Saturday, December 31, 2011

Is Only Today's First Anniversary the Outrageous Death?

On December 31, 1917, 40-year-old homemaker Victoria Chmileuski died in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated by Wilhemena Benn, whose profession is given only as "abortion provider". Benn was prosecuted, but acquitted on March 7, 1918.

Those who respond with sadness and outrage at Victoria's unsafe illegal abortion death might find it in their hearts to muster a bit of sadness, and a lot of outrage, over our safe and legal anniversary today.

Eighteen-year-old Sylvia Jane Moore underwent a safe and legal abortion at the hands of Arnold Bickham on New Year's Eve of 1986. She was in the second trimester of her pregnancy, but Bickham used a suction technique suitable for a first-trimester pregnancy. After the abortion, Bickham gave Sylvia repeated injections of Demerol because she was reporting severe abdominal cramps.

According to Sylvia's mother, Sylvia was bleeding, weak, and unable to walk. When Sylvia tried to get to her feet and collapsed, Bickham called her "lazy," put her in a wheelchair, and physically ejected her from his Chicago clinic.

Sylvia's mother took her to a nearby hospital, where staff tried in vain to save Sylvia, who had arrived with no pulse and no blood pressure. An emergency hysterectomy was done to remove her lacerated uterus, which still had a plastic instrument embedded in it. The instrument was embedded in a 6.5 cm laceration, and Sylvia also had a 2.2 cm laceration of her vagina. Sylvia bled to death.

Bickham claimed that he "didn't think there was anything wrong" with Sylvia, and said that he'd merely been helping her with the wheelchair. He blamed Sylvia's death on the hospital, saying, "They were successful in repairing the damage done in the abortion, but in doing that, they perforated an artery causing there to be blood loss in the chest cavity. That was something she was not able to survive." The autopsy report, however, noted the chest tube incision but noted "lungs are well expanded and the pleural cavities are free of fluid and adhesions." An attorney with the Department of Professional Regulation said, "This patient would never have been allowed to leave Bickham's clinic with her mother.

The postmortum report said: "The circumstances of injury, review of the Medical records, the findings at autopsy examination, and subsequent investigation of the circumstances of the case provide evidence of gross negligence and abandonment on the part of the original treating physician. In consideration of the above, the manner of death is determined to be Homicide." However, no charges were pressed against Bickham.

The suit filed by Sylvia's survivors noted that Bickahm had failed to perform an ultrasound, and failed to have adequate staff or equipment. The specimen of abortion tissue sent from clinic contained segments of placental tissue, umbilical cord, and fetal intestinal parts and liver.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today's Anniversary Calls For More Research

On December 29, 1907, 19-year-old Marcie Mayer died in St. Elizabeth's hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Mary Bing, a midwife, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to Joliet. A man named John Mansfield was also held by the coroner's jury, but acquitted by the judge. Marcie's abortion was atypical in that it was not performed by a physician.

A search for more details on Marcie's death has led only to a mystery: The Coroner's Inquest Database lists a Mamie Meyer, rather than a Marcie Mayer, as having died on that date, with the inquest on the same date that Mary Bing was held by the coroner. It's getting to the point where I'm juggling my finances, wondering how and when I'm going to be able to get to Chicago and slog through the 75 coroner's inquests I've identified as holding more information I need.

When I do research like this, I'm struck with the contrast between my own work and the "research" done by abortion advocacy organizations on criminal abortion deaths. If you click women's names in my blog, you'll be taken to the women's pages on my Cemetery of Choice wiki. There, I cite my sources. When you go to prochoice pages that belabor illegal abortion deaths, you'll notice what's missing: sources. They simply assert their stories and leave it at that.

What really puzzles me about the whole thing is how many verifiable cases there are. And it's not like their own researchers haven't found them. Leslie Reagan did extensive and meticulous research for When Abortion Was a Crime. (Follow the link and read at least some of it.) Why do abortion advocacy organizations instead fuel their fires with unverified stories? That is a mystery deeper than Marcie/Mamie Mayor/Meyer's name.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

1921: Mystery Abortionist Kills Immigrants' Daughter

On December 28, 1921, Belle Keehn died at the Chicago Lying-In Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by an unknown doctor on or about November 27. Documents are unclear as to how it was determined that the perpetrator was a doctor. The hospital was a reputable facility, not a seedy abortionarium, so Belle would have received superior care as doctors tried to save her life.

Belle, a native of Wisconsin, was married to Max Keehn and worked as a housekeeper. She was the daughter of immigrants -- Frank Luzenski of Poland, and Mary (Weir) Luzenski of Germany.

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

1919: Unidentified perp leaves Pennsylvania woman dead

On December 26, 1919, Rose Kulamer, a 33-year-old homemaker who had emigrated from Hungary, died at Columbia Hospital in Wilkensberg, Pennsylvania. The coroner found that she had died of septicemia from an abortion, and recommended that the person responsible be identified and arrested.

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.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two Holiday Tragedies

On December 23, 1885, Dr. Truman Sawdy's 21-year-old daughter, Sylvia, was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, ostensibly visiting the mother of Harry McDowell, the young man who had been courting her. Sylvia had left her home in Howard City by train to make the 40-mile trip on December 10. Dr. Sawdy hadn't heard of or from her since she'd left. And he was never going to hear from her again. On the morning of Christmas Eve, Harry's father came to the house and said that he'd heard from Harry. Sylvia had taken ill and wanted her mother, Cornelia, to go to her. The following day, Christmas day, Dr. Sawdy opened his newspaper and read that his daughter was dead. It came out in the trial that in November, Sylvia had consulted with Drs. Bodle, Hake, and Bradish, indicating that she was pregnant. Evidence indicated that McDowell had performed an abortion on Sylvia on December 23, and that she died that day. McDowell was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years.

"Kimberly" was 25 years old and 18 weeks pregnant when she underwent a safe, legal pre-Roe abortion in New York City on December 23, 1970. During the abortion, she went into cardiac arrest and died, leaving behind two children.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Three Pre-Roe Anniversaries

On December 21, 1915, 34-year-old Anna Hunt died at Chicago's Rhodes Avenue Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated that day by an unknown person.

On December 21, 1926, fifteen-year-old Emily Mueller died from a criminal abortion performed December 11 somewhere in Chicago. Midwife Magdelane Stegeman, alias Motzny, was indicted for felony murder by the Grand Jury on February 15, 1927. According to the Cook County Death Index, Emily was the daughter of William and Josephine (Krajecki) Meuller and, in spite of her youth, worked as a stenographer.

Denise J. Holmes, a 24-year-old Australian woman living in Texas, decided to undergo a safe and legal abortion at Avalon Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on her way home for Christmas of 1970. Denise checked into Avalon Hospital (an abortion facility owned by Edward Campbell Allred) on December 21. She suffered an amniotic fluid embolism that carried pieces of fetal bone marrow into her lungs. She was pronounced dead by Edward Allred at Avalon at 5pm.

Denise is the first confirmed abortion death at an Allred facility. She was just the first to die before the National Abortion Federation was founded, with Allred's Family Planning Associates Medical Group as a member. Others known to have died after abortion at Allred's facilities include Patricia Chacon, Mary Pena, Josefina Garcia, Laniece Dorsey, Joyce Ortenzio, Tami Suematsu, Susan Levy, Deanna Bell, Christina Mora, Kimberly Neil, and Chanelle Bryant.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Death from the Dark Ages and one from Our Enlightened Age

On December 13, 1926, 23-year-old Chicago native Mary Paradowski underwent a criminal abortion. She died on December 20 at Chicago Hospital. On January 15, 1927, midwife Josephine Petrova was indicted for felony murder in Mary's death.
external image Illegals.png

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

Fast forward to our more enlightened and woman-loving era. Jennifer M. Halner, 27 years old, died in Maryland on December 21, 1997, after a purportedly safe, legal abortion at Potomac Family Planning for a safe, legal abortion. She was given Versed (for sedation and memory impairment), Sublimaze (a short-acting narcotic used for short-duration pain control), Propofol (a sedative for anesthesia), with Lidocaine, a local anesthetic. She was taken off the monitor in recovery even though she was already showing signs of a possible life-threatening complication. A nurse noticed and asked a doctor for some medication -- on two different occasions, because the first drug the nurse asked for didn't help -- but no doctor went to evaluation Jennifer's condition. Only when the nurse noticed that Jennifer had no pulse or respiration was she able to get a doctor do help. He started resuscitation, using the wrong equipment.Only after numerous clumsy attempts to revive the patient themselves did staff do what they should have done at the first sign of life-threatening trouble: call 911. The medics arrived and started actually providing appropriate emergency care, and took Jennifer to a hospital. Hospital staff managed to stabilize her, but only temporarily since the damage had already been done.

Monday, December 19, 2011

1921: Oklahoma-born Woman Dies in Chicago

On December 19, 1921, 18-year-old Marie Pickle died in Chicago after an abortion perpetrated by Clarence Shoere, who was identified as a nurse or midwife. Shoere was held by the coroner but not tried.

Marie, a native of Howe, Oklahoma, was a single Black woman whose occupation was listed as "Housework, general." SHe was the daughter of Robert and Bertha (Walters) Pickle.

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
external image Illegals.png

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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Three Illegal Abortion Deaths -- The Last With a Twist

On December 28, 1871, a Coroner's Jury was called to investigate the death of Mrs. Amanda McCoy. Amanda had died at the home of Dr. Fahlbusch, a German woman practicing as a midwife and described as "of good reputation." She was cleared of any suspicion in Amanda's death. The Coroner's Jury concluded that Amanda had undergone her fatal abortion before coming into the city.

On December 18, 1923, 40-year-old Sophia Hartozinski died at Chicago's County Hospital due to a criminal abortion performed there that day. The coroner identified midwife Mary Roback as having been responsible for Sophia's death.

