Friday, April 12, 2024

April 12, 1989: Lena's Baby Born

 "Lena" had an abortion performed February 28, 1989 by John Roe 57, at what she had been told was two weeks into her pregnancy, which is odd since at that time pregnancy tests could not detect a pregnancy that early -- when the embryo had only just implanted. When Lena returned for her follow-up visit, staff told her that the abortion had been successful. On April 12, Lena went to the hospital due to severe abdominal pain. Doctors told her that she was five months pregnant. She gave birth to a baby boy on July 10. Sadly, the child died two days later due to respiratory problems caused by the abortion attempt. (Ector County Texas District Court Case No. C-88-212)

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

April 9, 1935: Newlywed Joins Ranks of Dr. Brewer's Dead

Newspaper clipping of a bald, middle-aged white man wearing round black spectacles, in 3/4 profile and with a grim facial expression
Dr. Guy E. Brewer
On June 7, 1935, Dr. Guy E. Brewer pleaded guilty to six counts of manslaughter for the deaths of six women who died from complications of abortions he had perpetrated. He was sentenced to serve six consecutive four-year terms. He spent his incarceration working in the prison hospital. 

One of those young women was Wanda Lee Gray, age 20, who died April 9, 1935 at the home of her parents, Lewis and Effie May Wickline, in Enid, Oklahoma. She left behind her husband, Robert George Gray, two brothers, and two sisters. She was a 1933 graduate of Enid High School. She and Robert were newlyweds, having only married the 30th of the previous July. They had honeymooned in Chicago to visit the World's Fair, traveled in Michigan and Minnesota, then returned to set up house on a farm southwest of Kremlin, Oklahoma.

Wanda wasn't the first death attributed to Brewer's abortion activities. The first was of 21-year-old Myrtle Helen Roseof Ponca City, Oklahoma, who died on December 23, 1931. Ruby Ford,  a 26-year-old homemaker, died April 1, 1934 after an abortion perpetrated by Brewer. Hermoine Fowler, a 20-year-old coed, died June 27, 1934. 

Wanda had not even been buried yet when an abortion at Brewer's hands ended the life of Doris Jones, a 20-year-old mother of two, who died April 11, 1935. Elizabeth Shaw, 23, of Roxanna also died in 1935. I have yet to determine if Elizabeth died before or after Wanda.

Brewer had graduated from the University of Louisville in 1906 and had been practicing medicine in Garber for 21 of the 29 years he had been a physician. He supported young men during their university studies, maintaining houses for them to live in. Those he had educated over the years rushed immediately to his defense. Though Brewer had spent many long years helping boys and young men, his impact on women's lives was evidently lightning-fast.

Brewer pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter on each case, ostensibly to avoid putting those who cared about him through the embarrassment of a public trial on such distasteful charges. One particular statement by Brewer is very telling:

"I could not stand to have my boys brought into this case and I would not betray the trust so many people have placed in me by having them harassed, and in some instances their lives ruined by the notoriety a trial would bring to them."

This implies that a lot of those abortions were done at the behest of Brewer's "boys," who would themselves face serious charges for arranging the fatal abortions on women they had impregnated. 

Those "boys" offered support to Brewer from all corners of the globe, where they had work they attributed to Brewer's support in getting their educations.

The county attorney who arranged the plea, Holbird, didn't seem to think that Brewer had done much harm. "In accepting Dr. Brewer's plea of guilty in these abortion deaths I do so with the feeling that the law has collected its debt. The matter of the penalty assessed is unimportant. The thing that counts is that these crimes have been exposed to the world, and the people can now realize the serious danger and hazard to life in this kind of operation." 

Thus came Brewer's  six four-year sentences, to run concurrently, for all six abortion deaths. The likely reason that he got such a light sentence was his extreme popularity for his benevolence in putting local young men through college. So beloved was Brewer that one victim's husband was fired in retaliation for reporting his wife's death to the police.

