Thursday, February 28, 2013

Your Tax Dollars at Work and Other Abortion Deaths

Diana and her children
Diana Lopez, age 25, was 19 weeks pregnant when she went to a Planned Parenthood for a safe and legal abortion on February 28, 2002. Before the day was over, Diana had bled to death. She left two sons, 4-year-old Frankie and 2-year-old Fabian, motherless. The taxpayers of California paid for the fatal abortion, courtesy of Medi-Cal. After the abortion, Diana had been rushed by ambulance to County Women‘s Hospital, where a hysterectomy was performed and Diana was given five units of whole blood in a futile attempt to save her life. Diana‘s autopsy noted that Diana had hemorrhaged from a perforation of her cervix. A lawsuit filed by Diana's widower says that Diana‘s abortion was rushed through in only six minutes, although Planned Parenthood‘s own web site says such a procedure should take 10 to 20 minutes.
Abortionist Maltzer
The family‘s attorney also noted that in 2000, the same Planned Parenthood rushed another woman though a similar 6-minute abortion, lacerating the patient‘s cervix, rupturing her uterus, perforating her sigmoid colon and causing the loss of 2 liters of blood. Planned Parenthood also delayed three hours before transferring the patient to a hospital. Fortunately, this patient survived her ordeal. The medical board took no action against Diana‘s abortionist, Dr. Mark Maltzer, either. However, the California Department of Health Services investigated the facility and cited Planned Parenthood for a variety of violations including keeping incomplete records, not reporting adverse outcomes, and not following their own policies for administering medications.The fact that the Planned Parenthood has made "corrections" to satisfy the state does not satisfy Diana‘s family. "It was wrong. It was wrong," said Judy Lopez, Diana‘s older sister. "She was healthy. She was fine."

Andrea Corey was 31 years old when she was referred by nearby Planned Parenthood to Southern Tier Women's Services in New York for a safe and legal abortion. Andrea, who worked as a secretary and bookkeeper, was sent home after her abortion, but she had retained tissue that caused clostridium perfringens septicemia ("gas gangrene"). She died at Rutland Regional Medical Center on February 28, 1993.

Human Life International mentions that abortionist Angel Acevado Montalvo was charged with manslaughter in two cases of maternal deaths from safe and legal abortion, including the February 28, 1992 death of Diane Adams. The other death was of of Rosael Rodriguez.

On Monday, January 6, 1930, "Mike" brought 17-year-old "Eudroa" from Wellinton, Kansas, to Wichita to seek an abortion at the hands of Dr. Charles C. Keester. They knew his name and looked him up in the phone book to find him. The couple told Keester that the girl was pregnant and wanted "an operation to get rid of the condition." Keester put her in some sort of reclining exam chair and examined her, then used instruments on her as Mike stood at her head and observed. Keester then helped Eudora from the chair and sent the couple to a hotel half a block away, where Keester kept his patients -- much the same way late-term abortion doctors currently keep their patients in motels. Mike paid $40 in cash and took Eudora to the hotel, where they registered as a married couple. On the 9th, Mike tried to contact Keester because Eudora was unwell, much as Jennifer Marbelli's family had been unable to reach LeRoy Carhart when she was ailing after her abortion. Mike wasn't able to reach Keester until January 10, when he went to the hotel, examined Eudora, and used some instruments to treat her. On Saturday, Eudora seemed better. On Sunday at about 2:30, Keester visited the hotel and said that Eudora was well enough to go home. Mike took Eudora to his mother's home in Wellington, telling her about the abortion. On Monday night, Eudora took ill. Mike told Eudora's sister what had happened, and the family summoned Dr. McGrew, who examined Eudora and recommended that she be taken to a hospital. She was admitted the next morning, January 14. She was suffering peritonitis. Dr. Van Deventer was summoned on January 23, and he and McGrew examined Eudora. They found her in grave shape, and summoned Dr. Snyder. Snyder performed surgery on January 31, with Dr. McGrew assisting with anesthesia, to try to save Eudora's life. McGrew testified later that Eudora's abdomen had been full of abscesses. Eudora's condition continued to deteriorate. On February 4, she was given a blood transfusion. On the evening of Feb 5 or 6, she asked everybody but her stepmother to leave the room. She said, "Mother, I am going to die. What Dr. Keester did to me is going to kill me." She then told of the trip to Wichita and the abortion. On February 12 Eudora became irrational, but she continued to linger until her death on February 28. Keester was convicted of manslaughter in Eudora's death, and his appeal was denied. UPDATE: I have since identified Eudora as Rena Armstrong.

On February 28, 1918, 27-year-old Mrs. Catherine Lurandowski died at Chicago's County Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Katerine Eichenberg on November 20 of 1917.Eichenberg, whose profession is given only as "abortion provider", was also noted as "known to police" and operating sometimes under the alias of Ekowski.

On February 28, 1914, 23-year-old homemaker Martha Kwasek died at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Two Deaths Before Roe

"Roseanne" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. Roseanne was in the second trimester of pregnancy when she chose safe and legal abortion, permissible under New York's liberalized abortion law, in 1971. She was 37 years old, had had four children. She was infused with saline for the abortion. Two days later, she began vomiting and having siezures. She aspirated some of the vomit and developed pneumonia. The pneumonia took its toll. Roseanne died on February 27 from the pneumonia and anoxic brain damage.

As you can see from the graph below, abortion deaths were falling dramatically before legalization. This steep fall had been in place for decades. To argue that legalization lowered abortion mortality simply isn't supported by the data.

external image Abortion+Deaths+Since+1960.jpg

On February 27, 1926, 36-year-old Anna Wilger died in her home from complications of an abortion performed that day.Theresa Struhala was indicted for felony murder in Anna's death. Struhala's profession is not listed, but she was on the 1920 census as a midwife. John Wilger, whose relationship to Anna was not disclosed, was booked as an accomplice, but was later released.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Deaths from the 1920s

On February 6, 1924, Ida Cantor performed an abortion on Wanda Szidzewicz. Wanda developed septicemia after the abortion, and went to a Massachusetts hospital on February 11. She was treated there until her death on February 26. The jury found that Cantor used improperly sterilized instruments in the abortion. A key part of the prosecution's case was a deathbed statement by the injured woman.