News articles indicate Myrta Baptiste, age 26, had a safe and legal abortion of her 10 week pregnancy performed by Orlando Zaldivar at Woman's Care Clinic December 18, 1982. Myrta arrived at the hospital in critical condition due to delay of transfer by the clinic staff. She bled to death from two uterine perforations. Zaldivar could not be reached for seven hours while hospital staff were struggling to save his patient's life. Since Zaldivar's license was inactive at the time he performed Myrta's abortion, the CDC classified her death as being due to illegal abortion rather than legal abortion. The other deaths at that facility -- Ruth Montero, Shirley Payne, and Maura Morales -- were counted as legal abortion deaths.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1914: Unknown Perp Leaves Three Children Motherless

On December 17, 1914, 24-year-old Emma Fertig, wife of Edward Fertig, died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator. She left behind three children: Howard (1910), Evalyn (1912), and George (1913).

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.

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Legal and Illegal, Six Anniversaries

Today marks many tragic anniversaries. Click on each woman's name to learn more about her.

"How Mrs. Seifred was Killed by Female Quacks -- The Verdict of a Jury" reads the subhead on a December 29, 1874 edition of The Brooklyn Eagle. The paper was covering the coroner's inquest into the December 16 death of Christine Seifred. Christine had been unfaithful to her husband when he was away in Europe, and when he returned and learned of the pregnancy, he left her. Christine went to a midwife, Mrs. Johanna White, "whose den is at No. 99 Station street, when an operation was performed, from the effects of which both the woman and the child died."

On December 11, 1911, 34-year-old homemaker Mary Thorning underwent an abortion performed by Paulina Bechtel. The Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database indicates that Mary died at the scene that day, but her memorial at Find-a-Grave indicates that she actually died on December 16, leaving behind her husband, John, and daughter, Ruth. (If you leave a message at Find-a-Grave, keep in mind that Mary's daughter and grandchildren are likely still alive. Show discretion.)

On December 16, 1925, 22-year-old factory worker Bridget Masterson died in her Chicago home from a botched abortion. Police were able to question Bridget prior to her death, but she refused to implicate anybody. John O'Malley, a boarder and the father of Bridget's baby, committed suicide by gas after learning of Bridget's death. He left a note implicating "a lady doctor at 310 W. North Ave." This was the address of notorious Chicago quack abortionist Dr. Lucy Hagenow.

Barbara Auerbach
was 38 years old when she went to a New York hospital for a safe, legal abortion and tubal ligation, performed December 11, 1982. The autopsy showed that Barbara died on December 16 from an obstruction of her small bowel, which caused massive infection

Mary Pena underwent a safe and legal abortion at San Vincente Hospital in Los Angeles. During the procedure, Mary sustained two cervical lacerations, and because she was bleeding heavily, a hysterectomy was performed in an effort to save her life. The surgery was not successful, and at 1:50 am on December 16, 1984, she died while on the operating table. Mary was 43 years old and the mother of five. Abortion entrepreneur Dr. Edward Allred slipped Mary through the morgue without an autopsy, but Kern County Health Department found the death certificate fishy and ordered the autopsy that revealed the malpractice that had killed her.

Venus Ortiz died in a nursing home on December 16, 1998, of lingering complications of a botched abortion she underwent at age 23 in 1993 at National Abortion Federation member Eastern Women's Center. Venus had remained in a permanent vegetative state for the remainder of her life. Two other patients, Dawn Ravenelle and Dawn Mack, also died of complications of abortions done at Eastern Women's Center.
throughout her body.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two Beneficiaries of Safety and Legality

Twenty-year-old LaSandra Russ, from Berkley, California, went to Los Angeles to have an abortion on December 13, 1971. She was six weeks pregnant. The abortion was performed at Memorial Hospital of Hawthorne the next day, December 14. LaSandra went into cardiac arrest almost immediately after the abortion. Attempts were made to revive her, but she was finally pronounced dead on December 15, 1971.

Abortionist Andre Nehorayoff was disciplined over the abortion death of a patient identified by the medical board as "Patient F." Since other accounts of her death refer to her as "Faye Roe," I will use this pseudonym as well.

Faye was 19 years old when she went to Nehorayoff's office for a safe and legal abortion on December 15, 1979, for an abortion. Nehorayoff failed to record an adequate history or medical exam for Faye. Nehorayoff left Faye in a recovery room at 2:25 p.m., without any monitoring. When somebody finally checked on her an hour later, she was cyanotic (blue) and had no pulse. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. Nehorayoff was also disciplined regarding Patient E, an 18-year-old patient who bled to death after Nehorayoff sent her home in 1983 with a fetal leg still in her uterus. Nehorayoff's other cases are described here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How Lead Leads to Lead and Reveals More on Abortion Death

My original research on the November 18, 1942 abortion death of 26-year-old Madeline McGeehan was based on New York Times articles.

Recently I started doing one of my periodic prowls through Find-a-Grave, looking for leads to additional information about the Cemetery of Choice women and I found a memorial for Madlyon McGeehan.

At first I did bad math and calculated the Luzurne County Madlyon as being 36 years old, became bewildered, and decided to do a little more investigating. It seemed unlikely that two women with different spellings of the same name both died in the Bronx on the same day. How could I reconcile a 10-year age difference?

Well, thank God for bad math, because otherwise I'd not have gone delving for more, and I'd not have learned more about Madlyon's life and tragic death.

This AP story published in a Texas paper on November 27, 1942, reveals that 58-year-old Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, the abortionist, was held on $150,000 bail on a charge of homicide in connection with Madlyon's peritonitis death. Nisonoff's nurse, Camille Ewald, was held on $50,000 bail, and the "friend," Henry Elters, was held on $15,000 as a material witness.

Elters reportedly told Assistant District Attorney James Carney that he had known Madlyon
for about seven years, and that they had gone to Nisonoff's office in Queens on an unspecified date, and gave Ewald $600. She told Elters to "take a walk." He returned to find Madlyon resting on a couch. On November 15, Elters was told that Madlyon needed a blood transfusion. She was admitted to Prospect Hospital as Betty McGee. After her death there, she was correctly identified by her sister, Mary, who had come came from the family home at Hazleton, PA, to claim Madlyon's body.

During six hours of questioning, Nisonoff himself denied any connection with Madlyon's death.

Madlyon was an OPA employee who had been living in Washington DC.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sharon's Death: Your Tax Dollars at Work

First, a little background.

In one session of a National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar, a participant indicated that when he pulled bowel (extracted part of a patient's bowel through a perforation in her uterus), his preferred method of treatment (if you can call it that) was to stuff the bowel back through the perforation, administer medications to make the uterus contract and control bleeding, monitor the woman more carefully in recovery, and if she seemed okay, send her home none the wiser.

The moderator was appalled. He pointed out that even if there was no obvious injury to the bowel, it might be bruised and damaged. The recommended procedure is to admit the patient to the hospital and examine her bowel, and observe her for signs of further injury. The moderator then asked how many of the other participants followed this method of stuffing the bowel back in and hoping for the best. Six participants raised their hands to be counted.

I knew it was only a matter of time before one of these bowel-stuffing abortionists killed somebody. That's where the unwitting Sharon Hamptlon (left) stepped into the picture. She went to Bruce Steir (rhymes with fear) at A Lady's Choice Women's Medical Center for a safe, legal abortion on December 13, 1996. She was 20 weeks pregnant.

Steir remained at the facility for about an hour after Sharon's abortion. She was still in the recovery room when he left.

Excerpts from Doris's statement to the medical board can be found at ...And So I Could Hold You and You Could Go to Sleep. I'll let her tell the story:

Maybe around 3:00 pm I took Curtis inside to use the bathroom. I saw a grey haired man dressed in green surgical clothes sitting at a desk. He said, "You know she is far along." I said, "No. I didn't know because she didn't tell me." Then I saw Sharon in the recovery room about 3:30 or 4:00 pm. She looked so bad that I felt scared. She was laying on a lazyboy style chair with an IV in her left arm and a blood pressure cuff on the other. She looked very pale. Her eyes were partially open and I could see only the whites of her eyes as if she were in shock. She was not speaking and her whole body was shaking real hard in big shivers. Her legs were especially bad. The doctor said, "She doesn't react to drugs well." .... A woman came in and said that Sharon didn't need the blankets that were on her already and pulled the blankets off. Other girls in the recovery room were vomiting and the attendant woman told the girls to keep vomiting, that vomiting was good for them at this time. I went back to the waiting room and a Spanish lady came out and said that Sharon would be ready in a few minutes as soon as the IV finished.

Sharon was in the recovery for only about 45 minutes, because at 5:00 pm they came out and said she was ready to leave. I heard someone say that the doctor was real busy and he had to rush out like he was going to the airport, something about him having to go to Sacramento or San Francisco. I saw two women struggling to place Sharon in a wheelchair. Sharon could not walk at all and she was not speaking. She looked very, very pale now.

....On the way home to Barstow, I stopped at Wendy's to get a sandwich for little Curtis. I tried to wake Sharon but all she said was "Huh, Huh." Then Curtis said, "Mamma, I love you. Do you need anything? Are you okay?" And Sharon said, "Okay. I'll take a drink." Sharon was lying in the backseat of the car and said to Curtis, "Come on back with me Curtis. I love you and so I could hold you and you could go to sleep." She was silent for about one hour. Near Victorville, she said, "I'm so hot. Please let the window down." I opened the window a bit. After that, Sharon was silent forever.

We got home to Barstow and I saw that Sharon, still laying in the back seat was naked from the waist up, having removed her shirt, shoes and socks. I started yelling, "Sharon. Sharon. Wake up," but she didn't and my husband, Ben Hamptlon, said, "Call 911."

According to Nancy Myles, an untrasound technician who was assisting Steir during Sharon's abortion, Steir was having trouble locating and extracting the fetal skull. She said that he looked at her strangely and said, "I think I pulled bowel."

Steir was already on probation with the medical board at the time of Sharon's abortion; he had a history of botching abortions, including causing uterine perforations. He'd been found negligent in six abortion cases, including three in which the woman had to undergo a hysterectomy. One woman had to have a fetal skull removed from a tear in her uterus. Steir surrendered his licence in 1997, in the wake of the fallout surrounding Sharon's death.

Pro-choice organizations, including the national leadership of NOW, and the National Abortion Federation and the California Abortion and Reproduction Rights League, rallied around Steir. One supporter stood outside the courthouse with a sign reading, "Abortion doctors are heroes, defend Dr. Bruce Steir." The Feminist Women's Health Center in Chico, with whom he once was affiliated, set up a "defense committee" and raised funds for his legal expenses.

Joseph Durante, who owned the facility, was also on probation with the medical board at the time of Sharon's fatal abortion. He had attempted a late abortion which resulted in the birth of a live but injured infant.

Sharon was a single mother who worked part-time at Burger King while attending community college. Sharon's mother said that she wanted to go off welfare and become a nurse. California taxpayers ffunded the fatal abortion through Medi-Cal.

Steir eventually plea bargained. He was sentenced to a year in prison, with six months of the sentence suspended in leiu of community service. He was also given five years' probation. At the sentencing hearing, four years after Sharon's death, Sharon's father said he still often pulled his car to the side of the road, looked at his daughter's picture, and wept.

Steir was released after serving only four months of his sentence.
Again, from Doris Hamplton's statement:

I don't know how she heard about Dr. Durante's offices. I think he was recommended by the people at San Bernardino County Social Services or by Dr. Krider. Sharon was on Medi-Cal and had Pacific Care as the Medi-Cal managed care agent. I understand that because Dr. Durante and Dr. Steir were on probation they were not entitled to Medi-Cal payment, but they got it anyway. I understand that their office was not accredited as an ambulatory surgical office, and that it was supposed to be accredited to comply with the law. I had no idea that Dr. Durante and Dr. Steir were on probation with the Medical Board for incompetence and negligence against women patients. I am sure that Sharon did not know either. If I had known, I would never have taken Sharon to such a bad place with such bad doctors. I learned about their records in the newspaper articles.

....I cry every day for the terrible loss of my daughter, and I am overwhelmed that 3 year old Curtis had his mother taken away forever. My husband, Ben Hamptlon, (father of Sharon), is sick with grief, has terrible head pain, is under the care of a doctor for this and has been taking strong pain medicine since Sharon's death. My prayer is that these doctors be stopped immediately so that no other girl will be killed and that no other family will have to suffer as we have.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Two Anniversaries, Criminal and Legal

On December 12, 1930, 22-year-old Jeanette Reder died from complications of a criminal abortion performed at the Chicago office of Dr. Emil Gleitsman. Gleitsman was indicted by a grand jury for homicide, but was acquitted on June 15, 1931. The source does not clarify why there was enough evidence to indict Gleitsman, but not enough to convict him. Gleitsman, a rather dogged abortionist, was also implicated in the deaths of 22-year-old Lucille van Iderstine and 21-year-old Mary Colbert. Click on Jeanette's name to learn more about her and the man who killed her.

Thirty-year-old Sandra Williams was 11 weeks pregnant when whe underwent an abortion on December 12, 1984. She went home following the abortion. Less than twelve hours later, she was dead. Her death certificate noted that she died from a pulmonary embolism.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

1914: Unknown Perpetrator Kills Young Teen

On December 10, 1914, 13-year-old Ida Kaufman died in a Chicago home after an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator. I've been unable to learn any more details, such as who was responsible for Ida's pregnancy or who arranged the fatal abortion.

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

Friday, December 09, 2011

1956: "The Angel of Ashland" Kills New York Woman

On Saturday, December 8, 1956, 26-year-old Mary Davies of New York City arrived in the Ashland, Pennsylvania office of abortionist Dr. Robert Douglas Spencer (pictured). She was seeking an abortion.

As a physician, Spencer was typical of criminal abortionists. What was unusual about him was that rather than sneak the woman in through the back alley, Spencer plied his abortion trade openly.

According to Spencer, Mary was alone, and reported that she'd been bleeding for about two weeks. He didn't examine her, but gave her medication for pain and Ergotrate to stop the bleeding. He told her to return the following day for her abortion.

Mary returned at about 10 AM on the 9th. He administered 13 ccs. of Evipal in a 10% solution to induce anesthesia. "I injected that solution into the vein of the left arm and in ten seconds she was asleep." Spencer said that the next thing he noticed was that Mary wasn't breathing. She also appeared blue. He injected five ccc. of "Metrozol"* into her left leg. She didn't respond, so he gave her an additional five ccs. of "Metrozol", this time injecting the drug into a vein. Mary still did not respond, so Spencer attempted to resuscitate her with oxygen. He called his assistant, Mildred Zettlemoyer, into the room to assist him. With Mary in Zettlemoyer's care, Spencer went to another part of the building to retrieve adrenaline. He gave Mary three injections of adrenaline.

Mary still was not responding, so Spencer had Zettlemoyer call the laboratory assistant, Steve Sekunda, and tell him to come to the office. Spencer put a breathing tube into Mary's throat, but had to work blind because the light on his scope wasn't working. He resumed artificial respiration, "and pulled on her tongue, but got no response." By the time Sekunda arrived, at around 11:30, Spencer had concluded that Mary was dead. The puzzled man concluded "that this patient died in my office from some heart disease."

Dr. Milton Helpern, chief medical examiner for New York City, was among the experts that testified in Spencer's trial for Mary's death. Helpern concluded that Mary had been pregnant, that the pregnancy had been terminated right before her death, and that she'd died from administration of a drug used for anesthesia for performing a D&C. Mary had been in good health prior to her death.

Patricia G. Miller, author of The Worst Of Times, asked another doctor, "Dr. Bert," who had practiced before legalization, to review news reports of Mary's death and speculate as to whether Mary would have died had abortion been legal.

"Dr. Bert" faulted Spencer for not having an assistant while he was administering general anesthesia. "In my view, to give a general anesthetic alone is below good medical care, even in those days." He speculated that Spencer had not had an assistant working with him due to the law against abortion -- an odd speculation, since Spencer was doing abortions quite openly, with at least one member of his staff present in the building. It's also an odd speculation considering how many legal abortionists have had patients die from anesthesia complications, either due to inadequate supervision of the anesthesia process or inadequate resuscitation efforts.

Spencer's widow, Eleanor, told Patricia Miller that her husband had been quite stricken by Mary Davies' death. He continued to perform abortions, however, along with his regular medical practice, up until the trial. He was acquitted on all counts, likely because it was impossible to prove that Mary hadn't either miscarried during those two weeks of bleeding prior to her appointment with Spencer, or been aborted by somebody else. No mention is made of any fetal remains being found in Mary's body or in Spencer's office.

Spencer briefly stopped doing abortions after the trial, "for a month or so," his widow said. But he resumed his business and eventually got entangled with a fellow named Harry Mace who set up a business for himself rounding up abortion patients and bringing them to Spencer. Spencer's widow lamented that Mace flooded Spencer with patients, pressuring him to rush through abortions. Spencer's health began to fail. He was arrested again, due to the attention from Mace's activities, but died before the case went to trial.

Mary Davies is the only woman known to have died from abortion related complications under Spencer's care. Spencer is estimated to have performed between 40,000 and 100,000 abortions.

*The drug is spelled "Metrozol" in Spencer's written statement. However, my web searches for "Metrozol" turn up a veterinary medication used to treat skin diseases in fish. Spencer clearly meant Metrazol, a drug used as a respiratory and circulatory stimulant.
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

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Two Safe, Legal Deaths

I have few details on the first death we commemorate today. Myria McFadden, age 28, underwent a second-trimester abortion performed by Dr. Hazel Tape on December 7, 1987, in Washington, DC. Myria had trouble breathing after the abortion, and suffered heart and lung failure the next day. She died at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Springs on December 8.

The second death, a truly horrifying story, was fully documented.
On December 8, 1994, 23-year-old Magdalena Rodriguez went to Suresh Gandotra's clinic, El Norte Clinica Medica, for what she thought was a safe, legal second-trimester abortion. Gandotra later said, "I knew I screwed up," when he pulled out bowel instead of fetal parts.

Click on Magdalena's name to learn the full story of how this quack "screwed up," costing this young mother her life.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

1925: Unknown Perpetrator's Fatal Work

On December 7, 1925, 18-year-old Margaret Zito died at Chicago's West End Hospital from a criminal abortion performed that day. The person responsible for Margaret's death was never identified.

Keep in mind 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

Monday, December 05, 2011

1905: One Dead Woman, Two Doctors Arrested

On December 5, 1905, 19-year-old Mrs. Annie Killhoff died at her home from an abortion performed there that day. Two physicians, Joseph Vassumpaur and Charles Boddiger, were arrested, Vassumpaur as the principle and Boddiger as an accessory. Patrick Dillon was also held as an accessory. The case, however, never went to trial, for reasons not provided by the source. Annie's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Note, please, that with 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, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

external image Illegals.png
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Cop and the Medical Student

Queens patrolman Howard Bailey, morgue attendant Victor Genz, and a Texas medical student, Benjamin Lockhart, were arrested in the December 4, 1965 abortion death of Rita Shea, a 33-year-old Long Island woman.

Lockhart confessed to performing the abortion in a motel room near Kennedy airport. After Rita died, her body was put in a car outside her home. Bailey, a married man, had evidently arranged the abortion to keep his affair with Rita a secret. Sources don't indicate why the abortion was perpetrated in Texas, rather than in New York where a plethora of physician-abortionists plied their trade.

