Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Repeat Offender in 1917, Shoved Out the Door to Die in 1986

On December 31, 1917, 40-year-old homemaker Victoria Chmileuski died in her Chicago home from an abortion perpetrated by Wilhemena Benn, whose profession is given only as "abortion provider," though she was actually a licensed midwife. Benn was acquitted on March 7, 1918. Benn had been previously charged in the June, 1916 abortion death of Rosie Kawera and the March 2, 1906 abortion death of Otilia Winker.

Fast-forward to 1986, the enlightened days of safe, legal abortion.

Arnold Bickham
Eighteen-year-old Sylvia Moore underwent a safe and legal abortion at the hands of Arnold Bickham on New Year's Eve of 1986 at his Urgent Medical Care Clinic in Chicago. She was in the second trimester of her pregnancy, but Bickham used a suction technique suitable for a first-trimester pregnancy.

According to Sylvia's mother, Sylvia was bleeding, weak, and unable to walk. When Sylvia tried to get to her feet and collapsed, Bickham called her "lazy," put her in a wheelchair, and physically ejected her from his Chicago clinic.

Sylvia's mother took her to a nearby hospital. Staff tried in vain to save Sylvia, who had arrived with no pulse and no blood pressure. An emergency hysterectomy was done to remove her lacerated uterus, which still had a plastic instrument embedded in a 6.5 cm laceration. Sylvia also had a 2.2 cm laceration of her vagina. Despite the surgery, she bled to death.

Bickham claimed that he "didn't think there was anything wrong" with Sylvia, and said that he'd merely been helping her with the wheelchair. He blamed Sylvia's death on the hospital. An attorney with the Department of Professional Regulation said, "This patient should never have been allowed to leave Bickham's clinic with her mother."

The postmortum report said: "The circumstances of injury, review of the Medical records, the findings at autopsy examination, and subsequent investigation of the circumstances of the case provide evidence of gross negligence and abandonment on the part of the original treating physician. In consideration of the above, the manner of death is determined to be Homicide." However, no charges were pressed against Bickham.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1924 Chicago

On December 30, 1924, 21-year-old Agnes Nazar, an immigrant from Persia (modern-day Iran), died at Chicago's St. Joseph's Hospital from an abortion performed earlier that day. On January 6, 1925, Rogie Hatal was held by the coroner as the guilty abortionist. Hatal's profession is not listed.
Mike Nazar, her husband, was arrested as an accessory, as was Sarah Babian. Hatal was indicted for felony murder on February 15, 1925.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

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.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Four December 29 Safe-n-Legal Abortion Deaths

"Beth" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. Beth was 23 years old when she traveled from Massachusetts to take advantage of New York's liberalized abortion law in 1971. Beth's doctor chose saline abortion, which is performed by injecting a strong salt solution into the amniotic fluid. The fetus inhales and swallows the fluid, which causes massive internal bleeding and death. The woman then goes into labor. The abortion was initiated by injecting saline into Beth's uterus. But instead of the amniotic sac, the saline went into Beth's bloodstream. Beth immediately began to have seizures and went into a coma. She was pronounced dead on December 29, 1971.

Mary Ann Page is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion.   She was 36 years old when she went into cardiac arrest during an abortion/tubal ligation performed under general anesthesia on December 28, 1977. Both procedures were completed, then Mary Ann was taken to the Intensive Care Unit at St. Luke's Hospital. Mary Ann suffered several more cardiac arrests while she was in the ICU. She was pronounced dead on December 29, 1977.

On December 29, 1987, 31-year-old Sheila Watley had a safe, legal abortion at Concerned Women's Center in Houston, Texas. She was 17 weeks pregnant, and had one child. The abortion was performed by Dr. Richard Cunningham. About four minutes into the procedure, Sheila went into cardio-respiratory arrest. She was pronounced dead later that day. The cause of death was listed as an amniotic fluid embolism, which is when fluid from the uterus gets into the woman's blood stream. 

Hoa Thuy "Vivian" Tran, like Holly Patterson, got abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood. Vivian was 22 years old, and died December 29, 2003, six days into the abortion process. She‘d been given the drugs on December 23 at the Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood facility. The autopsy showed that she died of sepsis.  Vivian‘s husband is suing the drug company, Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernadino Counties, and The Population Council Inc., in Orange County Superior Court. Planned Parenthood spokesperson Kimberlee Ward said that PP has "absolute confidence in this method of abortion," which is hardly surprising. After all, Vivian‘s fetus died, leaving PP with nothing to complain about.  Other women identified as having died of infection deaths after RU-486 deaths in the Los Angeles area: Chanelle Bryant, and Oriane Shevin. Chanelle got her abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood, and Oriane and Vivian got theirs from National Abortion Federation members.

A Mystery Abortion: Chicago, 1921

On December 28, 1921, 30-year-old housekeeper Belle Keehn died at the Chicago Lying-In Hospital from lung abscesses and septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by an unknown doctor on or about November 27.

Documents are unclear as to how it was determined that the perpetrator was a doctor. The hospital was a reputable facility, not a seedy abortionarium, so Belle would have received superior care as doctors tried to save her life.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

Saturday, December 27, 2014

1985: Safe, Legal, and Deadly

Arnetta Hardaway was 18 years old when she had a mid-trimester abortion performed by Dr. George Tucker in Atlanta on December 23, 1985.

Arnetta continued to bleed, and developed infection, after her abortion. On December 27, she died from her complications.

Tucker had an active medical board order on his license as of January 4, 2002. The Georgia medical board web site does not reveal the details of the order.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Criminal Abortion Deaths: 1919 and 1932

Both of today's deaths from the Cemetery of Choice are illegal abortion deaths. One abortion was perpetrated by a physician, the other by an unidentified woman whose occupation is unknown.