Dr. Richard Thacker
Marie Epperson, just 19 years old, was an early victim of Oklahoma City abortionists J.W. Elsiminger and Richard E. Thacker. Marie died February 26, 1929. Her brother had told authorities about the abortion. The doctors lay low for a while, then were implicated, sometimes together and sometimes singly, in a total of eight abortion deaths, most of them taking place in the spring of 1932: Isobel F. Ferguson (Elsiminger and Thacker), Ruth Hall (Elsiminger and Thacker), Virginia Lee Wyckoff (Eisiminger), Lennis May Roach (Elsiminger and Thacker), Nancy Joe Lee (Thacker), Robbie Lou Thompson (Thacker).

Monday, February 25, 2013

A "Trunk Mystery" and Two Other Criminal Deaths

On February 25, 1918, 34-year-old homemaker Mary Mayer died at Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.
The coroner found that she had died of septicemia following a self-induced abortion.

Dr. Lillian Hobbs (pictured) was convicted of murder in the 1916 abortion death of 21-year-old Alda Christopherson. The testimony of John K. McDonald, who was granted immunity in exchange, was crucial in the case. He was the father of Alda's aborted baby. Depending on whose testimony you believe, the whole sordid story began either on February 21, or six weeks earlier. All testimony agreed that Alda and John had visited Hobbs' practice. John insisted that Hobbs had perpetrated the fatal abortion. Hobbs, a known abortionist, insisted that she'd merely been treating Alda for complications of an abortion she'd attempted to perform on herself with a button hook.  Between Alda's death and the trial, Hobbs had been indicted for the 1917 abortion death of Ellen Matson. The jury evidently thought that Hobbs' story didn't hold water, since they found her guilty and she was sentenced to 14 years in prison. She appealed, protesting that it was inappropriate to bring up the death of Ellen Matson as evidence of her practice as a criminal abortionist, since Ellen died nearly two years after Alda's death and thus her abortion wasn't evidence of prior criminal behavior. The appeal succeeded. The conviction was overturned and a new trial ordered. However, Hobbs' conviction and sentencing for Ellen Matson's death rendered this rather a moot point. Hobbs was also implicated, but never tried, for the 1917 abortion death of Ruth Lemaire.

Jennie Clark's body was found stuffed into a trunk in Lynn, Massachusetts on February 27, 1879. The trunk, lodged in shallow, icy water, was weighted down with several bricks and two empty champagne bottles. Dr. Caroline C. Goodrich, a Boston woman, was arrested as the abortionist. Dr. Daniel F. Kimball, who lived in the same house, was arrested as an accessory. Mr. Allen N. Adams, at whose house Jennie lived and worked as a servant, was arrested as secondary accessory, as were a mother and daughter living in the house where Jennie had died. Adams was said to be the person who arranged the fatal abortion. An investigation indicated that on February 12, 1879, Jennie left her home in the Highlands. She was seen shortly thereafter going into the home of Dr. Goodrich. The abortion was evidently perpetrated at Goodrich's practice. Jennie left on February 15 and went to the home where the mother and daughter cared for her. She delivered her dead fetus and seemed to be on the mend. She took a sudden turn for the worse and died on February 25. The guilty parties packed up the body into the trunk and dumped it.

Two Early 20th Century Chicago Deaths

Today's anniversaries have this much in common: They died in Chicago hospitals, and very little information is available regarding these tragedies.

On February 9, 1913, 30-year-old milliner Elizabeth Spalding died at Rhodes Avenue Hospital in Chicago of septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated that day by midwife Caroline Sandberg. Sandberg was tried but acquitted on July 9.

On February 24, 1919, 37-year-old homemaker Thea Newman died at Chicago's Norwegian American Hospital after an abortion perpetrated by a person whose identify was never revealed.

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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Bride Dead at Doctor Husband's Hands and Three Other Pre-Legalization Deaths

On February 14, 1943, Amelia Cardito, 34-year-old mother of 4, underwent an illegal abortion at the office of Dr. Anthony Renda. Amelia died nine days later in a New York hospital. Renda, author of three books on obstetrics, may have been a smart doctor, but he was a stupid crook. He implicated himself when he called police to complain that Amelia's widower, James, was shaking him down for $2,500 to cover hospital and funeral expenses. Police were able to observe Renda paying Cardito $1,000. Cardito didn't face any extortion charges, but Renda was sentenced to 7 years in Sing-Sing for Amelia's death. Amelia's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

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.
external image Abortion+Deaths+Since+1940.jpg

On February 23, 1928, 26-year-old waitress Martha Watson, a Wisconsin native, died in Chicago from an illegal abortion. The person or persons responsible were never identified or prosecuted.

On February 23, 1917, 28-year-old Miss Bertha Dombrowski, who worked as a maid, died at Chicago's Garfield Park Hospital from a uterine perforation caused by an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

Newlywed Helen Long died at her Chicago  home on February 23, 1916. Two doctors who had been providing care to her contacted the police. It seems that Helen and her husband, physician Lester Long, were dismayed by gossip about Helen's premature baby bump, so Lester had made three attempts to ward off the impending embarrassment, getting rid of the baby but also killing his wife. News coverage painted a pathetic picture of the young man, so distraught at his wife's death that it took the police five minutes to calm him down enough to tell him he was under arrest. He reportedly was seen while in jail pacing his cell, weeping and crying out, "Can she live? Can she live?" Lester was held by the Coroner and indicted by a Grand Jury on March 15, but the case never went to trial.

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, February 22, 2013

A Typical Pre-Legalization Death

On February 21, 1929, 26-year-old Virginia Clark died of complications of a botched, illegal abortion. G. W. Wilbanks and W. A. N. Jones were charged with murder in her death. Wilbanks was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and the following information comes from the Westlaw commentary on his appeal.

Virginia was treated prior to her death by a Dr. McArthur, who testified as to her dying declaration. He said that Virginia told him that when she learned that she was pregnant, she told the man responsible that "something would have to done about it." He made arrangements for an abortion to be performed by a doctor. The paramour brought the doctor to Virginia, and he used medicine and instruments on her. The procedure was so painful that Virginia asked him to stop, so the doctor administered chloroform. According to Dr. McArthur, Virginia told him that this abortion "was what had butchered her up and was killing her."

Virginia didn't tell her mother, Mrs. Goodwyne, about the abortion. Mrs. Goodwyne testified, "She (Virginia Clark) said that she went to the theatre [in Atlanta] or something, and it seemed like there was something broke, and she said she thought she wouldn't be able to get back to the hotel, but she did."

Wilbanks tried to get his conviction overturned on the grounds of the difference between what Virginia told her mother, and what she told Dr. McArthur as she lay dying.

Virginia's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

external image Illegals.png

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Confession about Carhart and Jennifer Morbelli

I had a conversation with a friend many years ago. He said he wasn't going to be able to leave town for a while because he had jury duty and was stuck at the courthouse every day "until we convict this guy."

I scolded him. "You haven't even heard all the evidence yet! How can you have made up your mind?"

Eddie told me, "The dude is unemployed. He's been unemployed for years. But he's sitting there in a $500 suit and $300 shoes and a $700 watch. He didn't buy those with unemployment checks. Of course the dude is dealing drugs!"

"But," I said, "Your job isn't to conclude that he's a drug dealer. Your job isn't to determine that in general he's just a guilty guy. It's to determine whether or not he committed the particular offense being brought before you."

Candid outdoor shot of an overweight middle-aged man with his hair going white in the front. He is wearing a suit and tie.
When I heard of Jennifer Morbelli's death, I was like my friend looking at the defendant in that courtroom. Of course LeRoy Carhart is guilty! The question is, "Guilty of what?" 

I have to be honest. I was crushed when the medical examiner found Jennifer Morbelli's cause of death to be amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC). AFE is rare, almost impossible to see coming, and stunningly lethal even with the best of care.

It wasn't what I wanted the medical examiner to find.

I wanted the medical examiner to find something more in keeping with all the nasty things abortionists have been caught doing -- something so glaringly appalling that there would be no making excuses any longer. I wanted desperately for the medical examiner to find a smoking gun, something that could be held up before the world as proof that the abortion glitteratzi don't vet their heroes beyond, "Hey, he does late abortions and says all the right things about why."

But the cause of death was AFE/DIC. It's possible, therefore, that the abortion lobby's perception is, in this case, correct -- that (conceding that he meant well in doing the abortion) Carhart did nothing wrong. And there's something wrong in me in that I hate that.

I leaped onto the story with both feet, ready to slam Carhart with blame, ready to assume he'd been spectacularly incompetent and/or negligent. And I'm pissed off.  I'm like my friend in the courtroom looking at that perp. Come on! Look at the guy! He's clearly guilty!

What the hell is wrong with me, that a lack of spectacular incompetence and/or negligence is a source of disappointment?

I feel like I have too much in common with the vultures who perched waiting until Rosie Jimenez died. Just waiting for a corpse I could hang around the necks of the evil-doers. Waiting for a chance to pounce and scream, "SEE? This is what you people do! You KILL WOMEN!"

And I'm running away from being angry with myself. I don't want to be angry with myself. I don't want to remind myself to think the best of people and to start with the assumption that Jennifer had just been a victim of the truth that all surgery has risks. That would involve .. I can't even make myself say "Thinking the best of Carhart." I don't want to have a single positive thought about Carhart.

I'm embarrassed and ashamed of how eagerly I wanted to just slam Carhart. I was more invested in wanting to smack down Carhart's admirers than I was in finding out the truth.

I wanted so badly for this to break trust between Carhart and his supporters. Instead it made us seem even less trustworthy.

Part of me still screams out, "It's unfair! They don't vet their heroes." I'm outraged that their faith in him appears vindicated. That our distrust of him appears utterly baseless.

I'm pissed off that facts and truth seem to be so much at odds here. How can facts ever allow that man to come out smelling like roses? I feel betrayed. I feel like I was set up -- even as I know that I walked into it all of my own free will rather than waiting for all the facts to come out.

So here I sit, simultaneously ashamed and outraged. Ashamed that I wanted him to have done wrong, rather than being relieved that -- in this case at least -- he evidently didn't. And hey, maybe he cleaned up his act! Maybe Christin Gilbert's death made him decide to be more careful in the future. Wouldn't that be a good thing? Shouldn't I be happy?

Yet I'm not. I seem to have Carhart Derangement Syndrome.Just like the liberals who don't want to believe a single non-hideous thing about George W. Bush or Sarah Palin, I don't want to believe a single non-hideous thing about LeRoy Carhart.

I'm so at war with myself here it's not funny.

I'd like to conclude with wisdom, to say that I've learned the error of my ways and will be more careful to vet my conclusions in the future. Which (I hope) I will. I've done it in other situations. Why should it be so hard to do it in situations where the abortionist is somebody that I hold a special grudge against, and who is a particular darling of the abortion lobby?

I'd be so much more credible, after all, if I consistently said, "Okay, we know that a woman died, but let's remember we don't have all the facts yet. Maybe she died of food poisoning or  bee sting or something."

At any rate, pray for me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Abortion Deaths: What Has Changed?

When 23-year-old Stacy Ruckman had just gotten a new job when she went to Scott Barrett for a safe and legal abortion on February 20, 1988. Unfortunately, she didn't know how he anesthetized his patients at Central Health Center for Women in Springfield, Missouri. Barrett had developed the technique of deliberately overdosing his patients with lidocaine, a local anesthetic, in order to effectively render them unconscious. From time to time, Barrett's assistants said, a woman would stop breathing, but Barrett would be able to resuscitate her. He failed in Stacy's case. Her father requested an autopsy, which found toxic concentrations of Lidocaine in Stacy's blood. An expert who testified later estimated that, based on how fast the body metabolizes Lidocaine, the amount in her system at the time of the abortion could have been as high as 16 ug/ml, over ten times the therapeutic dose.

On February 20, 1927, 23-year-old Angenita Hargarten died in her home from an abortion performed there that day. Midwives Anna Trezek and Frances Raz were held by the coroner, Trezek as the principal and Raz as her accomplice.

Ada Williams, about 27 years old, was living in Denver in early 1916 when she got a letter from her mother in Nebraska. Nearly 50, Ada's mother was going to give birth soon and feared that she might die in childbirth, so she asked Ada to come to her. Ada, pregnant herself, decided to have an abortion before she left in order to facilitate the journey. With her husband, Thomas, she went to Dr. Noble O. Hamilton (pictured) for the abortion. Over the course of several days she sickened, finally taking to her bed, where she labored and delivered a dead three-month fetus. She sent for Hamilton, who wrapped the dead baby in paper and burned it in the stove. He gave aftercare instructions and left. As Ada's condition deteriorated, Hamilton called in another doctor but at kept the abortion a secret from him. This second doctor got Ada to tell him the truth. He admitted her to a hospital, where she died of sepsis the evening of Sunday, February 20. When convicted and sentenced to ten to eleven years, Hamilton swore his innocence.

The Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database indicates that on February 20, 1916, 19-year-old Bertha Carlson died at South Park Hospital in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion.

Mrs. Ida Prochnow, a 35-year-old German-born homemaker, died in St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Chicago on February 19, 1906, from septicemia caused by an abortion performed earlier that day. Midwife Maggie or Madaline Motgna was arrested in the death.

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.

external image MaternalMortality.gif
An inquest was held in the February 20, 1856 death of Catharine DeBreuxal. A witness testified that Catharine suffered "a violent hemorrhage" at Dr. Cobel's house, where she had remained for a few days. The medical examiner concluded that Catharine had died from an infection. "An effort was made by the defense to show that the deceased was a woman's bad character; but the evidence on that point was not admitted on account of its irrevalence." The coroner's jury called for the arrest of Cobel, as well as of Francis Legoupil, as an accessory.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Legal and Illegal, Sixty Years Apart

Magnolia Thomas was a 35-year-old mother of two when she went to Hedd Surgi-Center in Chicago for a safe, legal abortion, performed by Rudolph Moragne on February 19, 1986. Moragne failed to note that the fetus was growing in Magnolia's fallopian tube, rather than in her uterus. After Magnolia was discharged from the clinic, the undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy ruptured, and Magnolia was rushed to the hospital. There, doctors did everything they could to save her, but she died from blood loss and shock on February 19, 1986. Another patient, Diane Watson, died of anesthesia compliations after she'd undergone a safe, legal abortion by Moragne at Hedd.

On February 19, 1916, homemaker Mary Peckman, age 24, died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. She refused to name her killer.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Three Historic Criminal Deaths

On February 18, 1916, Mrs. Beulah Hatch, age 24, died at Mercy Hospital in Denver. Dr. Bennett Graff, already out on bond while awaiting trial for the February 2 abortion death of Ruth Camp, was believed to have perpetrated the abortion that likely killed Beulah. Both women, in fact, were in Mercy Hospital at the same time, which means that Beulah's abortion must have been perpetrated prior to Ruth's death.

At about 2:00 p.m. on February 18, 1883, Kittie O'Toole died at the office of Dr. C. H. Orton in Milwaukee. Ortin was convicted of double murder -- of Kittie and of her unborn baby -- for having perpetrated the fatal abortion.

In August of 1859, the two Calkins sisters, age 16 and 18, moved to Brooklyn to live in the boarding house of Mrs. Young. The elder, Cordelia Calkins, took up with the landlady's son, Charles, "which resulted in the girl's ruin and death." In mid February, 1860, Cordelia discovered that she was pregnant, and prevailed upon Charles to help arrange an abortion. Charles asked his brother William to buy a bottle of oil of tansy. Cordelia started a regimen of the tansy, while Charles made "other efforts of abortion", which succeeded in making her very sick. "For several days she was confined to her bed, suffering the most intense physical pain." Cordelia's condition continued to deteriorate. Dr. H.W. Fowler, who had an office nearby, was summoned. He found out about the abortion attempt and administered witch-hazel and ginger tea to finish off the abortion, thinking that this would save Cordelia's life. "The decoction, however, while it added to her sufferings, did not answer the purpose for which it had been administered, and after lingering in great agony till Sunday afternoon, death came to her release." Don't blame the legal status of abortion for Cordelia's decision to go herbal -- some women continue to embrace herbal abortion. (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Four Criminal Deaths, 1890 - 1239

On February 16, 1929, Mrs. Ruth Weir, of East Orange, New Jersey, died at Orange Memorial Hospital of sepsis contracted through a criminal abortion. Dr. Maurice Sturm was arrested when Ruth implicated him in a deathbed statement. Sturm admitted to performing the abortion, but insisted that it had not been illegal because it was necessary to save Ruth's life. The District Attorney claimed that Sturm failed to keep proper records, including concealing names and appointments of patients. Sturm, who was later acquitted of the manslaughter charge in Ruth's death, alleged during his trial that a judge had demanded bribe money from him to dismiss the case, but that $1000 he had given the judge was a gift and not part of the bribe money. This case raises several important points we would do well to remember:
  • The majority of criminal abortions were performed by physicians, not amateurs.
  • If the doctor thought the abortion was necessary to save the mother's life, all he had to do to protect himself from prosecution was keep adequate records.
  • When an abortionist killed a patient before legalization, the law would look at him closely and not shrug the death off as unimportant.

On February 16, 1925, 28-year-old homemaker Agnes Crowe died in Chicago's West Side Hospital from a criminal abortion performed that day. The coroner indicated that a female midwife was responsible for Agnes' death, but did not name the guilty party.

The testimony E. G. Noah gave to the Allegheny County coroner's jury did little to clarify the circumstances surrounding the death of his 34-year-old wife, Helen Noah. He testified about bleeding, a catheter, and things his wife had told him and that he had observed over the course of several days prior to finally summoning an ambulance and admitting her to Pittsburgh's Presbyterian Hospital on February 9. There she was treated for massive infection until her death at 2:58 p.m. On February 16, 1917. Evidently the coroner's jury was able to make enough sense of Mr. Noah's testimony to conclude that Helen died of “Puerpueral Septicemia Following Self Inflicted Abortion.”

On February 16, 1890, Mrs. Mary Keegan died from complications of an illegal abortion performed that day. Mary died at the location where the abortion was perpetrated. Mrs. Annie Schneider was arrested and held by the Coroner's Jury. She is described as employed in an unidentified profession.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Four Deaths Over the Decades

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. After the abortion, Doris was bleeding, and her fallopian was tube removed due to ectopic pregnancy. Her bleeding persisted. On February 15, an emergency hysterectomy was performed to attempt to stop the bleeding. Doris went into cardiac arrest and died during surgery.

