abortion hospital. It was also a hospital in big trouble even before Carole's death.

The Michigan Public Department of Health had cited Mercy for 43 violations of nursing standards and 12 violations of physical plant standards in October of 1973, and had withheld their license. Among the violations were that the operating room lacked a cardiac monitor, a resuscitator, and a defibrillator. Carole's mother filed suit against the facility and doctors David Northcross, Chuk Nwokedi, and Robert Wolf.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Deadly Delay in 2012


Tonya Reaves, age 24, was rushed to Northwest Memorial Hospital in Chicago and pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m. on Friday, July 21, 2012. She was taken there from the Planned Parenthood facility at 18 S. Michigan Avenue, which advertises abortions up to 18 weeks. Tonya had undergone a D&E abortion, which indicates that she was likely between 14 and 18 weeks pregnant, although a misdiagnosis of fetal age might be the underlying cause of the injury.

The Centers for Disease Control published back in 1983, "Deaths from hemorrhage associated with legal induced abortion should not occur." In every hemorrhage death they investigated, "Lack of adequate postoperative monitoring or treatment of hemorrhagic shock" was a factor. Tonya's death was no exception. Her abortion was performed at 11:00 a.m., but she remained at the facility for hours until finally an ambulance was called, taking her to the hospital at 4:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., doctors performed an ultrasound, followed by another D&E procedure, though it is unclear whether they were removing retained tissue or aborting a second fetus. Tonya had continued pain and bleeding, so a second ultrasound was performed, revealing a uterine perforation. It is unclear whether this was a perforation from the initial D&E at Planned Parenthood or from the follow-up at the hospital.


Regardless of the source of the perforation, Tonya was returned to surgery, where “an uncontrollable bleed was discovered.” She was pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m. The CDC's article noted, "Deaths from hemorrhage can be eliminated by preventing uterine trauma during abortion and by rapidly diagnosing and treating hemorrhage if it occurs." Planned Parenthood, for some reason, failed to prevent the uterine trauma and failed to rapidly diagnose and treat Tonya's hemorrhage. The abortion giant has a lot of explaining to do.




Criminal Deaths: 1886, 1907, 1916, and 1923

Abortifacients From a Druggist Husband, 1886

On July 21, 1886, Mrs. Fred Winkleman was found dead in her Cincinnati home from a botched abortion. The last survivor of the Miller family, she had a small fortune of $13,000 which she had given over to Fred at their marriage four months earlier. Winkleman was arrested and freed on $5,000 bail. Police believed that Fred, a 26-year-old druggist, had intended his wife's death in order to have free use of the money. The scant news coverage seems to indicate that Fred had perpetrated the abortion himself. A headline in the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, "Poisoned His Bride," is the only indication of the means of the abortion. I've also been unable to determine whether he was ever prosecuted.

Midwives in Chicago, 1907

On July 21, 1907, 21-year-old homemaker Madeline Paffrath died at German American Hospital in Chicago. Before her death she took an oath with her hand on the Bible, vowing never to divulge the names of the two women who had perpetrated an abortion on her. Madeline's husband, John W. Paffrath, did not have so charitable a view of the women who had brought about his wife's death. He named Agnes Schustzner (Harcone Scheutner, according to the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database) as one of the two perpetrators. Other witnesses, saying that Schustzner was drunk at the time of the abortion, named Alice Gustafson as the first to attempt an abortion on Madeline. The coroner's jury held the two above-named midwives, along with midwife Alice Rastone.

An Amateur Abortionist, 1916

Elizabeth Radcliffe and Roy Hinterliter
Late in the evening of July 21, 1916, 21-year-old Roy Hinterliter showed up at the sanitarium in Olney, Illinois with a young woman, Miss Elizabeth Radcliffe, slumped over onto his lap in his buggy. Elizabeth, age 17, was immediately pronounced dead. It was eventually learned that she had died at a rural trysting spot near a bridge, where investigators found signs of a struggle. Imprints of Elizabeth's hands and Hinterliter's feet were found in the sand. After Elizabeth had died, Hinterliter had loaded her body into the buggy and ridden into town with her.

An autopsy confirmed pregnancy, but showed no external signs of violence and all her reproductive organs appeared normal. However, upon cutting open her heart, air escaped. One news report stated that the doctor "found the heart so filled with air that it made a hissing like a plugged rubber ball when a pin was stuck into it." There was so much air in Elizabeth's brain that it floated when placed in water. There were no lung lesions to explain the air in Elizabeth's bloodstream.

Two boys were spotted in town trying to hide a package. They were arrested, and told police that Hinterliter had asked them to get rid of the contents of the package -- a catheter with the plunger missing. They said that they had been with Hinterliter in the drug store when he'd bought it. He had told them that a doctor had told him how to use it. It eventually came out that Hinterliter had taken out the plunger and instead blown into the catheter -- with which he had accidentally punctured a vein. Thus he blew a quantity of air directly into Elizabeth's blood stream. She would have died almost instantly.


Hinterliter was sentenced to prison for Elizabeth's death.

Profession Unknown, 1923


On July 21, 1923, 28-year-old Mrs. Mary Federowicz died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from complications performed that day. Mrs. Anna Mithnewicz, whose profession was not given, was identified by the coroner as the person responsible, but no arrest was made. It's likely that Mary had availed herself of one of the many physicians or midwives who practiced abortion in Chicago at the time.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Another Old Criminal Death Uncovered

Today I stumbled across an article noting the arrest of 30-year-old Angela Rosa in the May 8, 1970 abortion death of 19-year-old Lillian Fernandez. Lillian was three months into her pregnancy. The abortion was performed in Rosa's apartment. Rosa entered a plea of not guilty and was released on $5,000 bail. I've been unable to find any further information about Lillian's death or the case against Rosa.

