Tuesday, May 04, 2010

1865: The back alley was populated with doctors

Another frightful incident has taken place in New York city, which stamps the prevalent immorality of the day darkly and blurringly upon the local records of the time. The tragedy to which we refer was enacted during the past week, in a small bed-room on the second floor of a tenament house, in the rear of Columbia street. The victim was Emma Wolfer, a German girl, aged eighteen years, of respectable parentage, whose death was the result of an abortion, alleged to have been produced by Dr. Charles Cobel, whose name has become a household word in the annals of New York for crimes of a similar nature.

The evening of Sunday, May 4, 1865, Mrs. Mary Cressin went to the Eleventh Precinct station hous and reported a suspicious death an hour earlier, in the neighboring apartment of Mrs. Harriet Ellars. The victim was a young girl.

Captain Ulman investigated. Emma Wolfer had been working as a child's nurse in Dr. Cobel's family home. For some reason she went to Ellers' on Sunday to arrange board, and Monday to move in. She was very sick, with Dr. Cobel coming two or three times a day to attend to her -- always alone in the room with her.

By Wednesday afternoon, her condition was deteriorating. Mrs. Ellars, alarmed, sent for Emma's family. Two brothers and a sister arrived. At first she told them she had a fever, but on Sunday evening she asked to speak with her sister alone. She said that she was dying, and said that she had been seduced by Dr. Hoffman, who had left her pregnant. Hoffman had given her powerful abortifacient drugs, and Dr. Cobel had shifted her to the Ellars home.

The abortion had caused peritonitis, which killed the girl.

Everyone involved was arrested. Cobel was charged with having performed the abortion, and Hoffman and Ellers as accessories before the fact.

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

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Lilliput said...


This is of interest

Christina Dunigan said...

Ah, the old "Don't worry your pretty little head" attitude again. "Women are STRONG enough to choose abortion -- but only if we make sure we protect them from the reality of what abortion is."

Sooner or later she's going to find out what it was that she had destroyed at her behest. And it's NOT the abortion clinic staff that are there when she finds out. It's the prolifers. We're the ones that have the weeping women sitting in front of us, sobbing, "I would NEVER have done it if only I had known!" By which point the ever-so-patronizing clinic staff are nowhere to be seen.

If abortion clinic staff saw that pain, would they care? I often wonder.

Kathy said...

We're the ones that have the weeping women sitting in front of us, sobbing, "I would NEVER have done it if only I had known!"
And if you point this out to pro-choicers, they say that you're demeaning women, their intelligence and their knowledge by assuming that they don't know... whatever it is that the "pro-choice" side is trying desperately for them not to find out. If the pro-choicers are correct by saying that women won't change their minds if they have an ultrasound (or anything else) prior to having an abortion done, then why are they fighting it so hard? They should be strongly encouraging informed consent whenever they come across it. But the fact that they're running scared of laws like this shows that they really don't want women to make an informed choice -- *only* to make the choice to abort.

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Christina Dunigan said...

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Lilliput said...

Christina and Kathy,

I think you're missing the point here. When women are weeping in front of you saying, "I would never have done it if I had known" they are saying I would never have done it if I would have known how I would feel afterwards - not that if they had known they killed their baby. I have no doubt that a women knows she is killing her baby when she is having an abortion. To say otherwise is demeaning to the intelligence of women. All women think they will feel free and relieved afterwards - some do, however some are hit with overwhelming feelings of bereavement and loss. They are unexpected - and in their pain they say that they would never have done it.

It is also interesting for me to note the Christian view of forcing bonding between mother and child. In anti abortion work they now want to force/ encourage the mother baby bond by making an ultrasound compulsary. Previous to abortion being legal (and I believe its also happening now), they took babies away from young unmarried mothers immediately so that they couldn't bond and have their babies taken so they can be given to suitably married Christian families. Its truely ironic....

And lastly - passing a law to make it illegal for a Doctore to tell the mother about her baby's abornormality - that is pure criminal - and takes us all the way back before there was such a thing as ultrasound. Its things like this that really scare me.

Christina Dunigan said...

Lil, you're wrong. The first crying post-abortion woman I ever got to deal with was my babysitter. She had asked about "the baby" before the abortion, and was told that there was no baby, just "something that looks like a blood clot". She fell apart when she got pregnant again and we were looking at prenatal books and she learned that her eight week fetus had a beating heart. For her, that was the difference between "removing tissue" and killing a baby.

We hear it again and again, women who report having asked about "the baby" and getting bland reassurances that what they're about to kill is most definitely NOT a baby. Just recently LIla Rose released a tape of a PP counselor assuring a patient that her 6-8 week embryo had "no head, no arms, no legs" etc.

Antitheist Angie, who tweeted her abortion, was believing her abortion counselor that her embryo was "just two layers of cells".

Yes, some women go in knowing full well it's a baby, and they're shocked at how awful they feel afterward. They're told again and again that all they'll feel is relief. They, too, were lied to.

Maybe the abortion staff and prochoice activists really think they're doing women a favor by keeping them as ignorant as possible. But they're not. And they are NOT the ones there to help pick up the pieces later. They comfort themselves with more lies (Oh, those women are SO in the minority. They were crazy to begin with. They're just being guilt-tripped by antichoicers.) But the lies don't do squat for the women we deal with. They need truth. They needed it all along. They get it far too late.

Lilliput said...