Wealthy college students Nina Harding (pictured, left) and Logan Pierce suddenly ran away to Chicago and were married in a private ceremony. They took up lodging in a small furnished room. Four days later, late in the evening of Valentine's Day of 1925, Logan took a gravely ill Nina 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.  Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dorris, Abbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, and the Chicago abortion deaths of Minnie Deering, Sophia Kuhn, Emily Anderson, Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter, and Mary Moorehead.

On May 28, 1920, Dr. E. Anderson was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Mrs. Margaret Ann Marts. He was a practicing physician in Kansas City, Missouri. On January 19, 1920, the family physician, Dr. Davis, was called to examine Mrs. Marts. She'd stopped menstruating about six weeks earlier, had concluded that she was pregnant, and had attempted to perform an abortion on herself with a catheter. She said that if Dr. Davis didn't do an abortion, she'd find somebody else who would because she'd rather die than give birth again. In  order to divert Mrs. Marts away from the idea of trying to abort, he told her that she wasn't pregnant. Refusing to do the abortion is right, as would be pointing out to his patient the evils inherent in the act, but a flat out lie is not ethical.. On January 20, Mrs. Marts placed a call to the home of her some friends who came over to assist and found a Dr. Anderson in the kitchen preparing his instruments. (Home surgery was not uncommon then.) One of the women helped with administering the chloroform. Four days later, Dr. Davis was called in to examine Mrs. Marts, who had taken to her bed and was expelling a foul-smelling mix of blood and pus. Dr. Davis found damage to her uterus, clearly from an abortion, and treated her for her infection. She was taken to the hospital on January 24 or 25. She told her husband that she was sure she was dying, and that  she was sorry she'd gone to Anderson. For some reason she was discharged from the hospital Mrs. Marts died in her home on February 15, 1920. Anderson  was tried for Mrs. Marts' death. The jury found him guilty, and he was fined $500.

On February 15, 1917, 28-year-old homemaker Marie Benzing died at Chicago Union Hospital from septicemia caused by 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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Two Valentine's Day Tragedies for Social Opposites

On February 14, 1942, socialite Florence Nimick Schnoor, age 24, died at St. Joseph's Hospital in New York of what the coroner called a "brutal and inept" illegal abortion.Florence, grand-niece of Andrew Carnegie and heiress to a Pittsburgh steel fortune, had eloped with Richard H. Schnoor, sergeant-at-arms of the New York State Assembly, one week earlier. The couple had met the previous September at "a fashionable Greenwich tavern." After their elopement, they'd moved into Florence's rooms at The Maples. Her husband reported that he had taken her to White Plains so she could catch a train to New York for a day's shopping. Later that morning, she called and asked him to pick her up at the station. He found her obviously ill and asking for a doctor. He took her straight to the hospital, where she died three hours later.Doctors reported that Florence refused to discuss her case at all, much less implicate the abortionist, despite pleas from her husband. Investigators contacted all 200 people whose names were in Florence's address book, but were unable to gain any clues as to who perpetrated the fatal abortion. All they were able to piece together is that Florence paid $40 for the abortion.Florence's husband was not implicated in her death; police believed that he had not even known Florence was pregnant.

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.
external image Abortion+Deaths+Since+1940.jpg

Edrica Goode went to a Planned Parenthood in Riverside, California, on January 31, 2007, for a safe, legal second-trimester abortion. She was a little over 14 weeks pregnant. A nurse there inserted laminaria to dilate Edrica's cervx, although Edrica had symptoms of a vaginal infection, at the time. Laminaria are sticks of seaweed that absorb moisture and expand, so they would wick any bacteria or viruses from the vagina into the uterus. Edrica, who had not told her family about the abortion, did not return to the facility to have the laminaria removed and the abortion completed because her mental state had deteriorated overnight. She had became feverish, her mother said. She became mentally "confused and disoriented," not knowing what day it was, and started acting aggressively. She also began vomiting. Planned Parenthood's patient profile for Edrica said that they mailed Edrica two letters telling her that she had to return and have the laminaria removed, but Edrica's mother said that the letters never arrived. She does indicate that Planned Parenthood called, but that Edrica was too sick to take the calls. Edrica's family took her to Riverside County Regoinal Medical Center on February 4. A blood test there revealed the pregnancy to the physicians, but the hospital did not perform a pelvic exam because at the time Edrica was unable to consent to the examination due to confusion and inappropriate speech. Edrica was treated in the medical ward for five days, then transferred to a psychiatric unit, which promptly sent her back to the medical unit to have them check her for possible sepsis. There, her condition continued to deteriorate. After Edrica's boyfriend told her family about the visit to Planned Parenthood, staff at the hospital performed a pelvic examination and discovered the laminaria, along with some gauze. Edrica miscarried that day, and died the next day, Valentine's Day.

Edrica is the third known death among Planned Parenthood patients in California in the last four years. Holly Patterson, 18, died of an infection after an RU-486 abortion in 2003. Diana Lopez, 25, bled to death in 2002 after her cervix was punctured during the procedure.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Three Historic Deaths: 1858, 1897, and 1929

When Jemima Beneway's family and friends saw her off at the Poughkeepsie train station on February 4, 1858, they thought she was going to Norwich, Connecticut to get married. Little did they know that she'd return in a coffin on February 15. Her friends reported their suspicions to the authorities, who conducted an inquest and determined that Jemima had died on February 13 from an abortion arranged by her lover, John Olmstead, and perpetrated by Dr. Milton Gray. However, given the state of medicine, the treatments Gray provided during Jemima's final illness are probably what really killed her.

