Friday, September 11, 2020

September 11: A Socialite and Other Tragedies

A Physician in Chicago, 1976

Diane Smith, age 23, was one of the women mentioned in the Chicago Sun-Times expose, "The Abortion Profiteers." According to the report, and her death certificate, Diane was admitted to Englewood Hospital in Chicago due to hemorrhaging. She told staff that she'd had a legal abortion in a Chicago-area clinic. Diane was treated for a perforated uterus and sepsis, to no avail. Diane died on September 11, 1976.


Choosing Danger, 1970

William Day, a 21-year-old microbiology student at the University of Massachusetts, was given a five-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to charges relating to the death of his girlfriend, 21-year-old community college student Nancy Kierzek. Day, who intended to become a doctor, perpetrated the abortion in his apartment using a catheter on September 10, 1970. Nancy bled heavily so Day rushed her in his car to Holyoke Hospital in Boston. Hospital staff notified the police, who arrested Day at around 7:30 that evening at the hospital. Nancy, who had been about three months into her pregnancy, died of blood poisoning on September 11, 1970, a few hours after her admission. Abortion had been legalized in New York, and hospitals in Boston were loosening their guidelines for "therapeutic" abortions, so why Nancy would submit to an illegal abortion when she was within driving distance of a legal abortion remains a mystery. (See newly added sources below.)

A Gynecologist in New York, 1962
B&W yearbook portrait of a young white woman with thick, wavy, shoulder-length hair
Barbara Covington

Gynecologist Mandel M. Friedman, age 53, was 
out on bail for the abortion death of Vivian Greczka aka Vivian Grant when he was charged with homicide in the September 11, 1962 death of Barbara Clarke Covington. Barbara, age 35, was a Florida socialite and Chi Omega Sorority sister. 

A 31-year-old Madison Avenue advertising executive, Franklin Charles Beck, was offered immunity. He gave a 10-page statement in which he admitted to securing the $1,000 abortion fee (over $8,500 in 2020 dollars) and driving Barbara to Friedman's office at 3:00 pm. on September 10 for a consultation. They returned the next day for the abortion. He told police, "I loved her. I wanted to marry her. I did not want her to go through with this thing." He waited for about an hour while Friedman operated, only to have the doctor come out and announce, "She's gone."

Beck said that he told Friedman that he was going to call the police, but Friedman said, "Don't. You'll get us both in trouble. You'll ruin us. Think it over." He told Beck to say that Barbara had gone into convulsions and died of a heart attack.  


Friedman contacted Abbey Funeral Home to arrange for the removal of Barbara's body. The undertaker requested the necessary permission from the Board of Health and was told to contact the medical examiner's office. The medical examiner reported the case to authorities, who immediately recognized Friedman's name due to Vivian Grant's death. Their suspicions aroused, they had Barbara's body taken to the morgue at Queens General Hospital for autopsy. She had suffocated when her larynx had swollen shut during anesthesia. Her brother, State Senator D. D. Covington Jr., claimed her body and took it home to Dade City, Florida, for burial.

Friedman was questioned by authorities and released on $10,000 bail shortly after midnight, pending completion of the autopsy. He was scheduled to surrender to the Queens District Attorney's Office. Instead he fled, leading to a 13-state manhunt that ended quickly. Friedman surrendered, accompanied by his attorney and refusing to give any statement other than his name, age, address, and occupation. His original bail bondsman dropped him as a client, leaving Friedman behind bars.

After legal wrangling, Friedman entered a plea bargain, getting a manslaughter charge dropped and being sentenced to only two to four years at Sing-Sing on abortion charges.

As an aside, Friedman had two charges on his record for indecent exposure in 1939 and 1940. (See below for newly added sources.)

Physician in Chicago, 1918

On the evening of September 11, 1918, 35-year-old homemaker Gertrude Mathieson Harrington died in Chicago's Wesley Hospital. She had been admitted by Dr. John J. Gill, who noted evidence of an abortion when treating her. Dr. Helen Dugdale, an obstetrician, was arrested. She went on trial in June of 1920 but I haven't been able to determine if this was for Gertrude's death or for the death of another woman.  Dugdale had been implicated the previous year in the abortion death of Marie Benzing.


NEWLY ADDED SOURCES

Nancy Kierzek:

  • "UMass Student Charged With Abortion," Berkshire (MA) Eagle, September 11, 1970
  • D. P. Kline, Creating Choice, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2006


Barbara Covington:

  • "13-State Alarm Is Out For MD in Abort Death," New York Daily News, September 13, 1962
  • "Frazzled Doc Surrenders In Divorcee Abort Death," New York Daily News, September 14, 1962
  • "Term in Abortions," Kansas City Times, December 12, 1963
Gertrude Harrington:
  • "Suspect Illegal Operation Caused Death of Woman," Chicago Tribune, September 12, 1918
  • "Sixteen More Face Trial as Slayers Today," Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1920








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