Governor E. W. Marland, however, was not exactly delighted with the wrist-slap administered by local officials. "This is the worst case I ever heard of," the governor said, "He was, in my opinion, guilty of mortal turpitude of character almost as serious as that resulting in the death of these women." Noting that Brewer would be eligible for parole after serving only 28 months, the governor urged an investigation which he was certain would uncover more crimes so that additional charges could be brought so that Brewer would end up serving a sentence commensurate with the harm he had done. 

In the end, Brewer's supporters triumphed. The young men prospered, the young women lay dead in their graves.

Watch One of Six Victims on YouTube.


Sunday, April 07, 2024

April 7, 1896: A Cry in the Night

 On the evening of Monday, April 6, 1896, Tillie Karcher heard moaning in the flat of seamstress Millie Meyers, just upstairs of her at 415 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn. She listened again and heard a young female voice crying out, "Oh, let me go home to my mama!"

Alarmed, Mrs. Karchner sought out a policeman on his rounds, who went to the apartment and found a young woman there, ailing and alone. The girl gave her name as Mrs. Emily Scott and said that her husband, Ollie Scott, was a fireman on a Fulton ferry.

The policeman found prescription bottles in the room, so he copied the information from them and went to the pharmacy that had prepared them. The pharmacist said that the medicines were common ones used in treating fevers.

The policeman considered all these goings-on to be fishy, so he reported the situation to the precinct captain, who began an investigation to identify and round up everybody involved in the young woman's suspicious illness.

Around 5:30 on Tuesday afternoon, April 7, the young woman said that she was going to die soon, told the police that her real name was Emily Binney and gave them her address on Rutledge Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Emily's turn for the worse sent the police rushing for the coroner, leaving the ailing girl in the care of Minnie Meyer. The coroner arrived to find that Miss Meyer had abandoned Emily, leaving her to die alone in the intervening half hour.

Meyer was eventually apprehended and admitted that she'd helped 20-year-old Emily to seek out the abortion services of 33-year-old midwife Mary Schott and had herself been engaged to look after the patient.

A police officer went to the Fulton ferry house and managed to identify "Ollie Scott" as Arthur Robbins, who was arrested when he showed up at Meyer's flat to look for Emily at 10:00 that evening.

While the suspects were being questioned, Minnie said that Emily's baby had been born alive on March 21. Upon hearing that, Robbins burst into tears and told police that about four hours after the child's birth he had wrapped the baby in newspapers weighted down with a piece of iron and thrown it out a porthole in the ferry. He couldn't say if the baby had still been alive when it was tossed into the river.

Arthur Robbins then admitted that he had gone with Emily and Minnie to arrange for Mrs. Schott to perform an abortion.

Minnie Meyer was found guilty of manslaughter. I've been unable to determine the outcome of the case against the midwife.

Watch A Cry in the Night on YouTube.


April 7, 1940: Self-Induced in Wyoming

According to her death certificate, Inez Stella Smead Harpham, wife of George Harphan, lived in Rowlins, Carbon County, Wyoming and worked as a housekeeper. The daughter of Marion and Nancy Driscal Smead, she was born in Lyons, Colorado in 1906.

On April 4, 1940 she was admitted to Carbon County Memorial Hospital. She was treated there by Dr. Myron L. Crandall until her death shortly after midnight the morning of April 7.

Her death was attributed to self-induced abortion with infection. She had been about 6 weeks pregnant. 

Saturday, April 06, 2024

April 6, 1906: Malpractice Prompts Midwife's Suicide Attempt

 SUMMARY: On April 6, 1906, 22-year-old homemaker Bessie Braun died in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated by midwife Julia Gibson.

Michael Reese Hospital
The Wards at Michael Reese Hospital

Were there really wards full of women dying from botched septic abortions in the days before legalization? Dr. Julius Lackner of Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago reflected on what he saw there from 1900 to 1914. Five hundred women were treated at this charity hospital for septic abortions — both criminal abortions and miscarriages — during those fifteen years. Of those 500 women, there were only four deaths.

I have verified that two of them were indeed criminal abortion patients: Lizzie Orenstein and Bessie Braun.

Bessie's Death

Bessie, a 22-year-old homemaker, mother of two, and immigrant from Austria, died at Michael Reese on April 6, 1906. Both verbally and in writing, Bessie named midwife Julia Gibson as the person who had perpetrated the abortion, for a $5 fee, on March 20. It was hardly surprising that Bessie’s abortion had been perpetrated by somebody with medical training, since the majority of Chicago abortions in that era were done by either doctors or midwives, who ran thinly veiled advertisements in the newspapers.

Bessie’s husband, Abraham, testified at the inquest. He said that he had not known anything about an abortion until Bessie became seriously ill on Sunday, though she remained at home until Thursday, when she finally was hospitalized.

He also said that prior to her death, Bessie told him that she had written the guilty midwife’s name and address on a piece of paper which was in the bed at their home. Abraham found the paper and turned it over to authorities during the inquest.

Attempted Suicide

Gibson, who had been at Bessie’s bedside during the declaration, was being escorted out of the hospital by police when she asked to go to the women’s dressing room in the hospital basement. She was permitted to go in while a police officer stood guard outside the door.

The officer soon heard a shot, then forced the door and found Gibson lying on the floor suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. She was admitted to the hospital for treatment and was kept both under arrest and under suicide watch. As she lay near death, Gibson confessed her guilt. She later recovered.

Not Her First Dead Patient

Gibson had previously been indicted for the November, 1905 abortion death of 18-year-old Dorothy Spuhr, who had died at County Hospital.

Watch Midwife Attempts Suicide, Admits Guilt on YouTube.


Happy Birthday, Gianna Jessen!

Gianna Jessen

Friday, April 05, 2024

April 5, 2001: Haley's Post-Abortion Journey Ends Tragically

Dear Lord,

I sit here alone with my thoughts wondering if you will ever forgive me. Why do I continue to fail you? I'm failing you because I‘m turning away from the precious gift of having a child. A child. A breathing, living, beautiful life that I created but too selfish to accept from you. Will you still love me as a child of yours? Will I still love me after today?
Haley‘s journal - Oct. 23, 2000

On April 5, 2001, Donetta Robben‘s 22-year-old niece didn't show up for work. Her friend Rosa drove over to check on her, and her car wasn't there. Rosa called the girl‘s father, Edwin. Had she gone home to visit her family?

Edwin later said he just knew that his daughter was dead. He called the Omaha police, and he called his daughter's landlord. They went to the apartment. They found her body.

Though the coroner estimated that the young woman had been dead for several days, all official documents, and the young woman‘s tombstone, use the April 5th date. So will I.

In telling her niece's story, Donetta decided to use the name ‘Haley Mason‘ rather than her niece‘s real name. In respect for the family‘s desire to grieve privately, I‘m using the name Donetta uses. Likewise, I use the pseudonyms Donetta uses for friends and family members.

The official ruling was that Haley‘s death was an accidental overdose. Her family was stunned as the investigators spoke with them, revealing the discoveries made while looking into the young woman‘s death. Isolated words echoed in their minds: death, journals, death, pills, death, drinking, death, hurt, death, abortion...



The answers to how Haley went from happy-go-lucky college student to suicide statistic weren't in the official reports. They were found in Haley‘s journals, where she poured her heart out in the final months of her life.

The story of how Haley died begins when she fell in love with Todd. She found out she was pregnant and told him. He wanted her to get an abortion.

A two story building. The bottom story is brick, with dark brickwork depicting an old jalopy. A huge business sign points to stairs beside the building.
LeRoy Carhart's clinic in Belleview, Nebraska
Haley was a student at the University of Nebraska. She worked two jobs to meet her expenses. Unmarried, without much money, and with a disapproving boyfriend, Haley saw abortion as her only option. She made her appointment at the Bellevue, Nebraska practice of  Dr. Leroy Carhart. It was late October of 2000.

Haley wrote of Todd‘s attitude: "I must let him abandon me. He doesn't care about me. I know he‘s only agreed to pay for it to ease his own guilt."

Haley found the abortion stressful: the wait, the sounds, the crude and uncaring behavior of the doctor. Haley had been told to arrive at the clinic at 7:00 in the morning, but it was ten hours before she was finally on the table, ready for the abortion. Carhart walked into the room, clad in a dirty coat and glasses so smeared that Haley‘s friend, who had accompanied her, wondered how he could even see through the lenses.

Candid outdoor shot of an overweight middle-aged man with his hair going white in the front. He is wearing a suit and tie.Haley, in her fog of medication, tried to make a joke. "Don‘t hurt me down there?" she said. 

"Be still and I won‘t," Carhart replied.

While performing the vacuum abortion, Carhart spouted profanities. He told Haley and her friend that he was tired. He‘d been speaking in California the day before, and had just flown into Omaha that morning.

After the abortion, Haley felt violated, as if she‘d been raped. She also experienced continued spotting into January. She'd not been given a follow-up appointment, and didn't know if the bleeding was normal or not. She didn't want to go to another doctor, because she‘d have to tell him about the abortion, and that was just too painful to talk about. The bleeding was a constant reminder of the death of her unborn baby.

Haley told few people about the abortion: three close friends and two relatives. But she didn't tell them of her struggle to cope with the emotional pain. She kept telling herself that she‘d done the best thing. But she started punishing herself, and pushed away anybody who tried to love her. She didn't feel that she deserved their love.

Haley longed for a knight in shining armor to rescue her from the prison of her grief, but she no longer felt comfortable with men. She had to get drunk to be able to endure sex. And even then, it reminded her of the abortion. Todd came by at early hours, looking for sex. Haley submitted, but her heart wasn't in it. She no longer felt loved. She felt used.

The drinking got worse. Hot baths and quick jogs provided temporary relief from the anguish, but it always returned.

Finally, Haley could stand it no more.

First, she drank plenty of numbing alcohol. Then, she went into her living room and grabbed a precious photo of her late mother and maternal grandfather. Next, a bottle of vodka. A bottle of aspirin. An old prescription bottle of Benadryl. Haley washed the drugs down with the vodka, leaving the three bottles next to the photograph.

She went into the bedroom. She put her rosary around her neck. She set an empty holy water bottle on her dresser. She opened her journal to the day of the abortion. She lay down, head on her pillow, looking for the  rest she couldn't find any more in living, leaving her family to sort out their own pain. 

Other post-abortion suicides include:
  • Carol Cunningham, age 21, who shut herself in her garage, ran her car, and died from the exhaust fumes in August of 1986
  • Arlin della Cruz, age 19, who hanged herself in the woods near her house in October of 1992
  • Laura Grunas, age 30, who shot her baby’s father and then herself in August of 2006
  • Sandra Roe,” age 18, who killed herself using an unidentified means in April of 1971
  • Sandra Kaiser, age 15, who threw herself off an overpass into traffic in November of 1984
  • Stacy Zallie, age 20, who committed suicide in October of 2002

Thursday, April 04, 2024

April 4, 1985: First of Two Deaths at Hands of Gambling Addicted Doctor

Mary Bradley, an Alabama resident, was 41 and a mother of four when she underwent a 20-week abortion at the hands of Dr. George Wayne Patterson in March of 1985.

Soon after, Mary was losing blood. She was admitted to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile and her bleeding was described as “abnormal” and “uncontrollable”. Doctors performed a hysterectomy on March 28, 1985 in an attempt to save Mary, but she had developed a blood clotting disorder and respiratory problems as a result of the abortion. She died on April 4, 1985.

