Thursday, June 14, 2007

Anniversary: Convicted abortionist takes own life

On June 14, 1948, Dr. Oswald Glassburg committed suicide in his jail cell, six hours after being convicted of performing the illegal abortion that killed 22-year-old Jane Ward. He ingested poison.

At 11 AM on October 17, 1947, Dr. Paul Singer, a gynecologist, had called police and reported that Jane, heir to the Drake's bakery fortune, had come to his office suffering from an incomplete abortion. He said that he had taken her to Park East Hospital, where Dr. Oswald Glasberg, a plastic surgeon, had helped him to complete the abortion.

Jane died on October 28, and the autopsy confirmed the cause of death as criminal abortion.

After the death, Singer and Glasberg were arrested and released on bail. The baby's father, Eduardo Schneidewind, a trade promotion executive for a South American government, was questioned as a material witness but was never indicted.

Dr. Alejandro Ovalle, an X-ray technician, was sentenced to one year after pleading guilty as an accessory, having profited from abortion referrals. Singer was convicted of manslaughter in Jane's death, and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. The judge, Francis L. Valente, said that Jane had been subjected to "surgical mayhem," and that Singer and Glassberg were "completely devoid of human feeling and decency."

Singer appealed his conviction, which was upheld.

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