Pittsburgh, 1919

Rose Kulamer's husband, John, said that on Saturday, November 30, 1919, she'd told him that she'd been to see “a woman in the West End Pgh.” who had used “a rubber tube” to cause an abortion. She was taken to Columbia Hospital in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania by ambulance on Monday, December 2.
According to Dr. Sidney A. Chalfant, 33-year-old Rose denied an abortion on admission, but later admitted that she and a friend had gone to a woman on Pittsburgh's South Side for an abortion. Her uterus was enlarged to three months, her cervix was dilated to admit two fingers, and a large piece of cotton, that had evidently been present “for some time,” was in her vagina.
Rose was taken to the operating room, where the dead three- to four-month fetus was removed and her cervix was packed with gauze. The next day surgery was performed to remove the placenta.
Over the next four to five days, Rose's temperature fell to normal, but then it started to rise again. Rose reported pain in her lower left leg from old inflamed varicose veins. Her temperature rose and stayed elevated for about two weeks, then fell and remained normal for about five days.
On Christmas morning, Rose seemed fine, but around midnight on Christmas night Chalfant was called in because Rose's condition had taken a sudden downturn. He arrived to find that she had vomited and been incontinent in both her bowels and bladder. She was unconscious, with a weak, irregular pulse. Chalfant diagnosed a pulmonary embolism and remained with Rose for about an hour, during which she seemed to be improving. But the next time Chalfant checked on her, she was showing signs of brain damage from an embolism. She held on until about 1 p.m. December 26.
Dr. Charles Schildecker performed the autopsy in the hospital morgue. Rose, 5'6” and 175 pounds, showed no external marks of injury. However, her fallopian tubes and ovaries were enlarged and gangrenous, especially on the left. The lining of her uterus was inflamed, gangrenous, and decomposed. Her pelvic veins were filled with septic thrombi. All of her pelvic tissues were highly inflamed, showing signs of recent pregnancy. Schildecker determined that the cause of death had been septicemia from an abortion. The coroner's jury recommended that the person responsible, the mysterious woman on the South Side, be identified and arrested.

Raleigh, 1932

Dr. Mike Roberson, age 45, of Durham, North Carolina, was arrested for murder for the abortion death of 20-year-old schoolteacher Miss Myrtle Gardner of Four Oaks, North Carolina. He pleaded nolo contendere and was given a 3 to five year prison sentence. His medical license was also revoked. This was his fourth arrest on abortion charges. He was able to appeal for a new trial based on evidence related to Myrtle's brother-in-law, George D. Clifton.
Registering as Mrs. and Mrs. George Clifton, Clifton and Myrtle had spent the night at a hotel in Raleigh the night before going to the home of Mrs. Carrie C. Forsythe, where they were to meet Roberson for the abortion.

Mrs. Forsythe, age 63 and described as "a gray-haired, middle-aged Raleigh woman," was also charged with murder in Myrtle's death. She was convicted and sentenced to 2 to 3 years for counseling and procuring the abortion. She collapsed and had to be carried to her cell after hearing the sentence. She spent the night "in a highly hysterical condition. Mrs. Forsythe had been charged previously as an accessory to abortion. Clifton was charged as an accessory

After she took ill, Clifton took her to the hospital and had her admitted as Mrs. George Clifton.

Myrtle died of septic infection from an incomplete abortion in the evening of December 26, 1932. Dr. P. G. Fox reported her death to the police after she gave a deathbed statement at the hospital.

Roberson's wife provided his alibi, saying that he was at home sick the night Myrtle's abortion was perpetrated. His defense also asserted that the prosecution had not proved that Myrtle had actually been pregnant.

Clifton was not believed to have been the father of Myrtle's baby. He was her brother-in-law.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Macabre Story of Jacqueline Smith

Headshot of an attractive young blonde woman with short, neatly styled hair
Jacqueline "Jackie" Smith
Over the years, many details of the Jacqueline Smith case have been lost, and the remaining story often is dismissed as an urban legend. But strange and macabre as the story is, it was all too true.

Jacqueline Smith, age 20, was a slender, brown-eyed blond from Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Over the protests of her father, 41-year-old Chester Smith, and her mother, Jacqueline moved to New York and took an apartment with two other women early in 1955. She wanted to pursue a career as a fashion designer.

That June, friends introduced the soft-spoken, demure Jacqueline to Thomas G. Daniel, an urbane young salesman of 24. Daniel was well-read, multi-lingual, a poet and gourmet cook. He had come to New York from Warren, Ohio, three years earlier. He worked at an upscale shop selling riding equipment. With his good looks and sophistication, he was able to win over the small-town girl. She spent more and more time at his apartment, all but moving in with him.

In December, Jacqueline told Daniel that she was pregnant. Daniels did not want to marry Jacqueline -- he still had a girlfriend back in Ohio who he preferred. Instead he arranged for a 46-year-old scrub nurse, Leobaldo Pejuan, to perform an abortion at Daniel's apartment on Christmas Eve. After performing the abortion, Pejuan became alarmed at the young woman's condition, and summoned Dr. Ramiro Morales, who told him that Jackie was dead.

Daniel and Pejuan cut Jacqueline's body into pieces and took it to Pejuan's home, where over the next several days they cut into as many as 50 pieces, which they wrapped in Christmas paper and disposed of in trash cans along side streets off Broadway, from 72nd to 80th.

When Chester Smith arrived for a visit on December 30, he got Daniel and together they went to the police to report Jackie missing. The police were quickly suspicious of Daniel and began to question him more closely. Daniel finally told police that Jacqueline had gone into the bathroom and stabbed herself to death due to his refusal to marry her, and that he had dumped her body in the Hudson River.

Police investigated, and found over 800 stolen medical instruments in Pejuan's apartment. The entire story eventually came out, with Pejuan pleading guilty and testifying against Daniel. Daniel's widowed mother attended the entire trial. Chester Smith, too, was there, but left the courtroom when testimony came to describing the dismemberment of his daughter's body.

Pejuan was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, and Daniel was sentenced to 8 years. His mother went into hysterics upon hearing the verdict, screaming, "God help me. They have taken my life, my savings, my son."

Nobody recorded the words of Jacqueline's father as he faced a life without his daughter.

The newspaper in Jackie's home town of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, covered Jackie's life and death, and the trial, extensively. Click here for more thorough coverage. Click here for additional photos related to the case.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Abortion Deaths: 1885, 1934, 1970

There are three deaths in the Cemetery of Choice for this date.

Michigan, 1885

Harry McDowell began calling at the home of Dr. Truman Sawdy of Howard City, about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to visit Dr. Sawdy's 21-year-old daughter, Sylvia. On December 10, 1885, Sylvia went to Grand Rapids by train, ostensibly to visit McDowell's mother. Dr. Sawdy heard nothing more from or about his daughter until the morning of Christmas Eve, when McDowell's father came to him, saying that he'd gotten a telegram or telephone call from his son. The senior McDowell said that Harry had told him that Sylvia was very sick and wanted her mother, Cornelia, to go to her.

 Dr. Sawdy read the next day in the newspaper that his daughter was dead. It came out in the trial that in November, Sylvia had consulted with Drs. Bodle, Hake, and Bradish, indicating that she was pregnant. Evidence indicated that McDowell had performed an abortion on Sylvia on December 23, and that she died that day. McDowell was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years.

New York, 1934

Loretta Wilson
On Christmas day of 1934, the nude body of a young woman was found under a pile of leaves in a thicket near a highway south of New York City. Laura and Joseph Devine, whose 19-year-old daughter, Loretta Wilson, had been missing since December 19, contacted authorities and were able to positively identify the body. An autopsy revealed that she had bled to death on December 23 from complications of an abortion.

Her husband of two years, William, said he'd paid Dr. John H. Becker Jr. $55 for the abortion. Becker admitted to having been paid $2 for examining Loretta on December 17, but denied perpetrating the abortion. He said that she was supposed to return on the 18th but failed to show up. However, his assertion that he'd not seen Loretta after the 17th was challenged by a witness who picked Becker out of a lineup of seven men as the one he'd seen standing by a car near the area where Loretta's body was found. Becker was found guilty and sentenced to between 18 months and three years in Sing-Sing.

New York, 1970

"Kimberly" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. She was 25 years old and 18 weeks pregnant when she underwent a safe, legal abortion under the new law, in New York City on December 23, 1970. During the abortion, she went into cardiac arrest and died, leaving behind two children.

New Information on a Very Old Case

On December 22, 1891, a 21-year-old Swedish girl named Tillie Thor was found dead in a bed at the rear of the office of Dr. Franklin E. Brooks on Ogden Avenue in Chicago.

Brooks was unable to give an innocent explanation as to why Tillie was dead so he, along with George Lundy, a carpenter, were arrested. Lundy and Brooks had a longstanding friendship.

Tillie has been working as a domestic servant in the home of an upscale family until September of 1891. For a reason I've been unable to determine, she moved in with her sister, Christina Armblade, and Christina's husband, Frederick, on Sangamon Street.

Behind the Armblade house was George Lundy's carpentry shop. He offered her a job as his housekeeper, and she accepted, beginning her job on September 23. A short time later, Lundy relocated to Dussold Street, and against the vehement objections of her family, Tillie accompanied him. They had seen that Tillie was infatuated and feared that she's marry Lundy, a man they considered "odious." Tillie's brother-in-law went so far as to collect Tillie's belongings from Lundy's home and bring them to the Armblade family home.

Tillie sent Lundy to bring her things back to his home, and she remained there, though she spent a brief time at her sister's home in October to be attended during an illness. Her family's attempts to convince her to leave Lundy fell on deaf ears. Tillie said she knew the ways of the world and could take care of herself.

Tillie visited her family less and less often, though her 15-year-old sister, Alma, frequently visited her at Lundy's home. Alma said that Tillie seemed contented living with Lundy, but was disquieted by things she'd observed there, such as Lundy being present in Tillie's room while she was dressing or undressing.

One of Tillie's friends, Helma Boyer, testified that she'd frequently spent the night at the Lundy home and had sometimes seen Lundy sitting by Tillie's bed after Tillie had retired for the night.

However, around the 14th of December, Tillie informed Lundy that she was pregnant. He made arrangements to go to Brooks for the abortion on December 16. Tillie evidently was expecting the abortion and recovery to take several days, since her sister Alma reported that she'd visited Tillie briefly on the 16th and had seen her packing, ostensibly for a vacation. This prevented Tillie's family from having any suspicions regarding her absence from Lundy's home.

Tillie never left Brooks' practice alive. The abortion, which has been perpetrated by an undetermined means, triggered peritonitis. Brooks, who insisted that she'd only been suffering from stomach and bowel problems, kept her in the bedroom at the back of his office and attended her there until her death.

On December 20, Brooks had called in a second physician, Dr. James B. Williams, for a consultation on Tillie's case. Dr. Williams found Tillie, who had been identified to him as "Mrs. Wales," with a high fever and symptoms of the peritonitis that would eventually kill her. Dr. Williams found the whole situation fishy, advised Brooks to continue his current treatments and expressed a desire to extricate himself from situation.

Dr. Williams returned the following day with a Dr. Dal, and together the two doctors concluded that "Mrs. Wales" was suffering from complications of an abortion. They prescribed morphine for her and questioned her about how she'd come to be in her current condition. Eventually she confessed that she'd gotten pregnant by a man in his 40s, with whom she resided. However, she refused to provide the doctors with any clue as to her real identity. Dr. Dal questioned her alone to get a deathbed statement identifying her abortionist. When asked if Dr. Williams was the guilty party, Tillie answered with an emphatic, "No!" When asked if Brooks was the culprit, she gave no answer.

The two consultant doctors testified that Brooks' nephew, Mr. Wales, told them that his uncle was fretful about Tillie's condition and feared he'd go to prison.

For reasons I've been unable to determine, perhaps due to a tip-off by one of the consulting physicians, police staked out Brooks' office. They arrested Lundy first, when he'd approached at around 1 a.m. the day of Tillie's death with a paper with Brooks' address on it that somebody had shoved under his door.

Tillie's family, who had been tricked by the story of the vacation, were stunned by the news of her death.

Clipping from Chicago Tribune, dated September 24, 1870: Dr. Franklin Brooks (...) cures Consumption, Liver Complaint, Dyspepsia .... Ladies requiring surgical aid, medical attendance, or advice, may call or address the Doctor on all confidential matters. ....
Dr. Franklin Brooks' ad in the Chicago Tribune
Brooks had a history as an abortionist, running thinly veiled ads for his dubious services. Fifteen years earlier he'd served 18 months for perpetrating an abortion upon a young woman who survived her ordeal, and news archives show multiple other cases of Brooks being tried for abortions that the women survived. He was also implicated in the 1865 abortion death of Jennie Franklin. He was evidently convicted, because his wife divorced him in November of 1877 while he was in prison. However, he must not have served much time because he went on to be implicated in the 1879 death of Elizabeth Foley.  So far I've been unable to determine the outcome of the Tillie Thor case. The only certain thing is that Franklin lost his license, because he was fined for practicing without it in 1893.

Tillie's abortion was typical of those before legalization in that it was performed by a physician.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"After Tiller" Hero's 35-Week Fiasco

HT: Operation Rescue

Source: New Mexico Medical Board document regarding late-term abortion practitioner Shelley Sella, former colleague of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller.

The New Mexico Medical board was called on to determine if Shelley Sella's care of Patient M.L. (I will refer to her as "Madison" to avoid the dehumanizing use of initials.) constituted negligence.

Sella's Practice

Sella's abortion clinic, Southwest Women's Options, provides outpatient abortions only. For serious complications, the protocol is to call 911 and have an ambulance take the patient to the University of New Mexico Hospital. Sella's treatment of the injured patient was standard protocol for third trimester abortions at her clinic.

Madison's Abortion

The Pregnancy

Madison had traveled to New Mexico from New York specifically for the purpose of a late abortion. This was an elective abortion of a viable fetus.

At the time she made the appointment, Madison informed clinic staff that she had a history of a previous c-section. Of all the patients Sella had seen with a previous c-section, Madison, at an estimated 35 weeks at the time of the appointment, would be the most advanced in pregnancy.
As was the routine for late abortions, Madison was to stay at a nearby hotel during the abortion process.

During Madison's first visit to Sella's clinic on May 2, 2011, an ultrasound was performed. One measurement of the fetal head was consistent with a fetal age of 39 weeks 2 days, and the other measurement was consistent with a fetal age of 40 weeks 4 days. This, Madison was full term in her pregnancy.

Day One

Madison was first seen by Sella at her abortion clinic on May 10, 2011. That day, Sella administered two drugs vaginally: misoprostal to soften and shorten the cervix in preparation for delivery, and digoxin to cause fetal demise. Sella also inserted laminaria into Madison's cervix. These are matchstick-sized pieces of sterilized and dried seaweed which absorb fluid and expand, thus dilating the cervix.

Day Two

Madison returned on May 11. Sella administered a second dose of misoprostal and changed the expanded laminaria with fresh ones. A second ultrasound was performed to verify that the fetus was dead. Madison was sent back to her hotel with a third dose of misoprostal which she was to self-administer. Madison followed instructions and late in the evening she went into labor. She returned to the clinic. Sella started an IV and began administering pitocin, a drug to induce and speed labor.

Shortly after midnight on the morning of May 12, Sella administered additional misoprostal.

At around 7:00 a.m. on May 12, Sella increased the dose of pitocin and administered more misoprostal.

Catastrophic Consequences

At around 1:17 p.m., Sella stopped the pitocin drip because she suspected that Madison's uterus had ruptured. Approximately 45 minutes later, Madison was taken to the hospital. Her uterus had indeed ruptured due to the strength of the contractions.

Standards of care

The typical measure for standards of care in medical treatment is the "local community standard," meaning what is typical among other physicians in the area. For specialists, however, whose local communities have no similar practitioners, a "community standard" could refer to the "community" of other experts in the same specialty. However, the medical board in the Sella late-abortion case determined that there is no standard of care for late abortions. They opted, therefore, to use a standard of care for obstetric care since the abortion method Sella used is a labor-induction method and thus comparable to inducing labor in obstetric patients.

Sella's Care of Madison

The abortion performed on Madison would be analogous to induction of labor of a full-term infant after a previous c-section. Use of misoprostol and pitocin to induce labor in a term-pregnancy after c-section is specifically proscribed by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology due to the risk of uterine rupture, which can cause catastrophic hemorrhage.

The amount of misoprostal administered to Madison was double the amount appropriate for induction of labor at that state of pregnancy. Again, inducing labor with misoprostal and pitocin would only be appropriate if the patient did not have a previous c-section.

An expert obstetrician testified that he would  never induce labor with misoprostal on an outpatient basis, or on a patient with a previous c-section, because "the contraction patter of misoprostol is unpredictable and quite often very powerful." Though he did sometimes perform third-trimester abortions, he only did so in a hospital. He did not leave patients in a hotel without medical supervision.

