Sunday, February 05, 2012

Three Dastardly Criminal Deaths and One "All Surgery Has Risks"

Mercedes Berriozabal's death is mysterious indeed. According to the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database, by the time of her death at age 15, she was known to police as a bootlegger. The Cook County Death Index lists her as a schoolgirl. Her father, Felipi Berriozabal Jr., was living in Chicago as the Mexican Consul with his wife and family. I presume that the Homicide Database is mistaken. Mercedes had sought an abortion someplace in Chicago on February 1, 1906, but the attempt caused her physical problems without killing the baby. In an attempt to save her life, Dr. Ubayarrel Holmes performed a legal abortion on her in Wesley Hospital. This attempt proved to be in vain, and Mercedes died of blood poisoning on February 5.

On February 5, 1918, Carmile Ghant, a Black woman, died at 3746 State Street in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated by two doctors, Ges. Miller and Robert J. Miller. 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. Either way, the men were indicted on March 1, but the case never went to trial.

On January 29, 1929, Glasgow native Louise Allman, age 25, underwent an abortion at the home of Amelia K. Jaruez, a midwife. On February 5, Louise died, leaving behind a husband, Stanley. Jaruez was held by the coroner on February 23, and indicted for homicide by a grand jury, but she was acquitted on July 2.

It is today's safe, legal abortion death that is the most gruesome of them all. Carolina Gutierrez, who had come to the US as a refugee from Nicaragua at age 13, went against her husband's wishes and had a friend take her to Maber Medical Center in Miami for an abortion on December 19, 1995. Over the next several days, Carolina suffered complications but was unable to get anybody at the clinic to take her calls. On December 21st, she could hardly breathe, so her family called 911. She arrived at the emergency room already in septic shock. The desperate attempts to save her life included a hysterectomy, a respirator, and amputation of her gangrenous fingers and feet. Her 21st birthday came and went. Relatives cared for her children, a five-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, while Carolina's husband spent as much time as he could by her side. "I can't sleep. I try to take my mind off it, but it’s impossible," he told the Miami Herald. All efforts to save her were in vain, and she died February 5, 1996.

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