Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anniversary: Erstwhile back-alley butcher kills patient

Twenty-five-year-old Margaret Louise Smith traveled from Michigan to New York for a safe and legal abortion because she had been exposed to rubella. Her abortionist, Jesse Ketchum, had run a criminal abortion practice in Michigan, before carpetbagging to Buffalo when New York legalized abortion on demand.

Ketchum performed a vaginal hysterotomy on Margaret at 10:30 the morning of June 16, 1971. Margaret was then left virtually unattended until her boyfriend retured at 2:00. He found Margaret unresponsive, and begged Ketchum and his staff to do something.

Paramedics were summoned, but they were unable to revive Margaret. She was taken to a hospital across the street from Ketchum's office, where she was pronouced dead on arrival.

Margaret's vagina had been sutured, but a laceration in her uterus and cervix had not been repaired. She had bled to death.

Ketchum was charged with criminally negligent homicide in Margaret's death. Before his case went to trial, he performed a similar abortion on Carole Schaner of Ohio. Carole suffered similar injuries had bled to death in her motel room after Ketchum discharged her.

Ketchum was convicted on October 26, 1973, despite the fact that renouned abortionist Milan Vuitch (who had challenged the District of Columbia abortion law) testified on his behalf.

Vuitch himself, like Ketchum, had kept his nose clean as a criminal abortionist, then gone on to kill two legal abortion patients. Wilma Harris and Georgianna English both died under Vuitch's care. Benjamin Munson, likewise, had a clean record in his criminal abortionist then went on to kill two women in his supposedly safer legal practice -- Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Lilliput said...


This looks like a good project. Any thoughts?

Lauren said...

Lilliput, I honestly don't know. I'm reading through everything right now.

My initial reaction is that I feel uncomfortable with the idea of paying someone to use birth control. It feels like the same type of coerrsion of paying someone for their eggs.

I also don't like the implication that some people are better off never being born.

On the other hand, I can definitely see the wisdom in giving women a reversable, long term birth control that does not require further responsibility on their part.

I do disagree with the original bill that was introduced that made this birth control mandatory, but I do see value in an optional program.

Kathy said...

I second PEP's sentiments and questions. At least it's voluntary, as opposed to the "Mississippi Appendectomy" I've recently heard about from the first half of the 1900s -- I've only read a little about it, but it was basically a racist/eugenicist thing that doctors would perform an "appendectomy" on black women which would actually be a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation. Then they wondered why they couldn't have kids. I'm not sure if it was only women of certain income levels that were being targeted or what. I've also heard of women (typically lower income and/or black) in the past (but it wouldn't surprise me to find it still going on today, just a little more hush-hush) that were coerced into agreeing to getting their tubes tied right after giving birth. The particular story I read was from the nurse -- women came out of the delivery room still woozy from the general anesthesia that was standard during those times, and the doctor or other attendant would say something like, "That sure was awful/painful. I bet you don't want to do that again, do you?" Of course she would mumble, "no"; and they would give her a form to sign that authorized a tubal.

This is better than that. It's also better than drug-addicted babies being born one right after another because the women can't, don't or won't get help. Of course, what would be best is for them to get treatment and help, but that is difficult even when the people really want to get clean, and even harder when they don't.

I'm concerned about some of the potential abortifacient qualities of some of these methods of birth control, but I'm willing to swallow the small chance that a baby would be conceived and not implanted or would be aborted in return for the huge benefit of not having many innocent babies being subjected to illicit drugs prenatally when they cannot possibly control it, especially when considering the rate of stillbirth and neonatal death of such babies, as well as the longtime health implications of being born addicted to drugs. All things considered, it is probably more pro-life to have these various methods of birth control available for addicts than not to have them available and have them conceive babies who will die due to prenatal drug use or have such long-term consequences as frequently happens in such cases.

Lilliput said...

Well, Id love to have something like this start here in the UK - but somehow I don't think it will happen.

Lilliput said...


I don't know if you guys heard about this story!

Lauren said...

Lilliput, I got an error when I tried to look at the link

Kathy said...

Here is the link; not sure why it didn't work.

I'd seen the story -- a fertility clinic accidentally transferred a couples' last embryo to the wrong woman, who then had an abortion when she found out the mistake. Sad.

Hmm -- although laws might be different in America & England, I wonder what is the possibility on either side of the Atlantic for the aggrieved couple to sue or somehow press charges against the woman for willful destruction of property since the embryo wasn't genetically hers? Now *that* would be a can of worms!

Lilliput said...

Yes but then the other side would counter sue that the damage caused to the surrogate ( a women that so badly wants her own baby) is just as bad.

Its a complete minefield and I would bet a lot of money that there are many ivf children mix ups that are not picked up.

army_wife said...

I heard about the IVF story and I think that is terrible. I understand that the woman must have been very upset to learn the child she was carrying was not genetically hers, but to be so cruel as to put the child to death for the crime of being in the wrong womb due to someone else's carelessness? The right thing to do would have been to discover the rightful parents (which had apparently been done already) and carry the child as a surrogate for them. Yes, it would have been hard for the surrogate, but what a gift to give to the child - life. It's like she felt that her child was the only one that deserved to live.