Like a disproportionate number of women who die in safe and legal abortions, Mary was black.

Less than a year after he killed Mary and her baby, Patterson perpetrated a fatal abortion on Janyth Caldwell.

George Wayne Patterson

Patterson was shot to death in 1993 near his car outside of an X-rated movie theater. At first, abortion-rights groups treated Patterson's death as martyrdom for one who provided "vital reproductive health care." They never mentioned the two dead women. Police confirmed later that the killer, Winston McCoy, was a violent felon who was on parole after serving time for a violent home robbery and sexual assault. Patterson's killing had been a botched robbery attempt. News coverage revealed that Patterson was a rather unsavory character who had accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debts to illegal bookies. His name gradually vanished from the Rolls of the Holy Martyrs among the prochoice.

Watch Deadly Doc Dies Deplorably on YouTube.


  • Alabama Certificate of Death # 85-10613
  • Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences Autopsy Report # 27(A)-85-31536
  • Circuit Court for Monroe County, Alabama Case, CV-85-54

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

April 3, 1935: The Second of Dr. Justin Mitchell's Known Deaths

A youngish white man with a high forehead and dark hair, facing the camera, with a pale colored jacket and dark necktie
Dr. Justin Mitchell
On February 12, 1936, Dr. Justin Mitchell, age 57, of Chicago was convicted of manslaughter in the April 3, 1935 abortion death of 32-year-old Mary Nowalowski.  Eleven days before his conviction, another of Mitchell's patients, Alice Haggin, died from abortion complications. Two years earlier, Mitchell had been implicated in the abortion death of Mary Schwartz.

According to death records, Mary was an assembler at a Western Electric factory.

The prime witness in Mary's case was milk wagon driver Stephen Zakes. He and Mary were planning a wedding for the upcoming May.  On March 27, Stephen brought Mary to the Chicago office of Dr. Victor J. Neale. He then met with the couple together, telling them that Mary was between two and two and a half months pregnant. Mary began to cry and ask Neale, "What will I do?"

Stephen testified that Neale had referred them to Dr. Justin Mitchell; Neale insisted that he had simply told them they could go to some busy corner and find an abortionist.

Stephen and Mary went to Mitchell's office on the evening of Friday, March 29. Mitchell examined Mary and confirmed that she was pregnant. She was at least eight weeks along, Mitchell said, and if she returned the following morning at 8:00 he would perform an abortion. The fee would be $50. He assured them that there was no danger for Mary to undergo the procedure.

Stephen Zakes went to Mitchell's office at around 11:00 the morning of Saturday, March 30 to see how Mary was doing after the abortion. "She will be all right, she is in a little pain right now." Stephen went to see Mary himself and found her to be in excruciating pain, unable to even sit up. Mitchell insisted to him, "They are all weak after an operation of that kind."

Stephen escorted Mary home. She was weak and chilly. They stopped at a drug store for coffee and toast, then walked to a cab stand where Mary became violently ill. After Stephen took Mary home, she immediately took to her bed. Dr. Neale was summoned to examine her. Neale provided morphine for Mary's pain before leaving. Stephen remained with her until about 1:00 in the morning on Sunday, March 31.

Somebody brought Dr. G. M. Redman to Mary's home between 4:00 and 5:00 that morning. He found Mary in such grave shape that he immediately took her to his car and drove her to the hospital.

Mary was given medicine to contract her uterus but she continued to bleed so Redman contacted the coroner's office then performed a curretage of Mary's uterus. Her cervix had already been damaged, showing tearing and pus. During the curretage, Redman retrieved the head of Mary's fetus along with retained portions of the placenta.

Redman's care notwithstanding, Mary died on Wednesday, April 3. A postmortem examination concluded that Mary's uterus had developed gangrene due to the abortion, and that she had died of hemorrhage and septic shock.

Watch Abortion Doctor's Second Dead Patient on YouTube.