On January 13, 1897, 28-year-old Oxford Mills school teacher Clara Belle "Belle" Sutliff had been in her sickbed since mid-winter, so she sent for Dr. F. E. Cook. Once alone with Cook, she explained how she had come to her illness. Two years earlier she had gone to Dr. Lacy Kindred Bobo to be treated for measles. Bobo, a married man, began an affair with Belle when she came to his office to pay her bill. In the late fall of 1896, Belle told Bobo that she was pregnant. He had used both drugs and an instrument to try to cause an abortion. Cook began treating Belle, admonishing her not to take any more of the abortifacients, which Will stashed in his trunk. As the days passed, Belle doubted she would recover and decided to tell her story in a 16-page declaration naming Bobo both as the father of her baby and the father of her mortal illness. Despite treatment by two doctors, Belle's condition deteriorated. In her final days she had a nurse caring for her, and Belle again told her story. Gradually, Belle’s organs failed one by one, and her heart stopped at 2:15 a.m. on February 12. Nurse Mary Chapman was with her till the end, as were her brother and sister. In spite of the evidence and Bobo's admission that he was indeed having an affair with Belle, he was popular in the community and hired a large prestigious legal team and was acquitted.

Anna Fazio, age 20, underwent an illegal abortion performed about February 2, 1929, at the Chicago home of midwife Marie Zwienczak. Anna died on February 13. Zwienczak was arrested March 1, as recommended by the coroner. Stephanie Paczkiewicz was booked on February 23 as an accessory, but was not mentioned in the verdict. Zwienczak was indicted for homicide by a grand jury. She was tried, and was sentenced on June 20 to 14 years at Joliet Penitentiary.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Seven Abortion Deaths, 1861 - 1992

During early 1861, Dr. John H. Joecken was caring for Mr. Malinken, who was ailing in his Brooklyn home. On one of his visits, Malinken's 35-year-old wife, Caroline Malinken, approached Joecken privately and told him "she did not want to have so many children, and wished to know if it was possible to get rid of her present burthen. The doctor replied that it was the easiest thing imaginable, and that in eight days all would be over." Joecken set to work on Caroline, "and by the use of drugs as well as instruments succeeded in making her very sick." Over the course of several days her condition deteriorated. She died late Monday night, February 11. Joecken was arrested.

>On February 11, 1879, 65-year-old Henry Sammis of Northport, Long Island, got a dispatch to go to Brooklyn immediately. His daughter, 21-year-old Cora Sammis, a Sunday School teacher from Northport, Long Island, was deathly ill. About halfway to New York on the train, he got a copy of the morning paper. There he read that his daughter had already died from the results of a botched abortion. He waited until they got to New York to break the news to his wife. Cora's aunt, Mary D. Betts, testified that Cora and her "alleged seducer," Frank Cosgrove, had met at her house and from there went to the home of 35-year-old Bertha Berger. About two hours after they arrived at the house, Berger perpetrated the abortion. Cora was to convalesce there but instead grew increasingly ill. Cosgrove, who sat up with Cora every night, grew more and more worried. He found an ad for Dr. Whitehead, who advertised that he practiced midwifery, and offered him $100 to take over Cora's care. Upon examining Cora, Whitehead found that she had a raging fever from a uterine infection. He declared that the case was hopeless. Berger offered him $50 to provide a death certificate but on the advice of his attorney Whitehead refused, instead notifying the authorities. Police came to Berger's house to question Cora, who was told that she was dying. With frequent rests she was able to give a deathbed statement, occasionally stopping "to lament her unhappy fate." Berger, who had been sentenced to 12 years, got her sentence reduced to five years.

On February 11, 1905, 17-year-old Leona Loveless died in the Ischua, New York home of Dayton M. Hibler, where she had been working as a domestic for two years. She had gotten the job with the assistance of her grandmother, but over her father's objections. Rumors immediately began circulating that she had died as the result of an abortion, and that Hibler was responsible. When word of the rumors reached his hears, Hibler took his shotgun out to the barn, first wounding himself in the chest, then successfully finishing himself off with a blast to the head.

On February 11, 1916, 42-year-old Eva Krakonowicz died in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated that day by midwife Agnes Dzugas. Dzugas was held by the coroner and indicted by a Grand Jury on February 1, but the case never went to trial.

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.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

On January 24, 1985, Ruth Ravenelle got a phone call from St. Luke's Hospital in New York. Her 13-year-old daughter, Dawn Ravenelle, was "fighting for her life." Ruth said, "I was going, 'How can she be fighting for her life? She left for school this morning, looking healthy, never been sick.'" It was then that Ruth was told that with the help of her school, Dawn had arranged a 21-week abortion at Eastern Women's Center. Dawn's 15-year-old boyfriend had paid for the abortion with a family member's credit card. Dawn wasn't given a proper dose of anesthesia and began coughing and choking during the abortion. The doctor, Allen Kline, inserted a breathing tube and went off to do other abortions. Dawn, left unattended, slipped into a coma. "While I was there at the hospital -- they were doing tests -- I had to keep my hand pressed over my mouth to keep from screaming in horror. I kept going, 'This is all a bad dream. I am going to wake up and this will not have happened.'" The family sat by Dawn's bedside for three weeks, playing music and talking to her, but she died on February 11 without ever regaining consciousness.

DaNette Pergusson, a 19-year-old medical assistant, submitted to a safe, legal abortion on February 11, 1992, at the hands of Robert Tarnis of Phoenix, Arizona.During the abortion, DaNette stopped breathing, and paramedics were summoned. The Maricopa County deputy medical examiner determined that DaNette died from a pulmonary embolism.

A 1995 Death I Only Just Learned About

When 24-year-old Ta Tanisha Wesson went to Family Planning Associates Medical Group in the Los Angeles area on January 26, 1995 for a safe, legal abortion, she brought a friend with her, Mickey Gaton.

Mickey had been sitting in the waiting room for several hours when she saw an ambulance approach. Though staff knew that Mickey had come with Ta Tanisha, she said, they didn't tell her anything about complications.

Somehow Mickey found out that it was her friend being loaded into the ambulance. She called Ta Tanisha's parents, Lin and Nicole Wesson, who rushed to the facility.

There, Ta Tanisha's father said, they were unable to get any information about their daughter from the staff. "Everything was done in secrecy," he said.

Ta Tanisha was taken to the hospital, never regaining consciousness. She died on February 1, leaving behind a five-year-old son, David, motherless.

Her parents sued, saying that Ta Tanisha was given too much anesthetic. Their attorney said, "We are claiming negligence by the clinic staff who were not present when she began vomiting and ultimately delayed 20-25 minutes before calling for emergency help."

