Thursday, May 26, 2011

1915: A bizarre situation in Chicago

Dr. Eva Shaver was involved in one of the most spectacular bizarre abortion cases of the century.
Anna JohnsonA young Chicago woman, Anna Johnson, was found dead with a bullet hole in her head on May 26, 1915, in Shaver's home.

Shaver told police that she had hired Johnson as a maid, and that the girl had committed suicide. But investigators concluded that Anna had died after Shaver had botched an abortion on her. They tore up the floorboards in the house, searching for the remains of aborted babies.

Anna's "sweetheart", Marshall Hostetler, told the coroner that he had known Anna for a year, since they'd met at a dance hall. They'd planned to marry. When she discovered that she was pregnant, Hostetler had purchased abortifactient pills for her from Shaver's son, Clarence. The fetus survived this chemical assault, so Hostetler arranged for Shaver to perform a surgical abortion.

Hostetler reportedly "sobbed" and "collapsed" at the inquest into Anna's death. New coverage painted him has having been misled by Dr. Shaver and her son, though he had gone into hiding upon the girl's death at one point been a suspect.

Shaver was tried for Johnson's death and the abortion death of another patient, Lillie Giovenco, in 1914.

Interestingly enough, Anna Johnson's death sparked a crackdown on midwife-abortionists rather than physician-abortionists, even though the corner's records showed both professions to be responsible for a roughly equal number of deaths in Chicago during that era. Part of this, Leslie Reagan believed, was due to the public perception that female practitioners were all midwives, and part was due to the political clout that physicians had but midwives lacked.

Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good.

In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America.

For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.
external image MaternalMortality.gif
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

1950: Abortion death

On May 26, 1950, Annis Whitlow Brown performed an abortion on Joy M. Joy, the unmarried mother of a six-year-old daughter. Brown botched the job, causing hemorrhage and failing to properly treat the patient. Joy died quickly from blood loss.
I have not determined what Brown's profession was.
external image Illegals.png
During the 1950s, we see an anomaly: Though maternal mortality had been falling during the first half of the 20th Century, and abortion mortality in particular had been plummeting, the downward trend slowed, then reversed itself briefly. I have yet to figure out why. For more, see Abortion Deaths in the 1950's.
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ron "I lied through my teeth" Fitzsimmons masterminded attacks on CPCs

So I lied: whatever happened to the abortion lobbyist who repented? - Ron Fitzgerald [sic], head of National Coalition of Abortion Providers, and the partial birth abortion issue - Interview

Some of you might remember back when the story broke about the pro-life infiltrator who got hold of Martin Haskell's presentation paper -- teaching his fellow National Abortion Federation members how to do brain-sucking late abortions. The abortion lobby insisted, often and loudly, that these abortions were very seldom done, and then only on moribund babies or deathly ill mothers.

Ron Fitzsimmons, of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, broke ranks, admitting that in in passing along these claims, "I lied through my teeth."
This quote not only brought Fitzsimmons more than his fifteen minutes of fame, it has tarred the credibility of pro-choice advocates. His comment implied that all of them had been deliberately dishonest about the frequency and reasons that procedures like intact dilation and extraction -- the medical terminology for what pro-lifers call "partial-birth abortions" -- are performed.
No. His comment did not imply anything. It confirmed that all these abortion advocates had been deliberately lying.

But this article isn't about that famous confession. It's about who, exactly, Ron Fitzsimmons is, and about his drive to close down his industry's competitors -- pro-life pregnancy centers.
Fitzsimmons is the first to admit that he's a lobbyist -- and a good one. He proudly recalls being named one of the top fifty hired guns in D.C. by Washingtonian magazine in 1992. Previously he lobbied for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), and was working for a private firm, when a handful of independent providers approached him in 1990 to represent them.
Remember that. Fitzsimmons's job is to protect the interests of abortionists by lobbying.
And he's produced some stellar results. For example, he organized a hearing on phony abortion clinics that were advertising in the Yellow Pages, and found a teenage girl to testify that she'd been lured into such a place and terrorized with gory films. He arranged for her to tell Congress her story on a slow news day.
And the abortion lobby has been on this bandwagon ever since.

Fitzsimmons says he made his confession in order to bring about "honest debate" about the brain-sucking abortions. Well, Ron, how about an honest debate about pregnancy centers versus your clients? How about the fact that your supporters injure and kill women, and you're evidently okay with that, but you get indignant that, at worst, pro-life pregnancy centers annoy women?

You'd rather see a woman killed by an abortionist than annoyed by a pro-lifer. Let's have an honest debate about that, shall we?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And Another Old Lichtenberg Death

On March 25, 2000, Maria Rodriguez went to Steve Lichtenberg's Albany Medical Surgical Center for a late second trimester abortion. Lichtenberg estimated her pregnancy at 18 weeks and went ahead with the what a later expert consultant called "a seemingly uncomplicated (albeit short) procedure.

At about 9:00 a.m., Maria was showing signs of shock from hemorrhage. The expert consultant pointed out that Lichtenberg had failed to notice that he had ruptured Maria's uterus. Her hematocrit (a measure of red blood cells) was 32% after surgery, but it had fallen to 25%. (About 38% is normal for a woman.) Lichtenburg flushed out her uterus with a dilute solution of Vasopressin, a hormone used sometimes to control bleeding. He also had pressure applied to her uterus. But, the consultant noted,"At no time were further attempts made to ascertain the cause of the bleeding or to explain the discrepancy between the marked decrease of hematocrit and the seemingly moderate blood loss."

Lichtenberg diagnosed DIC, a clotting disorder caused by triggers such as amniotic fluid in the blood stream. He started treating Maria with Fresh Frozen Plasma (FPP) at 9:34. She was given a total of 14 units of FPP, but her hematocrit continued to fall, and she was showing abnormal EKG readings. Her heart was racing and she was continuing to bleed. She wasn't given a transfusion, or transported quickly to a hospital so that a transfusion could be administered there. Lichtenberg also didn't administer any additional medications to help control Maria's bleeding.

At around 10:15 a.m., Maria appeared to have been somewhat stabilized, but "no attempt was made to determine the cause of the bleeding with ultrasound evaluation" or to tie off the bleeding artery. By 10:30, her hematocrit had fallen to 15%, meaning she had less than half the red blood cells needed to carry oxygen to her brain. This was a sign that her condition was rapidly deteriorating. Finally, an hour and a half after Maria suffered her life-threatening injury, and an hour after Lichtenberg had diagnosed the dangerous clotting disorder, it occurred to somebody to call 911 and have Maria taken to a properly equipped hospital.

By the time she arrived there, her hematocrit was 3.5%, less than 10% of what it should have been. Doctors at the hospital tried to save her, to no avail, she died that evening.

Maria left behind a four-year-old daughter.

N.B. At a National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar in the 1990s, Michael Burnhill of the Alan Guttmacher Institute scolded Lichtenberg for "playing Russian roulette" with patients' lives by performing risky abortions in an outpatient setting and treating serious complications on site in his procedure room rather than transporting them to a hospital. Evidently Lichtenberg chose not to listen to Burnhill's warning.

A Decade-old Death that I Just Learned About Today

On June 9, 1999, Maria Leho was in the first trimester of pregnancy, when she entrusted herself to the staff at Albany Medical Surgical Center of Chicago -- a member of the Family Planning Associates Medical Group chain of abortion facilities. She was to undergo an abortion at the hands of John Weitzner, MD.

Weitzner performed a suction abortion on Maria, while Lawrence Hill, CRNA, administered Brevitol for anesthesia. This drug is inappropriate for a patient who had seizure disorder, as Maria had indicated on her medical history. Maria was under anesthesia for a total of four minutes, from 12:40 to 12:44 p.m. Hill then transferred Maria to the recovery room without first verifying that her condition was stable. When she was transferred, the pulse oximeter, which monitors pulse and blood oxygen levels, was removed.

Once in the recovery room, the still-sedated and unconscious Maria was attended Tanya Hall, RN, while Hill went to administer anesthesia to another patient. Hall put a blood pressure cuff on Maria's arm, and another pulse oximeter on her finger, but this one hadn't been tested. She then left the recovery room. Maria was now in the care of Yvette Johnson, RN. A nurse reviewing Maria's records noted that the nurses did not perform a proper assessment of Maria when she was turned over to their care. They did not take a pulse or check to see if she was even breathing.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson noticed that Maria wasn't breathing and had no pulse. She, Hill, and Hall attempted to resuscitate her with CPR, and ambu-bag, and a defibrillator. Nobody summoned Weitzner, who was performing an abortion on another patient. He came into the recovery room at about 12:50. Staff continued to try to revive Maria for another ten minutes before they finally got around to calling 911, rather than summoning EMS as soon as they realized that their patient was in a life-threatening emergency.

Maria was taken to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's hospital, where she died on June 11. She left behind two sons, a 7-year-old and a toddler.

Albany, through FPA, is a member of the National Abortion Federation. They had already had one patient, Deanna Bell, die from anesthesia complications. Then-owner Edward Campbell Allred admitted that he failed to perform any preventability study to keep any other patients from suffering Deanna's fate.

Another baby survives ectopic pregnancy

Fox News in Phoenix has this story of a woman who was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy (one outside the uterus) at 20 weeks. She rejected surgery at that point because her baby couldn't have survived. He was born, healthy but premature, at 32 weeks.

At this time the doctors and Fox News are reporting the case as unique. For the specific site of implantation, perhaps so. But little Azelan Cruz Perfecto isn't the only baby to survive an ectopic pregnancy.

  • Live abdominal pregnancy presenting as massive rectal bleeding: "A case of massive rectal bleeding resulting from the placental attachment of an abdominal pregnancy to the sigmoid colon is reported. Both mother and infant survived this rare complication which should be considered when abdominal colic and major gastrointestinal haemorrhage occur in a pregnant patient."

  • Abdominal pregnancies, Primary Surgery: Volume One: Non-trauma, Chapter 8. The surgery of pregnancy: Covers a case of survival, with recommendations for management.

  • Massive hemorrhage in a previously undiagnosed abdominal pregnancy presenting for elective Cesarean delivery: Not sure if this is a new case or not.

  • Abdominal pregnancies in Sweden resulting in live infants 1970-81: The site is just a cite for an article in Swedish, leaving me to wonder how many infants were born alive after abdominal gestation just in Sweden in those 11 years.

  • Full-term viable abdominal pregnancy: a case report and review: A full-term abdominal pregnancy culminating in the birth of a live healthy baby by laparotomy is described.

  • Add this little fellow to the list. Valdir Gabriel was born in Brazil three months after his mother was diagnosed with an abdominal pregnancy, the type of ectopic pregnancy most likely to result in a live birth.

  • Rare baby survives outside womb: Montreal doctor, CBC News Tuesday, August 12, 2003: Dionne Grant, a Jamaican tourist, was in Montreal when she had to go to Sacré-Coeur Hospital for an emergency c-section, performed by Dr. Robert Sabbah, head of obstetrics and gynecology. He said, "When I opened the cavity I quickly discovered that the uterus was not like it was supposed to be. As soon as I explored the abdominal cavity I noticed there were feet in the cavity just floating around. So as fast as I could I took out the baby." The placenta had attached to the top of Dionne's uterus, this providing a good blood supply to the baby.

  • Here is an old medical journal article, ADVANCED EXTRAUTERINE PREGNANCY, Bulletin of the Hong Kong Medical Association, vol. 22, 1970. Case 1 was a 32-year-old mother of one, in 1956. "The extrauterine pregnancy was not diagnosed until 38th week when foetal movements could clearly be seen transmitted through the thin abdominal wall." She had no other symptoms that anything was amiss with her pregnancy. An X-ray showed that the baby was oddly situated, with an abnormally curved spine. She was immediately admitted to the hospital, where a 3,430 gram baby girl was delivered. The omentum (apron of fat covering the intestines) was covering the pregnancy, which seemed to have arisen in the right fallopian tube. There were only minor adhesions within the mother's abdomen. The mother recovered well, and had a successful normal pregnancy the following year. The baby was perfectly healthy.

    Case 2 was a 41-year-old mother of two, who had slight bleeding at 16 weeks, and intermittent pain for four months. She was admitted to the hospital at 27 weeks. Her pain subsided after a week of hospitalization. The fetus could be easily felt through the woman's abdominal wall, as could the empty uterus. The patient refused immediate surgery, hoping to perserve her child's life. She remained hospitalized. At 32 weeks she experienced sudden, acute abdominal pain. She was delivered of a 2,010 gram infant. The placenta had attached to the back wall of her pelvic cavity and the right broad ligament. The sac, placenta, and right fallopian tube and ovary were removed, with minimal blood loss. the mother recovered well. The baby had some facial asymmetry due to the unusual pressures placed on her from being gestated outside the womb.

    Case 3
    was a 33-year-old mother of four, admitted to the hospital at 36 1/2 weeks because of recurring abdominal pain. The fetus was in breach presentation, but attempts to turn the baby by maniuplating it through the abdominal wall were unsuccessful. An X-ray revealed that the baby was lying transversely. The doctors decided to perform a c-section, whereupon they learned that the baby was actually behind the mother's uterus.The baby weighed 2,920 grams. The placenta had attached to the back of the mother's reproductive organs, which were removed. The mother recovered well and the baby was healthy.

    Case 4 wasa 43-year-old mother of 8 who had been having abdominal pain since 12 weeks, and was admitted to the hospital at 26 weeks. Her uterus was displaced by the fetus, which was in her abdomen. Two days after she was admitted, she experienced sudden acute abdominal pain, so doctors performed surgery to remove the baby, a girl weighing 1,040 grams. Blood loss was minimal. The mother recovered well, and the baby had no problems other than prematurity. Sadly, she developed a respiratory infection and died at age 34 days.

