Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today's anniversaries

Today we have three criminal abortion anniversaries -- two of which were revealed after authorities were alerted and ordered the women's bodies exhumed for autopsy. So much for the theory that nobody was paying attention because doctors weren't keeping medical records of the abortions they perpetrated.

  • On January 29, 1883, a widow named Adeline Savroch died on the scene from a criminal abortion. Midwife Bertha Twachaus was held without bail for murder in Adeline's death. A saloon keeper named Julius Grosse, and his housekeeper, Celia Arlep, were held as accessories. The most likely scenario is that the saloon keeper and the housekeeper arranged the abortion for Adeline, and perhaps helped Twachaus to try to cover up the real cause of death.

  • 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. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't an easy thing to hide abortion deaths back when complicity in the cover-up could land you in prison as an accessory. Rose's abortion was typical in that it was performed by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

  • On December 28, 1857, Olive Ash and her twin sister, Olivia, left their home and went by rail to the home of their cousin, Levi M. Aldrich, in Bradford, ostensibly to visit his widowed mother. During the visit, Olive seemed to her family to be in normal health. The sisters remained at Aldrich's home about two weeks, then said that they were going to meet some friends at the Fairlee depot for an excursion into New York or Massachusetts. Instead, when they arrived at Fairlee depot they took a wagon to the home and office of Dr. William Howard, about six miles north of the depot and three miles south of Bradford.

    On Friday, January 29, 1858, Olive's mother got a telegram telling her to come to Howard's home. She quickly complied, and was there when her daughter died at about 6 in the evening. Dr. Howard got a coffin for Olive, and the twins' mother took her daughter's body by train to Sutton.
    On February 3, Olive's body was exhumed for an autopsy, which revealed what Olivia had already known: Olive had died from complications of an abortion. Dr. Howard was convicted of murder in Olive's death.

    See Olive's memorial at Find a Grave.

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

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