Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Doctors and a Midwife Implicated in Historic Abortion Deaths

Sketch of a young woman of the late 19th century
I found so much today when doing supplemental research on today's first death that I'll just present a synopsis. On March 31, 1891,  a sickly young woman boarded a train out of San Francisco, aided by a middle-aged man with enormous muttonchop whiskers.  At Benicia, California, a fellow passenger helped the young woman to leave the train and get into a carriage. She died in the carriage before arriving at her final destination. The young woman was identified as Ida Shaddock. The man who put her on the train was eventually identified as Dr. Samuel Hall. