Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two Criminal, Two Legal, All Equally Dead

John O. Edmonson was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree after an abortion he arranged resulted in the April 18, 1893 death of his paramour, 20-year-old Ada Hawk. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Edmonson, a widower, had at first tried to cajole two different men into marrying Ada, but she was predictably resentful rather than grateful. Edmonson and Ada tried using a rubber catheter to cause an abortion, to no effect. Edmonson then took Ada to Springfield, where a doctor and "an old woman" agreed to perform an abortion for $50, which evidently was performed by giving sort of concoction to Ada which achieved nothing other than making her ill. Edmonson admonished her parents not to seek care for Ada from Dr. Hardin, the family physician, instead arranging for a Dr. Perry to care for her. Edmonson coached Ada on how to hide the abortion from her mother. Some two or three weeks passed during which Ada kept her secret, while she continued to take some greenish medicine Edmonson had provided. Ada bled heavily and passed a clot, which led her mother to conclude that her daughter had been pregnant and had aborted. Finally, realizing that she was dying, Ada confessed the abortion to her mother, and lay blame on Edmonson for bringing about her "ruin" and for failing in his promise to care for her. After the girl's death, Edmonson asked a Mr. Brown to help him dig a grave, telling Brown that "he wanted her buried quick" and that "the family wanted a shallow grave." The coroner had Ada's body exhumed, but it was too decomposed for him to be able to perform a satisfactory autopsy.

On April 18, 1908, 36-year-old homemaker Sophia E. Turner died in Dr. Jessie E. Robertson's Chicago office from complications of an abortion performed April 18. Robertson was acquitted for reasons not given in the source document.

"Sandra" was 18 years old when she underwent a first-trimester abortion procedure in New York, under the state's liberal abortion law. Three days later, on April 18, 1971, Sandra killed herself. Before her death, she had expressed guilt about having "killed her baby." Tragically, nobody had contacted Sandra to give her the results of the pathology report on what had been removed from her uterus. There had been no embryo. Sandra had not actually been pregnant.

Barbara Lerner, age 30, of Dade County, Florida, was found dead from blood poisoning early in the morning of April 18, 1981. The CDC investigated Barbara's death and designated it as due to legal abortion.

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