Saturday, February 14, 2009

1942: Abortion proves fatal for newly wed heiress

On February 14, 1942, Florence Nimick Schnoor, age 24, died at St. Joseph's Hospital in New York of what the coroner called a "brutal and inept" illegal abortion. Florence, grand-niece of Andrew Carnegie and heiress to a Pittsburgh steel fortune, had eloped with Richard H. Schnoor, sergeant-at-arms of the New York State Assembly, nine days earlier.

Her husband reported that he had taken her to White Plains so she could catch a train to New York for a day's shopping. Later that morning, she called and asked him to pick her up at the station. He found her obviously ill and asking for a doctor. He took her straight to the hospital, where she died three hours later.

Doctors reported that Florence refused to discuss her case at all, much less implicate the abortionist, despite pleas from her husband. Investigators contacted all 200 people whose names were in Florence's address book, but were unable to gain any clues as to who performed the fatal abortion. All they were able to piece together is that Florence evidently paid $40 for the abortion.

Florence's husband was not implicated in her death; police belived that he had not even known Florence was pregnant.

I've found Florence's name in the 1930 US Census. She was 12 years old, living with her parents and 9-year-old sister in Connecticut. It's heartbreaking to think that there she was, as vital and alive as any little girl, being counted in the census along with everybody else in the country -- and nobody could have know that her life was halfway over.

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

To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

No comments: