Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two Incorrigible Criminal Abortionists and a Flukey Post-Roe Death

On Monday, December 12, 1892, Emily Anderson, a Chicago widow who kept a boarding house, died of peritonitis from a criminal abortion. Emily, a widow, kept a boarding house. One of Emily's boarders, Henry Gibspen, denied having gotten Emily pregnant but said that he had accompanied her to a doctor at her request, but had stayed at the foot of the stairs. He saw her enter the office of Dr. Lucy Hagenow (pictured), then went home. Gilbspen turned State's evidence against Hagenow, but she was acquitted when the judge instructed the jury to return a not-guilty verdict, concluding on his own that the state had not produced sufficient evidence for a conviction. Hagenow had already been tried multiple times for abortion deaths in San Francisco (Louise Duchow, Annie Dories, Emma Dep, and Abbia Richards) before moving to Chicago, and had already been implicated in the deaths of Minnie Deering and Sophia Kuhn. She went on to be tied to nearly a dozen more Cook County abortion deaths, including  Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter and Mary Moorehead.

On December 12, 1930, 22-year-old Jeanette Reder died from complications of an abortion that had been perpetrated on December 1 by Dr. Emil Gleitsman. Jeanette died December 12. Gleitsman was arrested on December 13, and held for murder by abortion. He 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 was also indicted for 22-year-old Lucille van Iderstine's abortion death, and was convicted in the death of 21-year-old Mary Colbert in 1933. Jeanette's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was attributed to a physician.

The seedy careers of Lucy Hagenow and Emil Gleitsman stand as a warning to prolifers that simply recriminalizing abortion won't be enough to stop abortionists, not even the biggest quacks, from plying their trade unless the laws have teeth in them and we address the kind of corruption and political game-playing that enabled abortionists to keep killing. We will never be able to rest, because the abortionists and their enablers certainly won't.

Still, abortion deaths should remain rare. During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Jumping ahead to the safe and legal era, we have a death that actually appears to be just one of those flukey things. Thirty-year-old Sandra Williams was 11 weeks pregnant when she 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.

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