New York Daily News, July 25, 1970


Denver in 1913, New York in 1970

A Deadly Doctor in Denver, 1913

On July 20, 1913, Mrs. Emma Chandler, age 20, died suddenly from complications of a criminal abortion perpetrated the previous day. In a deathbed statement, she named Dr. J.A. Richmond as her abortionist. Her husband, Ora, a Denver grocery clerk, notified the police immediately after Emma's death.


An investigation revealed that a friend had accompanied Emma to Richmond's practice after finishing work at the offices of a lumber company. After the abortion she was driven home. Her husband returned from work and found Emma very weak. Overnight she became more and more ill. Around noon she realized that she was dying and sent for a neighbor, who she begged to pray for her. The neighbor remained by Emma's bedside, knitting and praying.


Some time in the afternoon Emma confessed about the abortion to her husband, saying she'd arranged it because she didn't want another child, feeling that her 3-year-old son was enough. Mr. Chandler sent for a doctor who lived across the street, but there was nothing he could do for her.


Maternal Indications in New York, 1970


Barbara Riley was 23 years old when she chose abortion. She had a history of sickle cell anemia and three previous term pregnancies -- two live births and a stillborn child. She was in her first trimester of pregnancy when she underwent the abortion on July 11, 1970 at Harlem Hospital. The abortion had been recommended by hospital staff because Barbara had a history of sickle cell disease.


The abortion would probably have been recommended as beneficial to Barbara's health, under New York's old abortion law; the new law just meant that they didn't need to leally justify going ahead with it. But instead of improving, Barbara's health deteriorated. Her blood  started to break down. Nine days after the abortion, July 20, Barbara died. She was the third abortion-related death reported in New York State in the 23 days that abortion had been legal in New York. The other women I've identified as dying from sickle cell crisis triggered by an abortion are Margaret Davis and Betty Hines.


The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York state an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to Barbara, these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:


1970
  • Pearl, July 12, 1970 Age: 42, St. Luke's Hospital
  • Carmen, July 19, 1970 Age: 31, Lincoln Hospital
  • "Linda", September 22, 1970 Age: 19, Unspecified New York City facility
  • Maria October 10, 1970 Age: 23, Dr. Armida Zepata
  • "Kimberly", December 23, 1970 Age: 25, Unspecified New York City facility
  • Seven additional New York City deaths about which I have no information* **

1971

  • "Amy", January 2, 1971 Age: 35, Unspecified facility
  • "Andrea", January 20, 1971 Age: 26, Unspecified facility
  • "Roseanne", February 27, 1971 Age: 37, Unspecified facility
  • "Sandra", April 18, 1971 Age: 18, Unspecified facility***
  • "Anita", May 12, 1971 Age: 23, Unspecified facility *** ****
  • Margaret, June 16, 1971 Age: 25, Dr. Jesse Ketchum
  • Edith, June 24, 1971 Age: 29, Dr. Robert Livingston 
  • "Audrey", July 1, 1971 Age: 44, Unspecified facility
  • "Vickie", August 17, 1971 Age: 23, Unspecified facility
  • "April", August 22, 1971 Age: 17, Unspecified facility
  • "Barbara", September 23, 1971 Age: 35, Unspecified facility
  • "Becky", October 5, 1971 Age: 18, Unspecified facility
  • "Tammy", October 13, 1971 Age: 33, Unspecified facility
  • Carole, October 20, 1971 Age: 37, Dr. Jesse Ketchum
  • "Beth", December 29, 1971 Age: 23, Unspecified facility

1972

  • "Wendy", 1972 Age: 23, Unspecified facility
  • "Colleen", March 8, 1972 Age: 21, Unspecified facility
  • "Connie", March 8, 1972 Age: 31, Unspecified facility
  • "Julie", April 16, 1972 Age: 14, Unspecified facility
  • "Robin", May 4, 1972 Age: 21, Unspecified facility
  • "Roxanne", May 13, 1972 Age: 17, Unspecified facility
  • Pamela, May 17, 1972 Age: 18, Monsey Medical Center
  • "Sara", June 18, 1972 Age: 22, Unspecified facility
  • Beverly, December 21, 1973 Age: 21, Unspecified physician in Monsey

*In the New York Daily News, November 24, 1970, New York City Health Services Administrator Gordon Chase indicated that there had been a total of 11 abortion related deaths in the city during the first four months of legalization, July through October, 1970. He indicated that only one of those abortions took place outside a hospital. In the February 7, 1971 Daily News, Chase notes a total of 12 abortion deaths in New York City for the first six months, seven of which involved outpatient abortions. This contradicts what he said earlier, when he indicated that only one of 11 deaths was outside of a hospital. In the June 30, 1971 Wellsville Daily Reporter, Chase reported a total of 15 abortion-related deaths in New York City as of February, 1971, eight of them from legal abortions and the remainder from illegal abortions.  However, he also said that there had been no abortion deaths in the four month period March - June. 


****According to the June 19, 1971 Press and Sun Bulletin, the Centers for Disease Control counted only 9 legal abortion deaths in the entire state of New York for the 11-month period of July 1, 1970 - May 31, 1971. They report seven illegal abortion deaths in the state during that period. This indicates that the CDC was severely underreporting abortion related deaths even before Roe vs. Wade