Sunday, January 29, 2006

Illegal abortion anniversaries disprove myths

Rose Lipner, age 32, mother of 2, died at Riverdale Hospital on January 29, 1936. Dr. Maxwell C. Katz, who lived at Riverdale (maternity) Hospital, which he operated, signed a death certificate indicating that Rose had been operated on for a tumor. After the funeral, an anonymous caller notified police that the death was suspicious, and Rose was exhumed for an autopsy. The medical examiner determined that Rose had died from an abortion. Katz was arraigned for second-degree manslaughter. You can read here about other similar cases in which attempts to cover up an illegal abortion death were foiled.

Nearly a century earlier, the body of 20-year-old Olive Ash was exhumed in an investigation into her untimely death. Dr. William Howard was prosecuted for her death. Her twin sister, Olivia, was an important witness. You can read the whole story here.

These stories underscore facts that proponents of legalized abortion don't want people to know:

1. Most illegal abortions were done by doctors with medical instruments, not by amateurs with coathangers.

2. When abortion was a crime, it wasn't that easy to cover up the woman's death. Officials were able to determine fairly reliably how many women died because so many people were keeping alert to suspicious deaths among women of childbearing age.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

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