  • And finally, in Australia, Durga Thangarajah was born at term after she had implanted in her mother's ovary -- a situation that doctors say is unheard-of. Or was until now.

    1912: "Abortion Provider's" Fatal Work

    On May 24, 1912, 24-year-old Margaret Duyer died at Englewood Union Hospital in Chicago, the day after an abortion perpetrated by Paulina Lindenson. Lindenson's profession is listed only as "abortion provider" so it is likely that she was a lay abortionist.

    She was held by the Coroner on May 24, and indicted by a Grand Jury on July 19, but the case never went to trial.

    Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.
    external image Illegals.png

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

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Three anniversaries

    On May 10, 1929, 24-year-old Elizabeth Palumbo submitted to an abortion, evidently perpetrated by Dr. Amante (or Amenti) Rongetti. She was taken to West End Hospital afterward, and she died there on May 23. Rongetti was held by the coroner on June 12. On June 20, he was acquitted. I was amazed to see Rongetti tied up in this case, because only the previous year he had been sentenced to die in the electric chair for the abortion death of Loretta Enders. Rongetti's attorney clearly had been successful in his bid for a new trial. And Rongetti was freed to kill again. So much for the theory that criminalization necessarily locked quacks away. We need to find and close the loopholes so that butchers like Rongettti stay locked away.

    Life Dynamics lists 29-year-old Rhonda Ruggiero on their "Blackmun Wallsafe and legal abortions. According to the information LDI put together, Rhonda underwent an abortion in May of 1982. She suddenly died of an abortion-related pulmonary embolism on May 23. An embolism is a flukey thing that can kill regardless of the doctor's skill, so Rhonda probably would have died regardless of whether abortion was legal or not.

    Documents indicate that Josefina Garcia, age 37, mother of 2, died after abortion at a Family Planning Associates Medical Group (FPA) facility. Josefina's survivors filed suit against FPA owner Edward Campbell Allred, and 5 other doctors: Kenneth Wright, Leslie S. Orleans, Earl Baxter, Soon Sohn, and Thomas Grubbs. The family said that staff failed to determine that Josefina had an ectopic pregnancy before proceeding with a routine safe and legal abortion procedure by D&C on May 23, 1985. After her abortion, Josefina was left unattended in a recovery room, where she hemorrhaged. She died the day of her abortion. Regardless of whether or not abortion is legal, an ectopic pregnancy is something any abortionist should have diagnosed, if not before the abortion, then certainly after the abortion was completed and there were not pieces of fetus removed. Either way, there was little excuse for failing to detect the ectopic pregnancy. Whether Josefina lived or died would have depended on the state of medicine at the time, and the ordinary skills of doctors who were not abortionists.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    2000: Another Death for Family Planning Associates

    The Fresno Bee reported that Family Planning Associates Medical Group (FPA) and abortionist Kenneth Wright were being sued by the family of a woman who died after Wright performed a safe and legal abortion on her. To the best of my knowledge, this makes at least 12 dead abortion patients for FPA.*

    The family of the woman, Kimberly K. Neil, alleged that FPA staff failed to properly monitor Kimberly, and failed to treat her properly when she stopped breathing during the abortion. Kimberly died May 22, 2000.

    *Other FPA deaths that I know of:

    Family Planning Associates Medical Group is still thriving, advertising outpatient abortions up to 22 weeks in their Los Angeles facilities:
    California abortion clinics Family Planning Associates Medical Group, California's leading abortion provider since 1985
    They're still National Abortion Federation members. And FPA's founder, Edward Allred, admitted during a deposition that never once, for all of the patients who died on his watch, did he do any sort of preventability study to keep such a tragedy from happening again.

    What can we learn? Well, first of all, that NAF's promises of safety ring pretty hollow when one of their flagship chains of clinics shrugs off patient deaths. And that if the cream of the crop can't be trusted, how trustworthy can an abortionist be when he doesn't even care enough to go through the motions of at least joining NAF?

    The Father of the Attacks on CPCs

    Who is it that masterminded the whole "Attack the pregnancy centers" approach to protecting abortionists' rights?

    Ron "I lied through my teeth" Fitzsimmons.

    I'll elaborate later. It's past my bedtime.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Bozell Column: ABC's Partial-Birth Hero:

    On the May 12 episode of ABC’s "Private Practice," Dr. Addison Montgomery (played by actress Kate Walsh, a real-life Planned Parenthood activist) spewed the strongest pro-abortion – "pro-choice" – rhetoric as she performed a partial-birth abortion on a woman who thought she’d already had an abortion two months before.

    Of course, aside from seeing how many pro-abortion "talking points" they could fit into an episode, they didn't even do the most rudimentary research:

    1. The show takes place in Los Angeles. There are at least four places in the city -- not even going into outlying areas -- where she could go for a routine, no-questions-asked 19-week abortion. Her baby could be pulled out in chunks and tossed in a bucket like so much chicken at KFC without any whining about lack of "access". (FPA has two LA locations.)

    California abortion clinics Family Planning Associates Medical Group, California's leading abortion provider since 1985

    Abortion clinic Eve Surgical Center, West Los Angeles specialists in high risk and fetal anomalies, abortion services up to 24 weeks.

    Los Angeles abortion clinic UCLA Center for Reproductive Services - Abortion Services

    ‎2. At 19 weeks they still do a standard D&E. You can read LeRoy Carhart's description of how he does it here. Just reach in and keep twisting off parts. At some point after you start twisting limbs off, the fetal heart stops.

    3. In California, abortion was legal in 1972. It had been legal since 1970. By 1972, FPA had already killed their first patient (Denise Holmes), and San Vicente scored their second death patient (Natalie Myers) in October of '72.

    A death only noted in passing

    Little is known about Sharon Margrove, but on May 21, 1970, she died following a safe and legal abortion in Los Angeles County, California. She was 25 years old.
    Though I'll point out -- and some people were unaware of this -- that even though this was before Roe vs Wade, Sharon's abortion was of the safe-n-legal variety. New York and California had both legalized abortion on demand in 1970, though New York allowed any doctor to practice abortion anywhere (so you ended up with situations like Jesse Ketchum running an abortion practice in a motel suite in Buffalo), whereas California required abortions to be performed in hospitals (so you ended up with a crop of nasty abortion hospitals springing up like mushrooms).

    That second point -- about California abortions being done in hospitals between state legalization and Roe striking down the inpatient requirement -- is important. Abortion defenders love to point to California and say that hospital admissions for abortion complications dropped dramatically after legalization in 1970. Well, DUH! The women were already in the hospital! They didn't have to be admitted to be treated, because they were already there.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Can you spot Roe?