A previous c-section is a known risk factor for uterine rupture in future vaginal deliveries. The larger the fetus, the higher the risk. The full-term size of the fetus Madison was aborting would make the risk of uterine rupture equal to that of a full-term delivery.

The fact that the fetus had been dead for some time prior to labor would reduce the risk of rupture because decomposition of the fetal tissue would cause it to soften. The use of instruments to reduce the size of the fetal head prior to delivery would also reduce the risk of rupture; however, Sella did not use any means to reduce the size of the fetal head. [N.B. those methods could involve crushing of the skull or use of suction to remove the brain, thus allowing the skull to collapse without use of external pressure from instruments.]

Sella could not be unaware that her protocol was subjecting Madison to a high risk of catastrophic uterine rupture.


Why is Dr. Shelley Sella, who played Russian roulette with her patient's lives, considered a hero by the abortion-rights movement?

The Medical Board noted that Madison's abortion, be it at 35 or 40 weeks, was an elective abortion but nevertheless legal under New Mexico law. Roe vs. Wade gives states the option to permit or ban elective third-trimester abortions. Should we view New Mexico as a forward-thinking state with a high dedication to reproductive choice, or as a barbaric state that allows term infants to be aborted when they could just as easily be delivered alive?

During the brouhaha over the "Partial Birth Abortion" ban, Ron Fitzsimmons of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers admitted,  and independent journalists verified, that the bulk of abortions past 20 weeks are elective, performed on healthy women to abort healthy fetuses. Should the abortion-rights movement be held accountable for dogged efforts to mislead the public about the real reasons late abortions are being performed?

From 1915 to 1997, Dead is Still Dead

There are four women from the Cemetery of Choice whose abortions ended their lives on this date. I have very little information on the two criminal abortion deaths:

On December 21, 1915, 34-year-old Anna Hunt died at Chicago's Rhodes Avenue Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated that day by an unknown person.

On December 11, 1926, fifteen-year-old Emily Mueller underwent a criminal abortion somewhere in Chicago. She died on December 21. Midwife Magdelane Stegeman was indicted for felony murder by the Grand Jury on February 15, 1927. Shewas later implicated in the 1941 abortion death of Rose Smith

I know slightly more about the first of the two safe and legal abortion deaths.

Denise Holmes, a 24-year-old Australian woman living in Texas, decided to undergo a safe and legal abortion at Avalon Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on her way home for Christmas of 1970. She checked into Avalon Hospital (an abortion facility owned by Edward Campbell Allred) on December 21. During the abortion, Denise suffered an amniotic fluid embolism that carried pieces of fetal bone marrow into her lungs. She was pronounced dead by Allred at Avalon at 5pm. Denise is the first confirmed abortion death at an Allred facility. Other women known to have died after abortions at Allred's Family Planning Associates Medical Group chain of facilities include Patricia Chacon, Mary Pena, Josefina Garcia, Lanice Dorsey, Joyce Ortenzio, Tami Suematsu, Deanna Bell, Susan Levy, Christina Mora, Ta Tanisha Wesson, Nakia Jorden, Maria Leho, Kimberly Neil, Maria Rodriguez, and Chanelle Bryant.

I have the most information about the most recent death.

Dr. Earl McLeod
On December 20, 1997, 27-year-old Jennifer Halner went to Potomac Family Planning for a safe, legal abortion, to be performed by D&C. She was 6 weeks pregnant. Dr. Earl McLeod's anesthesiologist, identified in records only as Dr. K., started an IV, and Jennifer was hooked up to monitors. Jennifer  was transferred to recovery at 10:10 a.m. She was put on an oxygen mask but taken off the monitors. Ten minutes later a nurse noticed that Jennifer was still unresponsive. Neither McLeod nor the anesthesiologist assessed Jennifer, but instead verbally approved an odd request that a nurse had made for an anti-nausea drug which, of course, did nothing to help Jennifer. The nurse then requested a drug that would actually reverse the effects of anesthetics, and again, without assessing the patient, Dr. K gave his okay. It was then, more than fifteen minutes after the abortion, that a nurse noticed that Jennifer had no pulse and her pupils were dilated. She fetched Dr. K. He stared a second IV and began to perform CPR, using a pediatric-sized bag-valve mask totally inadequate for an adult patient. Meanwhile, McLeod performed two other procedures before entering the recovery room and finding his staff performing inadequate CPR on his patient.

It wasn't until around 10:42 a.m. that McLeod told somebody to call 911. Paramedics arrived and  immediately began appropriate resuscitation. They transported Jennifer to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. After aggressive resuscitation efforts by ER staff, Jennifer's heart was restored to a stable rhythm, and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where she died at 4:15 a.m. on December 21.
The appalled paramedics reported McLeod to the medical board, which faulted him with failure to provide adequate and readily-available post-operative monitoring equipment, and failure to provide adequate emergency supplies. The board also required him to get his staff properly certified in CPR. McLeod also ran the Hillcrest abortion mill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Kelly Morse had died in 1996 after being inadequately resuscitated.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Scant Info on Midwife's Fatal Work, 1926

On December 13, 1926, 23-year-old Chicago native Mary Paradowski underwent a criminal abortion.
She died on December 20 at Chicago Hospital. On January 15, 1927, midwife Josephine Petrova was indicted for felony murder in Mary's death.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chicago, 1921: A Nurse/Midwife's Fatal Work

On December 19, 1921, 18-year-old housekeeper Marie Pickle died in Chicago after an abortion perpetrated by Clarence Shoere, who was identified as a nurse or midwife. Shoere was held by the coroner but not tried.

Marie, a native of Howe, Oklahoma, was a single Black woman whose occupation was listed as "Housework, general."

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Illegal" Abortion Deaths 60 Years Apart

There are two deaths from the Cemetery of Choice on this date, 60 years apart, very different but both illegal.

Illegal in 1923

On December 18, 1923, 40-year-old Sophia Hartozinski died at Chicago's County Hospital due to a criminal abortion performed there that day. The coroner identified midwife Mary Roback as having been responsible for Sophia's death.

Illegal in 1982

Myrtha Baptiste, age 26, had a safe and legal abortion of her 10 week pregnancy performed by Orlando Zaldivar at Woman's Care Clinic December 18, 1982.  Myrtha, a mother of two, arrived at the hospital in critical condition due to delay of transfer by the clinic staff. She bled to death from two uterine perforations. Zaldivar could not be reached for seven hours while hospital staff were struggling to save his patient's life.

Because Zaldivar's license was inactive at the time he performed Myrta's abortion, the CDC classified her death as being due to illegal abortion rather than legal abortion. This hides her death from statistics on legal abortion deaths even though Myrtha had no reason at all to suspect that her abortion wasn't legal. The other deaths at that facility -- Ruth Montero, Shirley Payne, and Maura Morales -- were counted as legal abortion deaths.

Rapey Patel Faces Allegations from Former Employees

Mug shot of a middle-aged man of Indian ethnicity
Abortion doctor
Naresh Patel
Recently I blogged about abortion doctor Naresh Patel after KATV Arkansas reported about his arrest for lying to patients by telling them they're pregnant when they're not then charging them $620 for abortion drugs.

Well, News OK is doing some actual journalism, looking into Patel's past. And what did they find? Employees suing him for sexual harassment.

In one recent lawsuit, former employee Kim Hauser, who had been hired by Patel in November of 2012 as a receptionist for a Holiday Inn he owned, came forward. She said that Patel made her work at his abortion clinic, performing the duties of a surgical technician and of a nurse. She also reported that he had frequently pressed her for sexual favors, and when she refused he made her perform disturbing tasks such as bagging up aborted fetuses.

Ms. Hauser said she needed the job to provide for her children. She finally quit in May of 2013, she told a judge, after Patel tried to rape her.

Another former employee, Tami Amsler, also filed suit against Patel, and accepted a confidential settlement. She, like Ms. Hauser, said that she'd begun working for Patel at one of his hotels, in her case the Staybridge Suites. She began working for him in January of 2013 and quit on March 15, 2013, because, she said, Patel “incessantly and inappropriately propositioned” her for sexual favors and engaged in sexually aggressive behaviors such grabbing her breasts. Her lawyer says that he has text messages from Patel that substantiate her allegations.

Each woman separately alleges that Patel offered her money in exchange for "marrying" a foreigner.

Patel's treatment of his employees, however, seems almost chivalrous in comparison to what his patients have reported.

Patient allegations. Click to enlarge.
In 1993, three of Patel's patients came forward reporting that he had raped them. Patient #1 was groggy, recovering from her abortion, when Patel put his penis in her mouth. Patient #2 was groggy from sedation for her abortion when Patel raped her orally, vaginally, and rectally. Patient #3 reported that he had raped her vaginally when she was on the procedure table. Somehow, in spite of ample evidence, including taped phone conversations in which Patel admitted to putting his penis in Patient #1's mouth, he was acquitted.

Patel's bad behavior, moreover, hasn't been limited to fraud, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

In 1995, a patient sued him for putting a 6 cm. tear in her cervix and being unable to treat her for this injury because he had no hospital admitting privileges. Another patient sued him in 1994 after he had mangled her uterus and refused to call an ambulance until her family members demanded that he do so; she required an immediate hysterectomy to save her life. Another patient sued in 1994 when she began bleeding and expelling fetal parts after he'd discharged her from his clinic.

News clipping about fetus dumping.
Click to enlarge.
In 1992 he admitted to burning a bag of 60 aborted fetuses in an open field.

In 1990 he was reprimanded for disemboweling a 15-year-old abortion patient. His medical assistant saw him "pull out some tissue and take it in his hands." She then testified that Patel said, "That's her small intestine" before stuffing it back inside. The teen was rushed to a hospital, where surgeons found a hole in her uterus and a fetus floating in blood in her abdomen. She needed to have her fallopian tubes, ovaries, and portion of her colon removed due to injuries.

Redacted patient record recovered
from dumpster. Click to enlarge.
In 2013 Patel also disposed of confidential patient information in a dumpster, including patient consent forms,  financial information, and abortion documentation. He also dumped job applications that had personal information about the applicants. As if that's not enough, he also disposed of  biohazardous materials in the dumpster.

How many Patels and Gosnels must there be before pro choice Americans start to recognize that the abortion lobby protects the interests of abortion business, not the interests of the women who entrust their bodies and their lives to those people?

A Question for Abortion-Right Supporters About Gosnellesque Facilities

I have a very interesting exchange going in the comments section of a Breitbart post about the upcoming Gosnell movie. I consider this very well worth elaborating upon.

How can you assert that Gosnell is "rare" when so many other Gosnellesque doctors have been uncovered entirely by accident? I can think of two other cases off the top of my head (Krishna Rajanna and Robert Alexander) whose filthy practices were, like Gosnell's practice, discovered entirely by accident when police went to their facilities for totally non-abortion reasons.

Gosnell is rare when you think of how many actual abortion clinics there are versus Gosnells.

One often gets this sort of response when pointing out the existence of Gosnellesque facilities and the need to identify and close them.

I have a question for those who brush off the Gosnells on the grounds that there are far more clinics that are not Gosnells:

What ratio of Gosnell to non-Gosnell facilities do you consider acceptable?

The ratio can be given either as a facilty-to-facility ratio, or can be based on how many women each type of facility sees.

Seriously. Inquiring  minds want to know.

1914: The Fatal Work of an Unnamed Perp

On December 17, 1914, 24-year-old Emma Fertig died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator. She left behind three children.

