Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three Typial Illegal Deaths: The Work of Doctors

Mary Calderone
All three of the Cemetery of Choice deaths that took place on this date are abortions that were perpetrated by doctors. As then-Planned Parenthood Federation medical director Mary Calderone estimated in The American Journal of Public Health, " (1960) 90 per cent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians." Another researcher, Nancy Howell Lee, estimated in The Search for an Abortionist (1969) that 89% of illegal abortions were being done by physicians. These estimates are the result of totally independent research. Calderone was basing her estimates on Planned Parenthood's 1955 conference "Abortion in America," in which physicians, public health officials, and even one criminal abortionist worked together to draw as accurate picture as possible. Lee based her estimates on an extensive survey of women who had sought out abortions prior to legalization.

With that in mind, let's look at the women whose deaths we commemorate today.

Chicago, 1892: Dr. Lucy Hagenow

On Monday, December 12, 1892, Emily Anderson of Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, died of peritonitis from a criminal abortion. Emily, widow of Andrew Anderson, kept a boarding house.

Dr. A. P. Ohlenocher, whose office was just up the street from the unfortunate young woman's home, testified that he was called in to attend to her. A woman who was caring for Emily said that one of Emily's boarders, a shoe salesman named Henry Gilbspen, had gotten Emily pregnant. When Ohlenocher questioned Henry, he denied having gotten Emily pregnant, but he did tell the doctor that he had accompanied Emily to Dr. Lucy Hagenow's office at her request, but did not go inside with her.

Dr. Lucy Hagenow
Hagenow denied ever having seen Emily. Gilbspen turned State's evidence against Hagenow, but she was acquitted when the judge instructed the jury to return a not-guilty verdict, concluding on his own that the state had not produced sufficient evidence for a conviction.

Hagenow, who had already been tried multiple times for abortion deaths in San Francisco (Louise Duchow, Annie Dories, Emma Dep, and Abbia Richards) before moving to Chicago, and had already been implicated in the deaths of Minnie Deering and Sophia Kuhn, went on to be tied to nearly a dozen more Cook County abortion deaths: Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie HorvatichLottie Lowy, Nina Pierce, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter, and Mary Moorehead. Hagenow told reporters that she was able to ply her trade so successfully because she bribed officials and police officers.

El Paso, 1917: Dr.  John C. Dysart

Mary Francis Falls died on December 12, 1917 from peritonitis caused by an abortion perpetrated on November 15 by Dr. John C. Dysart in El Paso, Texas. Her mother, Mrs. Stringfield, had reported the abortion to police. 
Mary Francis's sister-in-law testified that after Mary Francis had died, Dysart had prepared a paper for all the concerned parties to sign stating that they would not press for prosecution if he covered the costs for Mary Francis' treatment and funeral expenses.

During Dysart's trial for murder by abortion, Dr. Hugh White testified that Mary Francis had called him about two weeks before her death, saying that she had malaria. Dr. White doubted this an later discovered that his suspicions were correct and that his patient was suffering complications from an abortion. He performed the post-mortem examination and found pus throughout her abdomen.

Dysart's defense was that he had only treated Mary Francis for complications of a self-induced abortion. He
was acquitted on the murder charge after five hours of deliberation. Another unspecified charge related to Mary Francis's death was not dismissed.

Chicago, 1930: Dr. Emil Gleitsman

Dr. Emil Gleitsman
On December 1, 1930, 22-year-old Jeanette Reder underwent a criminal abortion at the Chicago office of Dr. Emil Gleitsman. Jeanette died December 12. Gleitsman was indicted by a grand jury for homicide, but was acquitted on June 15, 1931. The source does not clarify why there was enough evidence to indict Gleitsman, but not enough to convict him.
However, like  Hagenow, Gleitsman was a persistent abortionist. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) noted in 1943 that the Illinois Supreme Court had upheld Gleitsman's 1942 murder by abortion conviction, for which he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. 

Gleitsman was indicted for 22-year-old Lucille van Iderstine's abortion death in 1928 and was convicted three times on a single charge of manslaughter by abortion in the death of 21-year-old Mary Colbert in 1933, but each time his lawyer got a reversal and eventually the prosecutors gave up.

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