    If you were presented with a graph of maternal mortality in the United States, could you spot the point where abortion was legalized nationwide? The first graph shows overall maternal mortality -- including deaths from miscarriages and induced abortions. Click below and see:
    click mapNoClose EnoughAfter Roe
    This second graph shows deaths just from induced abortions, both legal and illegal. Each section of the map -- before, at, and after Roe, takes you to a page with a bit more information. Feedback is most welcome before I start slapping this into posts and pages.
    click mapBefore RoeClose EnoughAfter Roe

    Three Criminal Anniversaries

    On May 20, 1870, Matilda Henningsen died in Brooklyn. An investigation led to a man whose qualifications as a physician were sketchy, but whose identity as an abortionist was clear.

    Dr. Claude C. Long tried to use the Tiller Defense after Genevieve Arganbright died under his dubious care on May 20, 1937. The jury didn't buy it, instead giving credence to the prosecution's contention that had Genevieve really been sick enough to need an abortion, she'd have been far too sick to just do one on the spot in an outpatient facility.

    Surgical nurse Gertrude Pitkanen had taken over her husband's abortion business when he died, with fatal results for Hilja Johnson, who died on May 20, 1939. Pitkanen was also charged with the abortion deaths of Violet Morse in 1929 and Margie Fraser in 1936. A woman who was a student nurse at St. James Hospital in Butte remembered Pitkanen's victims. "They died horrible deaths from infection," she told a reporter from the Montana Standard.

    Points to consider:

    *Did abortion's legal status truly leave abortion-minded women with no choice but the stereotypical "back alley butcher"?

    *Abortion advocacy organizations now are agitating for midwives, nurses, and physician assistants to be permitted to legally perform abortions. Is this significantly different from what Gertrude Pitkanen was doing?

    *Were the people arrested for these deaths victims of persecution because of bad laws? Or were the people who set them free to continue to ply their trade guilty of failing to protect women?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Gigan's Findings, 1920 - 1921

    I'm still making my way through giang's page. I missed a metric buttload of abortion deaths on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database. Thanx, gigan!

    1920: Lydia Swanson, Sophie Krawczyk, Christine Hetland, Rose Lieberman, Catherine Casper, Mrs. V. Romano, Adelaide Fowler, Christina Anderson, and Alice Jolly.

    Francis Karies had undergone her fatal abortion in Akron, at the hands of Dr. C. W. Milliken. Although the coroner recommended prosecution, it looks like nobody took any action, since Milliken was free to kill Iva Triplet in Akron the next year.

    1921: Emma Shanahan, Dorothy Freedland, Katherine Falesch, Edna Rohner, Annie Sczepkowski, Marie Pickles, and Belle Keehn.

    One of our busy bees resurfaces in 1921. Violet McCormick's death was pegged on an abortionist identified only as Achtenberg. In 1907, Dora Swan had died in a Chicago hospital after an abortion by Louise Achtenberg. "Louisa Achtenberg," identified as a midwife, had been implicated in the 1909 abortion death of Florence Wright. Later, in 1924, it was Dr. Louise Achtenberg who was held responsible for the death of Madelyn Anderson.It would seem that the same woman, Louise Achtenberg, was responsible for all four deaths. She was identified as a midwife in 1909 -- a term commonly used to describe obstetricians, particularly if they were female.

    Gigan's Finds, 1919

    I'm still slogging through a page gigan had created for her research. It turns out that somehow I missed a lot of abortions on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database during the years from 1910-1919. I have no idea how I managed to miss so many, but I'm glad gigan filled in the gaps.

    1919: Wanda Skrzypzak, Edna Griffith, Thea Newman, Jeanette Ruff, Mary Kizior, Susie Airey, Gertrude Schaefer,

    A little Googling led me to learn that the woman identified as Lena Benich was Lena Benes. The abortionist's originally successful appeal hinged on whether it was the abortion attempt or the subsequent infection that caused the death of Lena's unborn baby.

    I can understand how, in plowing through death after death after death, gigan could blame abortion's legal status for the carnage. After all, there are far fewer deaths per year from abortion now, when it's legal, than there were then, when it was illegal. But there is a difference between correlation and causality -- just because two things happen at the same time doesn't mean one caused the other.

    For example, if you have a high fever, and are very congested, it would be wrong to conclude that the fever is causing the congestion, or that the congestion is causing the fever. Both would have their real cause in whatever virus or bacterium was making you ill.

    Many things changed between the years tabulated in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database and the post-Roe world of legal abortion. Antibiotics were developed and became widespread and were refined and improved. Blood typing and transfusions were developed. Our understanding of what causes, and how to treat, hypovolemic shock has progressed considerably. Doctors have become more aware of the need to keep things clean and sanitary, and to sterilize instruments. Better nutrition has made women healthier in the first place. Improved sanitation reduced the overall filth that caused many infections.

    To single out legalization, and to ignore the real factors, is to mistake coincidence for cause. And if you look at maternal mortality throughout the 20th Century, you can see that there wasn't any change in the trend at all with legalization of abortion:

    Clearly something other than legalization was saving women's lives. And if you don't have that in mind, it's easy to believe what abortion supporters say -- that it was legalization, not all the many improvements in health, hygiene, nutrition, and medicine -- that had such a dramatic impact on maternal mortality.

    Gigan's Findings 1918

    I'm continuing to make my way through a page gigan had created for her research. It turns out that somehow I missed a lot of abortions on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database during the years from 1910-1919. I'm slogging along. Thanks, gigan, for the heads-up on these. Like I've said before, please drop in.

    1918: Margaret Balch, Mary Cusack, Catherine Lurandowski, Sophie Suida, Alma Heidenway, Mabel Johnston, and Gertrude Herrington.

    I found that Dr. Anna Sorenson had been a very busy woman during late 1917 and early 1918. She managed to kill Emelia Gorman on August 10, 1917, and Mrs. M. Linstrom on November 12, before turning her deadly hand to Margaret Crowe on January 2, 1918. Her fatal spree was put to an end with her arrest on January 15, and her subsequent death in prison while awaiting her trials.

    There's something weird in the notes about Carmile Ghant. Two doctors were arrested in her death, but there is some odd mention of the defendants being "Outside labor force (incl. criminals" and the business owner of a bar or saloon. It is therefore unclear if one or both of these doctors also owned a bar, or if the bar owner was somehow an accomplice in Carmile's death.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Deaths Gigan Found That I Missed, 1917

    I'm continuing to make my way through a page gigan had created for her research. It turns out that somehow I missed a lot of abortions on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database during the years from 1910-1919. I'm slogging along. Thanks, gigan, for the heads-up on these. Like I've said before, please drop in.