Due to improvements in addressing overall medical care and public health issues, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America.

All without legalizing abortions.

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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Work of Four Doctors and One Midwife

1874, Brooklyn Midwife

On December 16, 1874, Mrs. Christine Seifred died in Brooklyn from complications of a botched abortion. The coroner's inquest revealed that  Christine had gone to a midwife, Mrs. Johanna White, who had used instruments to perpetrate the abortion on December 6, causing the peritonitis that eventually killed Christine, who had been about three months pregnant. I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case. However, White was free in 1976, when she was implicated in the abortion deaths of Matilda Baringer and Mary Hermann.

1925, Chicago Physician

Dr. Lucy Hagenow
On December 16, 1925, 22-year-old factory worker Bridget Masterson died in her Chicago home from a botched abortion. John O'Malley, the father of Bridget's baby, committed suicide by gas after learning of Bridget's death. He left a note implicating "a lady doctor at 310 W. North Ave." This was the address of Dr. Lucy Hagenow

Hagenow was arrested and was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury on January 5, 1926, but the judge dismissed the charges. 

Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dorris, Abbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, had relocated to Chicago, where she would find a more genial atmosphere for her criminal activities. Prior to Bridget's death she was implicated in the Chicago deaths of  Minnie Deering, Sophia Kuhn, Emily Anderson, Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean Cohen, and Elizabeth Welter. After the judge dismissed the charges against Hagenow for Bridget's death, she went on to perpetrate a fatal abortion on Mary Moorehead.

1981: New York Physician

Barbara Auerbach was 38 years old when she went to a New York hospital for a safe, legal abortion and tubal ligation, performed December 11, 1981. Two days later, she was discharged. On December 16, Barbara was vomiting and suffering from back pain and inability to void her bladder. She was admitted to Princeton Medical Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Doctors there tried in vain to save her life, but she died within three hours of being admitted. The autopsy showed that Barbara had an obstruction of her small bowel, which caused massive infection throughout her body.

1984, Los Angeles Physician

Dr. Edward C. Allred
On December 15, 1984, Mary Pena underwent a safe and legal abortion at San Vincente Hospital in Los Angeles. She was 43 years old and the mother of five. Mary had thought that she was 3 months pregnant, but doctors discovered she was at 22 weeks. After the procedure, Mary was bleeding so heavily that a hysterectomy was performed in an effort to save her life. The surgery was not successful, and at 1:50 am on December 16, 1984, she died while on the operating table. San Vicente owner, Dr. Edward Allred, slipped Mary's body past the coroner without an autopsy. However, when her death certificate was taken to Kern County Health Department they refused to accept it and contacted the Los Angeles Coroner. Mary's body was brought to LA County for an autopsy. Only then was it revealed that she had bled to death from cervical lacerations. Once a cause for the fatal hemorrhage was determined, the death certificate was accepted, and Mary was laid to rest.

San Vicente had been purchased by National Abortion Federation member Familiy Practice Associates Medical Group shortly before Mary's death. Other patients known to have died after abortion at Allred's facilities include

New York, 1993 (1998) Physician

Venus Ortiz
Venus Ortiz, was 23 years old when she went for a safe, legal abortion at National Abortion Federation member Eastern Women's Center in New York on February 24, 1993. Evidence indicated that the abortion of Venus' approximately 15-week pregnancy was performed by Dr. Leiber. Due to negligence in administering anesthesia to Venus, she went into cardio-respiratory arrest. Staff failed to notice and treat the arrest promptly and properly. Venus was left in permanent need of respirator, with profound brain damage. Venus remain in a coma/vegetative state until her death five years later in a Staten Island nursing home on December 16, 1998 at the age of 29. Two other patients, Dawn Ravenelle and Dawn Mack, also died of complications of abortions done at Eastern Women's Center. 

Other women who suffered severe brain injuries and died years later from those abortion complications include:

  • Suzanne Logan, who languished, mute and paralyzed, for three years until her death on December 1, 1992
  • Shelby Moran, who was cared for in a nursing home for over 20 years until her death on September 16, 1999
  • "Gabriella Alonso," who spent six years in a coma until her death in the summer of 2002
  • Christi Stile, who spent nearly 22 years in a vegetative state until her death on March 29, 2015

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Safe and Legal" -- Until Cops Discover Otherwise

What do Kermit Gosnell, Krishna Rajanna, and Robert Alexander all have in common? Aside from being quacktastic abortionists, I mean.

The answer? They're quacktastic abortionists whose quackery was only discovered when cops went to their clinics for totally unrelated issues.

Kansas City, 2003: Dr. Krishna Rajanna

A small, cluttered room with a toilet near a portable dishwasher
Combination patient
bathroom and
"sterilization room"
On September 18, 2003, two Kansas City detectives went to Krishna Rajanna's Afordable Medicine Clinic in response to his report that his employees had been stealing from him.

Inside the cops found clutter and filth. They didn't even want to sit down to take statements because of how nasty the place was.

Cockroaches were scuttling among trash and dirty dishes in the rank, grungy break room. Styrofoam cups containing aborted fetuses were stored in the freezer with the employees' food. More than one employee told police that Rajanna had microwaved what was in one of the cups and stirred it into his lunch.

There wasn't a washable floor in the procedure room. There was carpet -- blood-stained carpet. Rajanna himself was as unkempt as his facility, with dirty hands and uncombed hair.

Page 1 of a document stating why Dr. Rajanna's license was being suspended
Medical board document.
Click to enlarge.
Employees told the police that medical instruments were cleaned with Clorox then run through a dishwasher. The dishwasher in question was just a few feet from the toilet for patient use. The combination "sterilization room" and patient restroom was as filthy and cluttered as the rest of the clinic.