Rita's abortion was a bit unusual in that most pre-legalization abortions were done by physicians. But abortions like hers, performed by people with at least some medical training, were still more common than amateur or self-induced abortions. (See The Bad Old Days of Abortion.)

During the 1940s, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality from abortion. The death toll fell from 1,407 in 1940, to 744 in 1945, to 263 in 1950. Most researches attribute this plunge to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

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

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Same Song, Five Different Verses

Grace Wolf, a young married woman, traveled from her home in Lansing to the office of Dr. C. Allen Snyder in Dubuque, Iowa, on November 19, 1917. Shortly after leaving, she took ill, and her condition deteriorated until her death on December 3. The autopsy had found evidence of recent pregnancy and a puncture in Grace's uterus. Snyder was prosecuted, largely based on Grace's dying declaration naming him as the perpetrator. Snyder's defense argued that Grace was already sick from fever and septicemia when she arrived at his office, and that he treated her only briefly. Snyder was convicted of manslaughter, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.

On December 2, 1977, 29-year-old Jacqueline Bailey was injected with saline by Dr. Eboreime for an instillation abortion at Pacific Glen Hospital in Los Angeles County. Five hours after Jackie expelled the dead baby, her condition appeared grave. Shortly after midnight, she was transferred to Memorial Hospital of Glendale. Doctors at Memorial suspected a uterine laceration, so they performed exploratory surgery. The bleeding was so profuse that they then performed a hysterectomy in a last-ditch attempt to save her life. Jackie died just before sunrise on December 3. The autopsy report found that Jackie's uterus had ruptured during the abortion, and that her uterine artery had been lacerated. She had bled to death from her injuries. Two years earlier, Cheryl Tubbs also bled to death from a ruptured uterus caused by a saline abortion at Pacific Glen.

Cora Mae Lewis was 23 years old when she went to Inglewood Women's Hospital (aka Inglewood Women's Clinic) in Los Angeles County for a safe and legal abortion on November 4, 1983. She had gonorrhea at the time of the abortion, which led to inflammation of the cervix and uterus. Cora developed fever and chills after her abortion, and was finally admitted to a hospital on November 11. She was aggressively treated, but died December 3 from pneumonia and lung abscess contributed to by the uterine and cervical inflammation.
Other deaths at Inglewood include Yvonne Tanner, Kathy Murphy, Belinda Byrd,Lynette Wallace, and Elizabeth Tsuji.

Abortionist Andre Nehorayoff performed a safe and legal abortion on 18-year-old "Ellen" Roe on November 29, 1983. After the abortion, Nehorayoff discharged Ellen even though he had not removed or identified all fetal parts. Two days later, Nehorayoff received a lab report confirming that there was still a lot of fetal tissue in Ellen's body. Nehorayoff noted no attempt to notify Ellen of the incomplete abortion. At 5:10 AM on December 3, Ellen was rushed to an emergency room in a coma. An hour later, she was pronounced dead from hemorrhaging due to the incomplete abortion. Nehorayoff was also disciplined regarding the death of Patient F.

Teresa Causey clutched her mother's hand during her safe and legal abortion, perpetrated by Joe Wesley McDaniel on December 3, 1988. Her mother later said that 17-year-old Teresa's last words were, "Oh, mama, mama, it hurts so much!" Then she lost consciousness on the abortion table. When McDaniel was unable to awaken her, he tried smelling salts, slapped her face, then tried to reach another doctor before finally calling an ambulance. Teresa died of massive hemorrhage the day of her abortion from two uterine perforations and two lacerated veins. She left behind two children.

Friday, December 02, 2011

All Three Equally Dead

On December 2, 1901, the body of Rose Lefebre was found in the office of Dr. Volbending. It appeared that Rose had died from an abortion. Dr. Volbending was arrested, but she was later exonerated by a Coroner's Jury. I've been unable to determine who actually perpetrated the fatal abortion or why Rose was in Dr. Volbending's office.

On December 5, 1948, Dr. Cyril B. Babb pleaded guilty to performing a fatal abortion on 21-year-old Doris Becker the previous Wednesday in his office. Doris died 20 hours later at the apartment of a friend, Anne Martin. Anne and a bartender, George Kutrones, were held as material witnesses. Babb also admitted to performing 30 other abortions. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 to 12 years in prison for manslaughter and abortion.

During an abortion at Brooklyn Women's Medical Pavilion on December 1, 1998, 22-year-old Tamika Dowdy stopped breathing. Her fiance, sitting in the waiting room, noticed that a doctor kept walking in and out, "sweating real fierce and pacing. He did that several times, and then he finally came up to me and said that her heart had stopped." The fiance rode with Tamika to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead the following day. According to the NAF web site, Brooklyn Women's Medical Pavilion was a member facility.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Another One Bit the Dust

While looking for a photo to go with today's blog post about the death of Suzanne Logan, I found one -- with the obituary of the ... individual ... who killed her: Gideon M. Kioko, MD.