    1917: Tillie Vrzal, Marie Benzing, Edna Lamb, Bertha Dumbrow, Mannie Schofield, Celia Steele, Antonia Gennaro, Emma Melvin, Julia Suchora, Frances Reenaarot, Anna Lindquist, Mrs. Valdislaw Zapanc, Lizzie Heimos, Genevieve Popjoy, Annie DeGroote, Stella Ahern, Helen Devora, and Victoria Chimelewsky.

    Mary Conners refused to name her killer before she died. I'm always a bit bewildered by women who, to the death, prefer to protect their killers rather than protect other women that the abortionists might harm.

    Esther Stark's killer never went to trial because she died herself several days after her victim did. The Database doesn't say how she died.

    Helen Skoza died from an abortion perpetrated by Elizabeth Schade, who went on to kill Fern Strecker in 1926.

    Both Emelia Gorman and Mrs. M. Linstrom both died from abortions performed by Anna Sorenson, who died before either case went to trial.

    I've been struck as I go through the Database at how large a number of homicides of women in Chicago in this time period were from abortions. (The other striking causes of deaths among females are murder by spouse, being gassed to death when their mothers tried to commit suicide, and being strangled as a newborn and tossed into the trash. Later, when I have time, I'll explore this further.)

    And again and again with cases never going to trial. I wonder how many criminal abortion deaths happened because woman-killing quacks weren't locked up. Why not? We need to resolve that before Roe goes so that we can have laws in place that make sure these butchers aren't allowed to prey on women.

    More Deaths Gigan Found that I Missed (1915-16)

    I'm continuing to make my way through a page gigan had created for her research. It turns out that somehow I missed a lot of abortions on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database during the years from 1910-1919. I'm slogging along. Thanks, gigan, for the heads-up on these. Like I've said before, please drop in.

    1915: Beulah Rehm, Margaret Jenickes, Mary Pichman, Ema Jonas, Frances Kulczyk, Hazel Carr, Hazel Wilcox, Elinor Cassidy, Mary Balcznska, Mamie Arkins, and Anna Hunt.

    1916: Eva Krakonowicz, Augusta Bloom, Carolina Petritz, Anna Krause, Lucile Bersworth, Mina Malletti, Emily Projahn, Elizabeth Winter, Mrs. M. Marazak, Pauline Hill, and Eleanor Dillon.

    I also stumbled across the death of Carrie Pearson while following up on the deaths gigan found. A particularly interesting case is the 1916 death of Helen Long, whose abortionist was also her physician husband.

    As I go over these deaths, I'm getting sick of typing the words, "The case never went to trial." Folks, criminalization is not enough if we don't plug the loopholes that allowed criminal abortionists to continue to ply their trade even after killing their patients.

    More Deaths Gigan Found that I Missed (1913-14)

    I'm continuing to make my way through a page gigan had created for her research. It turns out that somehow I missed a lot of abortions on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database during the years from 1910-1919. I'm slogging along. Thanks, gigan, for the heads-up on these. Like I've said before, please drop in.

    1913: I've missed Lizzie Orenstein, Margaret Wagner, Elizabeth Spalding, Mary Brubaker, Freda Englehardt, Mary Goldstein, Catherine Sartelopoulos, Anna Turnovan, Emma Witte, Anna Adler, Frances Odochowski, Mary Tureck, Catherine Seabrooke, and Hulda Tubbin.

    1914: Helen Kicke, Martha Kowasek, Stella Augustinyn, Hannah Olson, Elizabeth O'Donnell, Irene Ridgeway, Mary Stefen, Hazel Johnson, Ester Reid, Bridget Murphy, Genevive Tatar, Ida Kaufman, and Mrs. E. Fertig.

    Going over all these cases, I was struck by a new and serious flaw about the claims of whole wards of dying abortion victims at Cook County Hospital in the years prior to legalization: There simply were not enough investigations of abortion deaths at hospitals in all of Chicago, much less at the one hospital, to support the claim, even if you go back early in the 20th Century when, due to the state of health and medicine, abortion deaths were far more common than they would have been in the 1960s.

    In fact, the entire Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database indicates only at most three abortion deaths at Cook County Hospital were investigated every year for the entire period (1870-1930) covered by the Database. Most years there were no deaths, or one death. Though of course the Database or its search spider may have missed some, surely they did not miss scores of cases annually, which would have to be the case if as many women were dying at Cook County Hospital as abortion proponents claim.

    Another Researcher Part 3 -- Deaths I'd Missed

    Following up to my first post on this discovery, I started going through another page gigan had created for her research.

    As I cross-checked gigan's work against my main Cemetery of Choice page, I found that I had totally missed a young woman named Mary Rahur. As far as I can tell from the scant information provided in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database, Mary died at the hands of a lay abortionist, a woman named Frida Trappe.

    Since Mary was the only woman I'd missed from that page, I moved on to the actual page 2 -- the first of gigan's pages that I'd found.

    I had somehow totally missed Elizabeth Martin. Her killer was identified as a midwife, which might mean that she was an obstetrician, since at that time obstetricians, especially if they were female, were often referred to as midwives.

    I also missed Lillie Hirst. Her abortionist was a doctor, and a female accomplice was also indicted, but the case never went to trial.

    Another woman I missed was Catherine Kammin, who died at the hands of an unidentified midwife.

    Mary Bambrick died in 1911 at the hands of midwife Emma Schultz, who went on to kill Martha Kohnke in 1927.

    Mary Thorning died in 1911 after an abortion done by Paulina Bechtel, who had killed Ida Henry and Barbara Shelgren in 1900.

    I missed Anna Murphy, who died at the hands of a midwife. The case never went to trial.

    I also missed Regina Beck, Ella Kettler, Lottie Roeder, Minnie Miller, Jeanette Mebzarek, Helen Imhoff, Mary Bologh, Mary Abrams, Elizabeth Jorgeson, Ruth Fox, Margaret Duyer, Fannie Scheiner, Ida Kloie, -- through the end of 1912. I'm going to take a break because I missed a lot after 1912 as well.

    Another Researcher Part 2

    Moving right along, following up to my first post on this discovery, I headed over to another page gigan had created for her research.

    As I cross-checked gigan's work against my main Cemetery of Choice page, I found that May Putnam was missing. (I'd written her up but she'd dropped off the main page for some reason.)

    Gigan was just doing quick summaries, so she missed some important information. One of the people arrested, identified as "Dr. Sucy alias Louise Hagenow", was clearly the victim of poor handwriting. She was Lucy, aka Louise, Hagenow, infamous Chicago abortionist responsible for, as far as I can tell, about ten women's deaths. I suspect that there were more, since Hagenow had her own preferred undertaker to cart away the bodies (as evidenced by testimony in the Annie Horvatich death).

    I'd be very interested in gigan's take on Hagenow. Was she a poor persecuted physician just trying to help her patients, who was just losing a few because, as abortion proponents like to say when dismissing legal abortion deaths, "All surgery has risks"? Was she a quack her patients were "forced" to rely upon because criminalization had scared all the good doctors away? I'm sure an interesting discussion could ensue if gigan and I sat down and looked at Dr. Hagenow's handiwork.

