Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Doctors, Husbands, Friends, and Death

On February 15, 1917, 28-year-old Marie Benzing died at Chicago Union Hospital from an abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Helen Dugdale. Dugdale was arrested on February 18 and indicted by a Grand jury on March 15, but the case never went to trial.

Margaret Marts tried to pressure her family doctor into performing an abortion on her when she discovered she was pregnant in January of 1920, insisting that she'd rather die than have another baby. Instead of addressing her distressed mental state, the doctor tried to convince her that she wasn't pregnant. Margaret found another doctor, E. Anderson, who was willing to do the abortion, and had some friends come to her home to assist. When she became deathly ill with sepsis afterward, she realized that she hadn't really meant it when she'd said she'd rather die than give birth, and lamented that she had trusted Anderson's assurances that an abortion would be safe and easy. But by then the damage was done. Margaret died on February 15.

University students Nina Harding (pictured) and Logan Pierce, children of wealthy families, had been engaged for about a year when they suddenly eloped and moved into a Chicago rooming house on February 20, 1925. Four days later, late in the evening of Valentine's Day, Logan took a gravely ill Nina to the Chicago Lying-In Hospital and promptly disappeared, leaving her to die the following night, alone but for the strangers who had fought in vain to save her life. Warrants were quickly issued for the arrest of the flighty husband, and for notorious Chicago abortionist Dr. Lucy Hagenow. Other Chicago abortion deaths linked to Hagenow include Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter, and Mary Moorehead.

Doris Grant, age 32, was admitted by W. W. Williams to Doctor's Hospital in Los Angeles for a safe and legal abortion February 11, 1971. Doris bled heavily afterward, and doctors discovered that she'd actually had an ectopic pregnancy. Despite aggressive efforts, including a hysterectomy, Doris bled to death on February 15.

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