Monday, April 14, 2014

The Abortion Deaths of two Stellas, Half a Century Apart

April 13 holds a sad coincidence: the abortion deaths of two women named Stella.

On April 13, 1909, Stella Kelly Lowery, age 28, died of septicemia at a hospital in Chicago, from an abortion that had been perpetrated around March 5. Stella, a waitress, was divorced and was identified by her maiden name in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database. A midwife named Louise Actenberg was held by the coroner's jury. Achtenberg was also implicated in the 1907 abortion death of Dora Swan and the 1909 abortion deaths of Stella and of Florence Wright. In 1918, at the age of 69, she was arrested for performing an abortion on Miss Ruth G. Pickling,[1] but acquitted, going on to be arrested for the 1920 abortion death of Violet McCormick and the 1924 death of Madelyn Anderson. I can find no record that she was ever incarcerated, which is hardly surprising, given how hospitable Chicago has typically been to abortionists both before and after legalization.

Stella Saenz, age 42, had arranged for a safe, legal abortion in the spring of 1968. On April 11, she was admitted to Los Angeles County General Hospital with sepsis. Doctors administered penicillin. Stella went into anaphylactic shock; neither she nor the doctors had realized that Stella was allergic to penicillin. Doctors tried to treat both the infection and Stella's reaction to the penicillin, to no avail. She died on April 13. The California Department of Public Health classified Stella's death as both a drug reaction death and a legal abortion death. She was one of the growing number of safe-and-legal abortion deaths that were to soon almost completely replace illegal abortion deaths in the United States over the coming decade.

external image Abortion+Deaths+Since+1940.jpg

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