    Another researcher! More information! (Part 1)

    As I was typing up today's post, I remembered that one of the guilty parties, Dr. Lou Davis, had killed somebody else. I took the lazy way of finding out who and just Googled Davis. This led me to the one other person on the internet who seems to be as interested in delving through old abortion death records as I am, "gigan", who dove into the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database and also gleaned out all the abortion deaths.

    In the interests of grammar, I'll assume gigan is a woman until told otherwise. As I go through her posts in order, I'm going to be correcting some of her errors and misunderstandings, but overall I'm just glad to have found a bit of a kindred spirit, somebody on the other side of the fence who really does her homework and uncovered a few deaths I had missed. And she seems to have the same thrill of discovery. Thanks, gigan! If you find this, give me a hollar!

    Moving right along:

    Gigan started this page with a"Close but no cigar" moment:
    the most historically important case listed is that
    involving dr. amante rongetti. reporters covering the
    trial in chicago contended that rongetti was the first
    doctor in the united states ever sentenced to die over
    a patient's abortion death.
    I'm not sure Rongetti was the first to be sentenced to death; I'd really have to research it further. But he was the first person to be sentenced to Illinois' new electric chair. But he wasn't executed; he was freed to kill again. I'm curious about whether gigan thinks releasing Rongetti was a good thing or not, and whether the fact that he killed another woman has any impact on her opinion about that.

    Moving on to the next paragraph, gigan makes another bit of a boo-boo:
    November 16, 1927
    Enders, Baby (Enders, Loretta - Dec. 11) - Deaths due to a criminal abortion by instrumentation, performed about 11/16/27, at the Ashland Blvd. Hospital by Dr. Amante Rongetti.
    Gigan seems to be confused here. Baby Enders was not Loretta's nickname. Baby Enders was Loretta's baby, who Rongetti was also charged with killing since the child had been born alive then tossed into the incinerator. Killing liveborn infants is evidently a bit of a tradition with abortionists; so much for the claim that the targets of abortion aren't babies.

    Here is my write-up on Loretta's death,

    She then brings up something I'd not known about and will investigate further:

    People v. Rongetti (1946), 395 Ill. 580,70 N.E.2d 568, rehearing denied (1947) the defendant was convicted of practicing medicine without a license. One of the issues raised was whether or not he had a right to practice medicine by virtue of a pardon granted by the Governor, restoring his rights of citizenship, which had been forfeited by a prior conviction of manslaughter. The supreme court made a determination as to the effect of the pardon on his later conviction and declined to accord it the effect claimed by the defendant.
    In the interests of breaking this down into manageable chunks, I'll move on in another post. Keep following!

    Two Chicago deaths a year apart

    Today's anniversaries both come from the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database. (I found so many abortion deaths there that my Cemetery of Choice looks like a voter registration list.)

    On April 2, 1924, 26-year-old Miss Mary Whitney underwent an abortion at the Chicago office of Dr. Lou E. Davis. On May 18, Mary died at St. Mary's Hospital of complications of that abortion. Dr. Davis was held by the coroner on May 19, but evidently wasn't held long enough because she performed a fatal abortion on Anna Borndal four years later.

    Mary's abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

    On May 18, 1925, Della Davis, a 25-year-old Black woman, died in Chicago from an illegal abortion performed that day. The person responsible for her death was never caught.

    Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

    external image Illegals.png

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

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Two anniversaries: legal and illegal

    "Danielle" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a legal abortion. Danielle, age 18, had traveled from Massachusetts to New York for a safe and legal abortion. On May 17, 1972, the abortion was performed. Minutes after the abortion was completed, Danielle was dead. She'd developed arterial and veous air emboli.

    On May 17, 1904, Miss Margaret McCarthy died in Chicago's Mary Thompson Hospital from an illegal abortion performed some days earlier at an unknown location. Mrs. Gertrude Plenz was arrested on May 21 for the death, and Benjamin Frederick, a boiler inspector, arrested for complicity. Both Plenz and Frederick were held by Coroner's Jury.

    Plenz is listed as an unskilled laborer in this arrest, but when she was arrested for the abortion death of Sarah Cushing, her profession was given as midwife, and the fatal abortion was listed as having been performed at a hospital.

    Margaret's abortion was unusual in that it was performed by a midwife, rather than by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.
    Note, please, that with general public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, seeAbortion Deaths 1900-1909.

    external image Illegals.png

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

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Want to protect children? Promote marriage and discourage cohabitation

    Suffer the Little Children: Cohabitation and the Abuse of America’s Children
    In just one month last year, Tyari Smith Sr. of suburban New Orleans shot and killed his 2-year-old son, Tyari Smith Jr., and his girlfriend, Marie Chavez, because she was considering leaving him and heading back home to California. A week later, 4-month-old Aiden Caro was thrown into a couch by his mother’s boyfriend, Samuel Harris, when Harris could not get him to stop crying. Shortly thereafter, the Louisville baby stopped crying forever. The next week, in Gaston, South Carolina, 5-month-old Joshua Dial was shaken by his mother’s boyfriend “in a manner so violent that the baby immediately lost consciousness and suffered severe brain trauma,” according to local police reports. Joshua died soon thereafter.

    Are these tragic cases of fatal child abuse around the nation in one month just random expressions of the dark side of the human condition? Not according to a recent federal study of child abuse and neglect, the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect.

    This new federal study indicates that these cases are simply the tip of the abuse iceberg in American life. According to the report ... one of the most dangerous places for a child in America to find himself in is a home that includes an unrelated male boyfriend—especially when that boyfriend is left to care for a child by himself.

    But children living with their own father and mother do not fare much better if their parents are only cohabiting. The federal study of child abuse found that children living with their cohabiting parents are more than four times more likely to be sexually, physically, or emotionally abused than their peers living in a home headed by their married parents. And they are three times more likely to be physically, emotionally, or educationally neglected than children living with their married biological parents. ....

    This latest study confirms what a mounting body of social science has been telling us for some time now. .... For instance, a 2005 study of fatal child abuse in Missouri found that children living with their mother’s boyfriends were more than 45 times more likely to be killed than were children living with their married mother and father.


    One reason that children do not tend to thrive in cohabiting households, besides the abuse factor, is that these homes are much more unstable than are married households. One recent University of Michigan study found that children born to cohabiting parents were 119 percent more likely to see their parents break up than children born to married parents. ....

    In the case of mom moving in with boyfriend I think it's largely a causal relationship -- mom choosing to live with an abuser, whether she recognizes him as an abuser or not.

    The higher abuse rate among children of unmarried cohabitators versus married couples is probably caused by the same character flaws that make the people unwilling to marry in the first place -- an unwillingness to fully commit to another person's well being regardless of how you're feeling at the moment.