Other women who died from abortions perpetrated at Family Planning Associates include:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Unusual Case from 1957: Veterinarian Perpetrates Fatal Abortion

On February 10, 1957, veterinarian Ira Ledbetter performed an abortion on 38-year-old Alice Kimberly. Ledbetter used a veterinary instrument called a milk tube on Alice, causing lacerations and an embolism. A milk tube is a cannula with a bulb syringe attached, which sounds very much like the early abortion device popularized by Harvey Karman. Alice quickly died of her injuries, leaving her husband with five minor children to raise alone.

Ledbetter had picked Alice up at her home about 1:00 p.m. on February 10, and drove around with her for about two hours, "making intermittent stops," before driving up to a mortuary in Coldwater and announcing that he'd found a dead woman lying by the side of the road and had her body in his car. Agnes Swarmer, the mortuary attendant, contacted the Dr. McCoy, the county coroner, who summoned the sheriff.

Alice's body was slumped over in the front seat of Ledbetter's car. Upon taking her temperature, McCoy estimated that Alice had been dead for about an hour.There appeared to be fresh blood on the front seat and on the right front and back doors and windows. Lying on Ledbetter's coat on the back seat was the milk tube, which he said he'd used on a cow several days earlier. Just in front of the rear seat was a broken jug of ice.

Upon autopsy, McCoy found a lot of frothy blood in the pulmonary arteries, clear evidence of a massive air embolism. Death, he concluded, would have been almost instantaneous. Alice had been about ten to twelve weeks pregnant, with the placenta torn lose. McCoy concluded that somebody with enough skill not to have injured Alice's cervix -- and thus not Alice herself -- had used the milk tube to put air between the placenta and the uterine wall, causing the fatal embolism.

Laboratory tests found that the blood was Alice's blood type, A, and was on the inside tip of the milk tube, on Alice's slip, on Ledbetter's trousers, and on the interior of the car.

Ledbetter, age 65, appealed his conviction. He was offered release on $10,000 bond pending appeal after being convicted of first-degree manslaughter in Alice's death, but the court upheld his conviction.

Alice's abortion was unusual in that it was not preformed by a physician, as was by far the most typical scenario. Still, it was performed by somebody with medical training, which was unusual but still more common than amateur or self-induced abortions.

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

Saturday, February 09, 2013

1911: Midwife's Fatal Work in Chicago

On February 9, 1911, 47-year-old homemaker Elizabeth Martin died at German American Hospital in Chicago from sepsis caused by of an abortion perpetrated at 1310 Eddy Street.

Mrs. Schutner, identified as a midwife (which means she might have been an obstetrician) was held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted, but the case never went to trial.

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.

external image Illegals.png

Friday, February 08, 2013

NAF Member LeRoy Carhart Just Killed Patient in Maryland

UPDATE: Carhart's victims have been identified as Jennifer McKenna-Morbelli and her unborn daughter, Madison Leigh.

The Centers for Disease Control published a study on abortion deaths back in 1983, when medical science wasn't even as advanced as it is today.  In every hemorrhage death they investigated, "Lack of adequate postoperative monitoring or treatment of hemorrhagic shock" was a factor. The CDC's article noted, "Deaths from hemorrhage can be eliminated by preventing uterine trauma during abortion and by rapidly diagnosing and treating hemorrhage if it occurs." Their conclusion:

"Deaths from hemorrhage associated with legal induced abortion should not occur."

That's not something the prolifers were insisting. That's the Centers for Disease Control. Keep that in mind. Because the "hero"  Dr. Leroy Carhart evidently failed to keep it in mind.

"Natalie" was 29 years old and 33 weeks pregnant when she went to Carhart's late-term abortion facility in Germantown, Maryland on Sunday, February 3, 2013. Germantown Reproductive Health Services is a National Abortion Federation member facility, which means that it supposedly provides only the best and safest care.

naflogo.jpgThe prolifers who gather outside when Carhart is perpetrating abortions report seeing the woman arriving for her appointments on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, appearing "pale and weak."

According to Operation Rescue's anonymous source, Natalie started suffering chest pain early on Thursday morning. She was unsuccessful in her attempts to reach Carhart. Finally, at about 5:00 a.m. her family took her from the hotel to the emergency room. Hospital staff were unable to get in touch with Carhart either.

The woman was suffering from massive internal bleeding and coded six times as staff struggled to stabilize her. She finally died at around 9:30 a.m.

This is the second third-trimester abortion patient to die under Carhart's care. The first was Christin Gilbert, who was being treated by Carhart at George Tiller's Wichita abortion facility in 2004.

Current sources:

Late-term **abortion** kills pregnant mother
Human Events - ‎4 hours ago‎
There hasn't been much Big Media coverage for the death of a 29-year-old pregnant woman during a botched 33rd-week abortion under the knife of late-term abortion superstar Dr. LeRoy Carhart, at his clinic in Maryland. Thus far, the only information about ...

**Carhart** patient dead from horrific 33-Week **abortion** injuries
ProLife Blogs (blog) - ‎6 hours ago‎
A 29-year old woman died yesterday as the result of fatal complications suffered during an abortion at 33 weeks that was done by LeRoy Carhart at Germantown Reproductive Health Center in Germantown, Maryland. Information about the incident comes ...

Woman Dies After Botched 33-Week **Abortion** Takes Her Life - ‎8 hours ago‎
A 29-year old woman died yesterday as the result of fatal complications suffered during an abortion at 33 weeks. Late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart (left) performed the abortion at the Germantown Reproductive Health Center in Germantown, ...

Botched late-term **abortion** leaves mother dead
World Magazine - ‎2 hours ago‎
Operation Rescue reports a 29-year-old woman died Thursday after Maryland abortionist LeRoy Carhart botched her third-trimester abortion. Citing an anonymous source, the group says the woman, who was 33 weeks pregnant, arrived from out of state and ...

Late-Term **Abortion** Death in Maryland: Time for Maryland to take action against **...**
Family Research Council (blog) - ‎6 hours ago‎
The abortion was performed by Dr. LeRoy Carhart. Carhart, former associate of late-term abortionist George Tiller, was recently hailed a “hero” in the film “After Tiller” at the Sundance Film Festival. Carhart was the abortionist who performed a late-term ...