Kioko went to meet his maker on May 1, 2010, aged 70 years, 5 months, 10 days. Both of his victims, Suzanne Logan and Debra Gray, died at his hands at the age of 34.

Thanks to Kathy and Kitty, I've been able to figure out how to upload the PDF files from the Medical Board about this... character. And heeeeere they are!

1991 -- Documents relating to surrender of license
1995 -- Asks for his license back, is told to go pound sand
May 1997 -- Asks again, seems really sorry, so they say, "Okay, as long as you promise to be a good boy."
October 1997 -- "Stop doing outpatient abortions after 18 weeks, dude!"
1999 -- "Okay, you've been a good boy. You're fully reinstated as a totally okay doctor as far as we're concerned."
2005 -- Reiterating his Maryland badness, then smacking him down and suspending his license for being a quacky dipshit in the District of Columbia as well as in Maryland. I'll do a write up later on his escapades.
2006 -- Reiterating his badness and yanking his license.

Evidently he thought better of trying to get his license back this time and just enjoyed his money until he assumed room temperature. Thank God for that, anyway.

A Criminal Abortion Death, and the Legalization Supposed to Prevent More Deaths

On December 1, 1928, 23-year-old Esther V. Wahlstrom died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Lou E. Davis was held by the coroner for murder by abortion on December 12. She was indicted for felony murder on December 15.

Davis was also implicated in the abortion deaths of Anna Adler , Mary Whitney, Anna Borndal, Irene Kirschner, and Gertrude Gaesswitz.

A news clipping photo showing a middle-aged white woman in profile. She has short, curled or pinned-up medium-dark hair and is wearing a dark hat.
Dr. Lou E. Davis
I don't have enough information about Esther's death to make a judgment about the quality of care she received. I don't know if she died because Dr. Davis did something appalling (assuming, of course, that killing Esther's unborn baby wasn't appalling enough on its own), or if Esther was simply a victim of the quality of medical care in the age before antibiotics and blood transfusions.

The same can't be said about the 1992 death of Suzanne Logan. What passed for "care" at the deplorable Maryland abortion mill was so appalling that even 60 Minutes stopped and paid attention.

A color portrait of a heavy, middle-aged Black man in a suit and tie. He is bald and wearing eyeglasses.
Dr. Gideon Kioko
Suzanne had gone to Hillview for an abortion on September 9, 1989. There was no record of how much intravenous Brevital was administered to Suzanne, or who administered the drug. Suzanne was already unconscious on the table when abortionist Gideon Kioko (pictured, right) and his unlicensed nurse entered the procedure room. During the abortion, the nurse noted that Suzanne's lips were turning blue. She told Kioko, who continued with the abortion. There is no record that anybody monitored her vital signs or administered oxygen.

Eventually somebody summoned emergency medical services (EMS). The EMS personnel reported that the Hillview employees seemed "very confused and did not seem to know what they were doing." EMS staff also noted that Hillview staff had put an oxygen mask on Suzanne upside-down, so that she wasn't getting any oxygen.

Suzanne was blue from lack of oxygen, limp, had no pulse and was not breathing. EMS workers managed to perform CPR and get Suzanne's heart and lungs working again, and transported her to a hospital. Suzanne remained comatose and was transferred to a nursing home. Four months after the abortion, she regained consciousness, but was paralyzed and unable to speak. She had no memory of the abortion, but was able to eventually recall having gone to the clinic.

Local prolifers visited Suzanne, and bought her a device that allowed her to communicate. She was interviewed by 60 Minutes, and asked what she wanted. She replied, "To go home."

Suzanne filed suit against Kioko and the clinic. In November of 1992, she finally won her suit, and was awarded $2.6 million and $10,000 a month for life, to cover her expenses. Sadly, Suzanne died on December 1, before she had a chance to fulfill her wish of seeing her father again.

When 60 Minutes interviewed Barbara Radford, then-president of the National Abortion Federation, she defended the head-in-the-sand attitude the organization took toward safety issues by saying, "We want to make sure that women have choices when it comes to abortion services, and if you regulate it too strictly, you then deny women access to the service." When they asked pro-choice Maryland State Senator Mary Boergers why nothing was being done to address dangerous abortion clinics. Boergers said, "There's only so much of a willingness to try to push a group like the pro-choice movement to do what I think is the responsible thing to do because they then treat you as if you're the enemy."

That attitude toward the deplorable conditions at Hillview cost Suzanne, as well as abortion patient Debra Gray their lives. And that "see no evil" mentality persists to this day, as evidenced by the results we saw when prochoicers decided to turn a blind eye to Kermit Gosnell's Philadelphia "house of horrors" where two abortion patients were fatally injured and uncounted numbers of viable, live-born infants killed with a "snip" to the spinal cord.

Abortion was legalized ostensibly to prevent the deaths of women like Esther Wahlstrom. But legalization proponents did nothing to protect Suzanne Logan, Debra Gray, and other women who have lost their lives to abortion quackery.