One police officer testified to the legislature, "I am an experienced police officer who has worked in every aspect in law enforcement and had spent my last five years in the homicide unit where I worked countless community deaths. I thought I had heard and seen every vile, disgusting crime scene but was in for a new shock when I started this investigation."

In February of 2005, a year and a half after the police stepped into his clinic, the state finally got around to doing something about Rajanna. He was fined $1,000 and had his medical license suspended for a week. An emergency suspension was finally imposed later in 2005 after a surprise inspection revealed a dead rodent in the hallway in addition to the general squalor of the place.

Philadelphia, 2010: Dr. Kermit Gosnell

On February 18, 2010, the FBI and Philadelphia detectives raided Kermit Gosnell's clinic, Women's Medical Society, expecting to find a pill mill. They were shocked to discover flea-infested cats roaming freely through a filthy abortion clinic where women lay stuporous and moaning on blood-stained recliners. A stench of urine filled the air. There was blood on the floor. Cat feces and cat hair were found everywhere, even in the procedure rooms which one police officer likened to "a bad gas station rest room."

Lower end of a beige gynecological table, showing tears in the cover and caked blood on a metal lip extending beyond the end of the table
Procedure room table in Gosnell's clinic
To describe the medical equipment as unsanitary would be a gross understatement. The procedure room table was caked with dried blood. The oxygen mask and tubing were coated with a thick layer of gray grunge. The corroded tubing for the suction machine was the only tubing available should a patient need to have her airway suctioned. Except for a single blood pressure cuff, none of the monitoring equipment was functional.

 The remains of aborted fetuses were stockpiled all over the place: in bags, in orange juice cartons, in empty cat food containers. Sometimes containers of fetal remains would leak onto the dirt floor of the basement. A row of jars contained severed fetal feet.

A hand-written, color-coded chart showing which narcotics in which quantities were to be admistered for "custom," "twilight," "heavy," and "local."
Anesthesia chart for the clinic
A thorough investigation found that unlicensed staff -- often not even high school graduates -- were routinely doping patients up to keep them quiet until Gosnell would arrive later in the day to do their abortions. The chart they consulted for dosages was drawn up by a 15-year-old employee that had been given some marginal on the job training.

If the babies were born alive -- which they were on a daily basis -- Gosnell or one of his employees would sever the baby's spine at the base of the skull with surgical scissors.

In spite of these conditions, Gosnell had a steady stream of patients referred to him by other abortion clinics in neighboring states in addition to patients he picked up while moonlighting at a National Abortion Federation member clinic in Delaware one day a week.

Gosnell was arrested. He was eventually found guilty of the murders of three of the infants that had been born alive and is currently serving a life sentence. And, having entered the building with law enforcement, state officials were more or less forced to shut the clinic down immediately.

Muskegon, 2012: Dr. Robert Alexander

a suction-machine cart next to a procedure table in a cluttered room. There is a large reddish smear all along one side of the suction cart.
Procedure room at Dr. Robert Alexander's clinic
On December 26, 2012, Muskegon, Michigan police responded to a report of a break-in at Robert Alexander's Women's Medical Services. They found blood on the floors and walls, uncovered buckets of unidentified fluids in the surgical area, blood dripping from the sink trap in a patient room, biohazard bags on the floor and in closets, and unsterilized medical equipment.

Medications and used hypodermic needles were strewn throughout the facility, along with confidential patient records.

The place was also such a fire trap -- combustible materials near ignition sources, no fire extinguishers, and so on-- that the fire department shut it down by emergency order the next day.

An investigation was triggered by this report. Two of Alexander's employees told the medical board that the conditions the police found were typical during day-to-day operation of the facility. The facility remains closed, but Alexander remains licensed.

More Questions Than Answers

Every time a rock gets turned over and a Gosnell or an Alexander or a Rajanna scurries for cover,
when a visit to an abortion clinic looks like an episode of Hoarders, how does the abortion lobby respond?

Do they call for emergency inspections of other abortion facilities in the state to make sure there are no other dangerous quacks running dens of squalor? Do they demand to know why this was permitted to continue? Do they declare that abortion safety is an area of common ground where prolife and prochoice can work together to shut down the Gosnells and Alexanders and Rajannas?

The exterior of Gosnell's clinic, a three-story brick building on a corner in an old section of a city, listing possible blame for Gosnell's clinic followed by identification of prolifers as the real culprits
The typical response is to lie low and wait for it all to blow over. When the Gosnell case finally got national attention, abortion-rights advocates and their media lapdogs had the audacity to blame prolifers -- who try to shut such clinics down -- with the very existence of such a place.

The choice made by Gosnell to run such a cesspool, the choice made by a prochoice governor to order a halt to abortion clinic inspections, the repeated choices by state officials to turn a blind eye to alarming reports about the goings-on at 3801 Lancaster, the choice by a National Abortion Federation member clinic to hire Gosnell and hand off patients to him, the repeated choices by reputable abortion facilities to refer women -- including the hapless Karnamaya Mongar -- to Gosnell, and the choice by the National Abortion Federation to keep quiet about what was happening rather than try to shut him down -- none of these were identified as so much as contributing factors.

Abortion-rights groups and their media lapdogs continue to insist that, in spite of the Gosnells and the Alexanders and the Rajannas, all is well in Choiceland, that state oversight and inspections are a needless and vindictive burden to abortion providers. Active attempts to identify and shut down clinics, even marginal clinics, will "limit access" to "safe, legal abortions."

I suspect that, like the governor of Pennsylvania, they fear that turning over rocks will only reveal more creepy-crawlies, which will raise questions about exactly what it is the abortion lobby is defending with their dogged campaigns to keep everybody -- including themselves -- in the dark about what is really going on behind the closed doors of abortion clinics.

They don't seem to be defending women's access to safe abortion services.