Operation Rescue: Another death at hands of abortionist
OneNewsNow - ‎4 hours ago‎
Another patient of late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart has died, spawning an outcry and a demand for a formal probe. Carhart, based in Omaha, Nebraska, also flies to Germantown, Maryland, where a woman from out of state arrived Sunday to begin the ...

Sundance Film Festival 'HERO' **Leroy Carhart** Kills Young Woman During 3rd **...**
Christian News Wire (press release) - ‎9 hours ago‎
8, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- A 29 year-old woman was pronounced dead at a local hospital in Germantown, MD on Thursday, February 7th, as a direct result of complications experienced during a 3rd trimester abortion by LeRoy Carhart -- who was hailed ...

Pro-Life Groups Will Hold Press Conference Friday to Announce Major Breaking **...**
Christian News Wire (press release) - ‎21 hours ago‎
Pro-Life Groups Will Hold Press Conference Friday to Announce Major Breaking News Concerning Late-term Abortions Conducted by LeRoy Carhart. Contact: Troy Newman, President, Operation Rescue/Pro-Life Nation,  316-841-1700 ; Michael Martelli, ...

Both Ends of the Pre-Legal Spectrum: Self-Induced and Doctor's Work

On February 8, 1919, Ruth Fragale, a 20-year-old clerk, died at her home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Clesta M. Cochran, and her sister, Delorous F. Mischler, said that Ruth had taken ill on Sunday. Because Ruth had gotten much sicker, Clesta sent for Dr. Thomas C. VanHorne on February 4. He was caring for her, with her mother and her sister by her side, when she told him that she'd used instruments on herself to try to cause an abortion on February 1 and 2 after an attempt about two weeks earlier had failed. VanHorne continued to attend to Ruth daily until peritonitis finally killed her, leaving her husband, Frank, widowed.

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

In November of 1967, 19-year-old Nancy Ward, a student at the University of Oklahoma, told her boyfriend, Fred, that she was pregnant and wanted an abortion. Fred contacted his father for help. On January 30, 1968, Fred's father contacted osteopath Dr. Richard Mucie at his ear, nose, and throat clinic in Kansas City and made arrangements. On February 7, Nancy and Fred flew from Oklahoma to Kansas City. At 11 p.m., Mucie called and arranged to pick them up and drive them to his clinic. He took Nancy back for the back room while Fred waited in the outer office. Mucie came out about every half hour to change the music on the phonograph, but didn't speak to Fred until about 7:30 on the morning of February 8, when he came out and asked Fred if he wanted to come back and see Nancy. Fred went with Mucie into the office and saw Nancy lying on a couch with a cover over her. Fred said, "Hello," to her, and though Nancy didn't speak, she smiled and moved her hand. Mucie told Fred that Nancy was still sedated. Fred went back to the waiting room to nap. He was awakened at about 11:30 by Mucie's porter. Mucie told Fred that Nancy had suffered a heart attack and was in shock and had been taken to the hospital. Mucie came out a few minutes later, told him that Nancy had died, and that they needed to stick to the story that the couple had been traveling through Kansas City and had called him because Nancy had started to have chest pains. Nancy's body was taken to the morgue, where a detective observed the autopsy, noting needle marks on her arms, buttocks, and left breast and taking custody of the uterus and the skull and upper spine of a fetus of roughly 4 1/2 to 5 months gestation still in the uterus. Most of the remainder of the fetus, consisting of a shoulder blade, upper arm and shoulder joint, and part of a collar bone, was found in the trash at Mucie's clinic. The autopsy found abundant evidence of the abortion, including stains from antiseptic on Nancy's upper thighs and genital area, a 1/2 inch tear in Nancy's uterus. The condition of her uterus, heart, and other organs indicated that she had gone into shock and died at the clinic at about 9 a.m. February 8, in spite of Mucie's attempts to resuscitate her. She had bled to death. Mucie was convicted on June 8, 1968, of performing an abortion "not necessary to preserve the life" of the mother. He served 14 months then was released on parole. Parole was set to expire on July 27, 1977. His medical license was revoked on May 4, 1971. After Roe v. Wade overturned Missouri's abortion law, Mucie successfully appealed his conviction and got his license restored under a ruling that made Roe retroactive in Missouri. He was released from probation and his record expunged of the manslaughter-abortion conviction. Robert Dale Crist, who would later go on to kill three of his own abortion patients, was one of the people who testified in Mucie's behalf to get his conviction thrown out and his license restored.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Historic death from 1871. How Have Things Changed?

On February 11, 1871, Dr. C. C. O'Donnell was arrested for murder in the death of 20-year-old mother and homemaker. Addie Hand of Clemtina Street, San Francisco. Addie had died at her home on February 7.

"She was buried on a certificate that she had died of a congestive chill. The publicity given to startling rumors concerning her death led to the body being exhumed, when an examination disclosed the fact that an abortion had been preformed."

An inquest found that she had visited O'Donnell twice before her death. Addie's friend Jennie West testified that Addie had told her that O'Donnell had made two attempts to perform an abortion on her. Her sister-in-law also said that Addie had named O'Donnell as the abortionist. O'Donnell was arrested. However, there was insufficient evidence to hold him, and O'Donnell was released.

Addie's death follows a fairly typical pattern for pre-legalization abortion deaths: The woman went to a doctor based on a referral from a friend or relative. After her death, the doctor falsified a death certificate and arranged burial. Through the rumor mill or somebody's specific knowledge or suspicions the police would be notified, the body exhumed, and the real cause of death uncovered.

How does this differ from the current safe-and-legal scenario?

Before legalization, there were times and places where abortionists ran very thinly veiled advertisements. In other times and places, women relied on word of mouth. Now, the internet and yellow pages are awash with open advertisements for abortion.

The reliance on doctors has not changed.

The death certificates are still fudged, both to avoid bringing on an investigation of shoddy practices, and to avoid having the death counted and thus become a political problem.

There is no longer a police investigation or court ordered exhumation and autopsy, since abortion deaths are now a civil matter rather than a criminal one.

And that is the final, biggest difference. An abortionist in the safe-and-legal era has more leeway for quackery because the stakes are lower. Getting caught botching abortions might be bad for business -- but not for long. And unless there was egregious behavior, criminal charges are virtually unheard of.

So it's the doctors, rather than the patients, that benefited the most from legalization.