Yout babysitter was not upset that she had an abortion - her new pregnancy probably brought out the bereavement which is normal to feel over a loss. The more interesting thing is that now she is pregnant the second time she has the wherewithall to look at pregnancy books but with her first pregnancy she had to ask an abortion provider what about her baby. She was obviously not ready to become a mother yet and her life would have been completely different if she had the baby. With natural miscarriage rates being as high as 25-30% - even without the abortion she would have been crying on your shoulder. I also want to say that at 6 weeks the baby is 1cm - so I can see how som people may think its a clump of cells.

Saying all that however - does that mean that you are ok with abortion when its up to 4 weeks and it doesn't have a heartbeat? When does it go from being a clump of cells to being a baby?

Christina Dunigan said...

The heart starts beating at 21 days. And for my babysitter, the beating heart was what made the difference. She found out that she had not just had "something like a blood clot" removed, but a baby with arms and legs and fingers and toes and a brain and internal organs and a beating heart.

Why are you so ready to just dismiss her pain as hormones from the subsequent pregnancy?

Lilliput said...

I'm not dismissing her pain at all. I'm not at all saying its hormones at all. All I am saying is that she is going through a berievment. If she had wanted her baby so much or had very ambivalent feelings about abortion she would have done a bit of research jut like all the other expectant moms. It is very easy to project your feelings of anger at yourself on someone else. For the people at the abortion clinic it may be something that looks like a blood clot - its a cm big. My friend miscarried in the toilet and she told me it looked like a blood clot. The pictures you have are magnified a hundred times. We live in an age when noone wants to take responsability for their decisions.

Christina Dunigan said...

She ASKED THE FREAKING "EXPERTS" at the clinic! Weren't they supposed to answer her questions honestly?

She wanted the baby. She had been living at home, helping her mom run a child care center, and she thought if she was going to be caring for children all day, one of them might as well be hers. When her mom found out she was pregnant she came to Sherri and said, "I have $170. You're getting in the car with me. You can either keep the appointment I made for you at Planned Parenthood or I can take you to the bus station and you can buy a one-way ticket to wherever $170 will take you."

She was totally blindsided.


Why do you persist in blaming her and excusing the so-called professionals?

Lilliput said...

I'm not blaming her! There is no blame here. Its a tragedy - a human tragedy. I don't think anyone is to BLAME!

Why are you not screaming at her mother. What made this woman, a mother herself want to abort her own grandchild. That's what we need to look at - and its not an uncommon occurrance. I don't blame her either - I'm sure she had her reasons.

To a lot of people - experts included, a six week baby is a clump of cells. In fact here in the uk. Your first scan is three months. In jewish culture we don't tell anyone about the pregnancy untill after three months as the risk of miscarriage is so high.

You're barking up the wrong tree here.

Christina Dunigan said...

Yes, I blame the mother for being so cold, but I blame PP more because they LIED. Don't give me any bs about how "To a lot of people,experts included, a six week baby is a clump of cells. In fact here in the uk"

Prenatal development isn't dependent upon whether the mother is in the UK or the US or Botswana.

At six weeks:

"Head and Neck

Brain is well marked by its cerebral hemispheres. The hindbrain, which is responsible for heart regulation, breathing and muscle movements, begins to develop.

Future lower jaw, the first part of face to be established, is now visible while future upper jaw is present, but not demarcated.

Mesenchymal cells originating in the primitive streak, the neural crest and the prechordal plate, continue to form the skull and the face.

External retina pigment is visible and the lens pit has grown into a D shape. Nasal pits are still two separate plates, but they rotate to face ventrally as head widens.


Primary cardiac tube separates into aortic and pulmonary channels and the ventricular pouches deepen and enlarge, forming a common wall with their myocardial shells. ....

Abdomen and Pelvic Regions

The mesentery, which attaches the intestines to the rear abdominal wall, holds them in position and supplies them with blood, nerves and lymphatics, is now clearly defined. Ureter, the tube that will convey urine from the kidney to the bladder, continues to lengthen. Proliferation of the coelomic epithelium indicates the gonadal primordium.


Hand region of upper limb bud differentiates further to form a central carpal part and a digital plate. The thigh (rostrolateral part), leg (the caudomedial part) and foot areas can be distinguished in the lower limb buds."

This is NOT "a clump of cells".

And my babysitter, who was told her baby was "like a blood clot", was 8 weeks pregnant:

Head and Neck

Head is erect and rounded. External ear is completely developed. The eyes are closed, but the retina of the eye is fully pigmented. The eyelids begin to unite and are only half closed. Taste buds begin to form on the surface of the tongue. The primary teeth are at cap stage. Bones of the palate begin to fuse. Scalp plexus reaches head vertex.


Intestines begin to migrate from the umbilical cord into the body cavity.


Upper and lower limbs are well formed. Fingers get longer and toes no longer webbed and all digits are separate and distinct."

Do you really believe it's honest to describe that as "something like a blood clot"?

Lilliput said...


By you calling the mother "cold" is the same thing as the "Experts" saying its "a clump of cells or a blood clot" Both are correct - but there is so much more to say! At that small a size it can look like a blood clot and a mother like that can look cold - but obviously we dig deeper and we may find a heart in the baby as well as mother who is not so much cold but maybe herself pregnant young and wants to spare her daughter the same fate. I don't know? and you don't know either - so don't blame anyone!

If it makes you feel better to hold the abortion nurses responsable - then go ahead, but the truth is that we weren't there and we can't know what took place.