    I've blogged about these tragedies before:

    July 2010 -- Woman lets guy she'd been living with for six weeks babysit.

    November 2009 -- Man who had already killed one of his kids murders mother and child.

    (HT: Secular Heretic)

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Jill's question: Have you ever been on the other side of the fence?

    Jill Stanek asks the question, and you can read all of the responses
    on her blog. As for me, my story is here. I'll just share some of the responses:

    lauren says: I was pro-choice. Basically, I thought that “women have to have a choice” even though I personally would not have had an abortion. ....What changed my mind was the way “pro-choice” people acted when I found out I was pregnant. Without exception, they pushed abortion. Planned Parenthood, who I thought helped women with “reproductive healthcare” would provide nothing but an abortion. They “referred” me to a doctor who wasn’t even taking new patients.

    I had a terrible pregnancy, which required many ultrasounds. There was no question that there was a human being inside of me, not a “clump of cells.” Then my water broke just shy of 23 weeks and I was given the option to do nothing and let my son die. I couldn’t even imagine anyone NOT fighting for the life of her child. Of course, we chose to seek medical intervention, and I was able to stay pregnant for another 7 weeks!

    Right before my son was born I was given the opportunity to tour the NICU so that I’d have an idea of what to expect. During the tour, the showed me a little girl who had been born at 25 weeks. She was in her blanket covered incubator and just looked so tiny, and so perfect. I remember thinking, dear God, people can go down to the planned parenthood down the street (it aborted up to 26 weeks) and kill a baby that looks just like this one.

    Mary Lee says: I was pro “choice.” I thought it was my body, my business, and that if it was an early termination, it was virtually without consequence. I sincerely thought pro-lifers were just being judgmental, nosy, and controlling.

    Then I got pregnant. I realized what pregnancy is, what an unborn baby is. I was a senior in college, and getting ready to go to grad school. I knew having a baby would change my plans, but I simply could not go through with an abortion. I did my research; I asked questions. This was my baby, no doubt, not a blob of cells, not “tissue”….it was my baby. .... I had a miscarriage.

    Then, I became pregnant “accidentally” six years later. Watching her on the ultrasound, her heart beating and flickering like a light at only 8 weeks, my heart was changed forever. These are babies, beautiful little lives. They should be loved and protected. They are not part of a woman’s body…they are separate people, with their own bodies. I did more research, for ten years….biology, psychology, sociology. And there is NOTHING true or good about abortion. It is based on lies and obfuscation. I am sorry I was duped. There is nothing good or life-affirming about abortion. My love for my babies changed me.

    Kay says:Lauren, I was like you….I believed that I would never personally go through an abortion but thought that it was vital that other women should have that “choice”. In fact, I screamed at a radio show one time when they were interviewing Randall Terry. My typical response was “Oh yeah? So are YOU going to raise all these ‘unwanted’ children?” By the way, I had young kids at the time.

    Somewhere along the way though (and don’t remember exactly when), I changed over and I can only assume what really got me was that I saw a picture of the aborted baby. I don’t remember anyone challenging me in discussion on my views. ....

    The more research I did, the more I realized how many lies it took to prop up Planned Parenthood, the legislation the whole industry and how much a lie all that “choice” slogan truly was. ....

    Then I began my road back to the catholic faith. I started helping out at my local catholic youth group I was once a part of. We did a whole night on pro-life issues. I had to to research on what the abortion procedure was actually like. I was turned on to Live Action and I saw all of the other shady things that were going on at Planned Parenthood. I realized the money that was made on the lost lives of unborn children. .... I know women who suffer 20-30 years later with their decision. Its not as simple. They dont skip out of the clinic like nothing happened. I realized the culture of death in our society. How we treat infants that were born alive after abortion procedures. How in some places they dont see it neccessary to treat pre-mature infants (below a certain number of weeks) because of the cost outweighing the benefits (they will most likely die… ect). Making abortion legal allows for a lot of ugliness. ....

    TheChristianHippie says: I was pro-”choice” in middle school/high school.Someone asked me if I was pro-choice and I asked what that was and they said, “It means you believe the government can’t force you to have a baby if you don’t want to.” I immediately imagined that there was some bill in congress trying to make a law that government officials could come into your home, detain you, IVF you against your will, and force you to have a baby ‘for the state’! “Oh heck yeah I’m pro-choice!” I responded. And argued against that imaginary scenario for years after.

    .... Years later in high school I finally heard the word abortion. “What’s that?” I ask. “It means terminating a pregnancy.” I knew from elementary school and middle school health classes and seeing/knowing pregnant mothers (including some classmates) what pregnancy was, and I was always interested in child-development. I could study for hours every detail of every life stage in our development. It boggled my mind, “How do you ‘terminate’ a pregnancy once it’s already started?” They stumbled and stuttered and finally gave up, they simply couldn’t admit it involved the death of the baby, and I had to research it to find out.

    I WAS HORRIFIED! ABORTION WAS KILLING A PRE-BORN BABY! I saw D&E’s, read the medical terminologies, saw the results of D&E’s and D&X’s, and finally asked in shock, “Is this the ‘choice’ I’ve been defending??? Is this really what happens? Are people really doing this to their children???” They refused to discuss it. They truly thought the violent death of these tiny people was irrelevant to the cause! I knew then what I had been defending. All this time. ‘choice’ meant ‘access to abortion’ and insuring that women could commit murder at whim. I searched government websites and there were no bills trying to be passed that would force pregnancy on women. Women were still getting pregnant the NATURAL way, through sex, either unprotected or using failing “birth-control”. No one was strapping them to tables in government facilities and IVFing them as they screamed and kicked. I had been deceived by the pro-death’s carefully crafted rhetoric. I was Pro-LIFE from then on. ....

    Cecilia says: I was pro-choice as a teenager. I was taught all the propaganda: it’s not a baby, it’s only a blob of tissue, so many desperate women die because they can’t get legal abortions, it’s so cruel to force women to have babies they don’t want, etc. etc. etc. This swayed me.

    But as I got older, and learned more, my ideas about abortion slowly changed. .... Slowly over the years, I learned more about fetuses. .... The more they seemed like little miniture people, the harder it became to justify killing them, not even to solve the problems of their mothers. Not that I don’t care about the mothers, I do. It just seems that there’s got to be a better way to solve their problems than by killing their babies.

    Also, I met some pro-life people in person and quickly noticed they didn’t fit the stereotype that pro-abortion people tried to portray them as. Instead of being monsters whose only goal was to control and punish women, many of them were caring people. In talking to them, I clearly saw the soundness of their arguments.

    Nowdays the pro-aborts and feminists tell their people to never talk to pro-lifers. They say that anyone that against women’s rights isn’t worth talking to. But I think the thing they really fear is that women will see these people aren’t the monsters the pro-aborts try to portray them as, and that they will actually hear the soundness of the pro-life argument. They’re afraid they’ll lose people (like they lost me). In a democratic society, too much of that and Roe v Wade eventually goes bye-bye.

