Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fatal Abortions over the Years

Dusan Zivkovic and/or V. Perez had performed a safe and legal abortion on 35-year-old Brenda Benton at the notorious Biogenetics abortion mill in Chicago on March 13, 1987. She was placed under general anesthesia for the abortion. After she was discharged, Brenda developed fever, chills, and back pain. Brenda returned to Biogenetics to report these symptoms on March 27, and Zivkovic examined her and performed a D&C before transferring her to Martha Washington Hospital. There, Zivkovic called in other doctors for a consult. They then transferred Brenda to Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's hospital on April 6. She died there on April 20. Her death was due to infection and "overwhelming septicemia." "Susanna Chisolm" and Synthia Dennard also died after abortions at Biogenetics.

On April 20, 1938, 30-year-old Mrs. Doris Alexander died from an illegal abortion in San Francisco. Police concluded that the fatal abortion had been perpetrated on April 13. Dr. Clinton E. May, who had also crossed paths with the law when he harbored John Dillinger, was booked for murder in Doris' death. A nurse-assistant was sought by the police, and a man named Frances Zofell, age 48, was held as an accessory. May and Zoffell were convicted, May of second-degree murder, Zofell of conspiracy.

Vintage abortion pills
In February of 1933, a 22-year-old unmarried store clerk, "Nina" Roe, informed her boyfriend that she was pregnant, and he got her some pills supposed to cause an abortion, but they didn't work. In March, the boyfriend got a drug called "duray." Nina took some in March and the rest on April 3 or 4, but this still didn't produce the desired abortion. On April 8, Nina went to a nursing home operated by a nurse to ask about an abortion. The nurse provided information that enabled the boyfriend to arrange for Dr. E. T. Martin to do the abortion. Dr. Martin then told Nina's boyfriend that the total fee, including a stay at the nursing home until Saturday night, would be $75. On Friday the 14th, Dr. Martin performed a curettage on Nina to remove the fetus. The nurse claimed that she had no idea what Dr. Martin was planning to do. >After the D&C, Nina became alarmingly ill. Dr. Martin said that he himself was not in proper physical condition to care for the patient, so he summoned a Dr. Templeton, who evidently cared for Nina at the nursing home until April 19, a Wednesday, when he advised staff to transfer Nina to Virginia Mason hospital. She died the following morning. Dr. Martin said that Nina had told him she'd missed three periods, taken abortifacients, had fallen, and had a chronic bowel condition. Dr. Martin testified that he'd recommended hospitalization, but that Nina wanted to avoid the possible publicity surrounding a hospitalization. It was then that he'd decided to send her to the nursing home instead. He also testified that she'd been bleeding from the 12th until the 14th, when he'd performed a curettage. He said that this curettage was necessary to treat her fever and bleeding. Dr. Martin was convicted of manslaughter in Nina's death, but the nurse was acquitted.
On April 20, 1912, 19-year-old actress Ruth Fox died at her Chicago residence from septic peritonitis caused by an abortion perpetrated, possibly there and on that day, by Frank J. Schwartz, whose profession is not given. He was arrested and held by the Coroner on may 2, and indicted by a Grand Jury on November 25, 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

1 comment:

Janet said...

So many suboptimal centers are harming women. Thank you for bringing this to light. Abortion may be legal but it is not legally safe!