Saturday, June 01, 2013

Three Criminal Deaths and Lessons for a Post-Roe Future

Mary Ellen Legge, a 24-year-old department store clerk, died June 1, 1938, from a criminal abortion. Otto Lucy, an Oklahoma City psychiatrist and teacher, was sentenced to 25 years after pleading guilty in her death. He had charged Mary Ellen $75 for the fatal abortion. A practical nurse, Ella Hartin, admitted to helping Lucy perform the abortion. She said that Lucy had frequently brought his abortion patients to her home. While he was out on bail pending disposition of this case, he performed the fatal abortion on Goldie Crow. Though he was not a licensed physician, he is listed in the phone book as "Dr. Otto C. Lucy."

Part of preventing the deaths of women like Mary Ellen and Goldie would of course be alerting women to the availability of pregnancy help centers that could help them to address the problems that are driving them toward abortion. Treating abortionists who kill women as the public danger they are, rather than freeing them on bail, would prevent them from killing again.

To make it easier to lock up non-physician abortionists, laws need to be drafted that would allow prosecution for perpetrating abortions while lacking the qualifications to treat any complications. This should be considered a form of reckless endangerment. It would provide additional leverage to keep them locked up and would be far preferable to charges for practicing medicine without a license -- which would lend legitimacy to abortion practice.

 On June 1, 1926, Willie Pearl Walker, an 18-year-old Black homemaker born in Eaton, Georgia, died at her Chicago home from complications of a criminal abortion performed that day. A white doctor, Thomas J. New, was held by the coroner in Willie Pearl's death.

I've been unable to find out if New was an abortionist or if he just perpetrated Willie's abortion because he knew her and thought he was helping.


 The day before the 1876 abortion death of Sarah E. Sullivan, authorities learned that 25-year-old Mary A. Fuller had died just the previous Wednesday, June 1, from an abortion perpetrated by the same abortionist: Fanny B. Drake. Mary was a milliner at Boston's South End. "She had been living as the wife of Lynsoude L. Denham, who has a wife and two children living." Denham burned the body of the baby in his stove.

I've been unable to determine Fanny Drake's profession, but given the state of medicine at the time, whether or not she was a doctor probably made little difference. 

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