    I also learned that the numbers of women who supposedly died from illegal abortion in the pre-Roe days was greatly exagerated. ... Then it dawned on me; I’d never known anyone who’d died that way, nor had I heard anyone tell me that they’d known anyone who died that way. .... There were no newspaper accounts of such deaths in my community, no girls who suddenly stopped coming to my school amid talk of her abortion death, and no memorial services for girls or women who died from illegal abortion in all the years I was growing up. If all these massive numbers of women all across the country had died this way, how come I never learned the name of one of them, or the names of anybody their life touched? That’s when I realized that those death figures really were exagerated.
    I am now extremely pro-life.

    Here's a conversion in the opposite direction. Sort of.

    Elsa says: ....For me, what made me change my mind was A) realizing what making abortion illegal actually means for women I know and love, B) talking to women whose abortions were necessary, and C) being pregnant.

    For me, the “what about the unborn?” issue was reconciled when I was pregnant. I’m not going to be able to explain that in a satisfactory way to you, especially not online, but maybe someday you will have a conversation with someone like me. Maybe you’ll realize that I’m not evil or, as Sydney insists, “gleefully tearing babies limb from limb.” Maybe I can explain to you then how being pregnant showed me the amazing coexisting truths of “this is something that is, and yet is not. This is something liminal.”

    I embrace the liminality of the experience of being pregnant. But like I’ve said multiple times now, that’s not what this conversation is about.

    Later she explains further:

    As I said before, I believe in liminality. I believe we can be in more than one place at once. I believe we can be both alive and not alive, good and not good, alone and not alone. A good example of this paradox is the Trinity, which allows us to believe that Christ is both God and man at once.
    Do I believe that abortion kills a living human being? Yes.
    Do I believe that is the same thing as murdering someone? No.
    You can call it irrational; I call it making sense of the human experience.

    (From an online dictionary: lim·i·nal·i·ty–noun Anthropology .the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct, dress, etc.)

    CT says: Elsa said: I do not believe that early abortions (which make up the vast percentage of abortions that are performed in the United States) kill a baby. If I believed that, I would be pro-life.
    I used to be pro-choice. I am now pro-life b/c of that exact statement. I was always sort of unthinkingly pro-choice. I didn’t have a lot of contact with pro-life people and assumed that the stereotype was true – religious zealots who wanted to force women to bear children against their will. People who favored this nebulous “potential life” over a “fully actualized” human being. No one “normal” or “educated” was actually pro-life.

    I went to a Catholic college and the presence of so many pro-lifers initially made me double down on my pro-choice beliefs. Here I was face to face with these ignorant people, and by God I was going to give them a piece of my mind. (I was the one who passed by the little cemetary displays and wanted to stomp all over the stupid imaginary graves). As I spoke with these people, though, I found two things. 1. They were certainly not ignorant. 2. All of my arguments were absolutely useless if the fetus was a human life. They were really distractions b/c if I had any intellectual honesty whatsoever, I had to acknowledge the internal logic of the pro-life position. If the fetus is a life, then any argument for abortion (poverty, circumstance, etc) that would not apply to an infant or toddler was completely irrelevant.

    I assumed that I just hadn’t heard the right argument (having never thought about it much at all) so I went in search of “the winning logic.” I was all over blogs on both sides, becoming increasingly frustrated. Finally I just came back with, “well I don’t think it is a life/a baby so ….so there.” But I wasn’t comfortable in that spot. Was it a baby the second before it was born….surely then. Well what about a week? What about two? I played around w/ all sorts of lines – viability (but that changes), hearbeat, brain waves. Ultimately I couldn’t get passed the idea that they were arbitrary. Then I tried out the “Well it’s probably wrong, but maybe occasionally necessary” camp.

    I just couldn’t live under such easily collapsible principles – ones that honestly left all human life in jeopardy. The fetus isn’t a life b/c it’s a fetus, but don’t worry all other human life is safe. We would never eliminate the old, the infirm, or the otherwise inconvenient so long as the human is question is at least 9 mo past conception and breathes air. It doesn’t work. So I became secretly pro-life. Took me a long time to come out of the closet. Lost a bunch of friends who just couldn’t fathom this – and I understand why. I would have done the same thing if I had never been exposed to pro-life people.
    And here I am now – whole heartedly pro-life.

    Jill Stanek says: As for me, I wasn’t always pro-life. Abortion was legalized in 1973, and I drove a friend for an abortion at a PP in Chicago in 1974, when we were both high school seniors. ....All I can say is I didn’t think about or understand abortion then. ....

    By the time I went to work at Christ Hospital I had returned to my faith and knew I didn’t want to participate in abortion, that was certain. Beyond that, I’m not sure how committed I was. Holding a dying aborted baby boy for 45 minutes instantly converted me into a pro-life activist.

    Amy1 says: I am 52 years old. In 1971 and ’72, when abortion was being debated in D.C., I wrote letters to my congressional delegation begging them to defend the unborn. My mom kept a copy of a Catholic newsletter that had our delegation’s written responses to such letters on the back cover. I still have that and it has helped define my legacy. ....

    In my teens and early 20′s I rebelled against everything and participated in a loose and destructive lifestyle. At that time I tried to adopt a pro-choice “I don’t like it but I can’t tell you what to do ” attitude. It didn’t work. Thank God I did not become pregnant during that confusing time.

    I became a committed Christian at age 25 and the pro-life mantle that I inherited from my mother manifested fully. I began to pray at the abortion clinic immediately. The woman who was doing the abortions is a friend of mine now; converted and prolife. I hope SHE writes a book; it will give all who stand and pray without giving up a renewed hope that God is ALWAYS working.

    I am now on staff with a national pro-life ministry. ....

    So a conversion in both directions, and the only purely religious choice-to-life story so far among the comments.

    What struck me about the choice-to-life conversions is that they were based on gaining additional knowledge and experience. The life-to-choice I find bewildering, since I can understand the idea of liminality -- she believes that at some point in pregnancy the fetus undergoes a total shift in status from not-human (or at least not worth defending) to human (or worth defending). Then she turns around and says, "I believe we can be in more than one place at once. I believe we can be both alive and not alive, good and not good, alone and not alone. A good example of this paradox is the Trinity, which allows us to believe that Christ is both God and man at once." Talk about basing your stand on beliefs and not facts! Her whole argument seems to be based on finding a way to adhere to the beliefs she already had about abortion being a necessity rather than a choice and legalization being beneficial to women she loves personally. Though I'd be interested in knowing if she believes the current abortion regime is better for women in general, and not for the specific women she loves, who evidently are of a mindset of embracing abortion.

    If you want to share your story in the comments, go ahead.

    PS. So far only Katie has shared her story, and it's amazing. You can read it here.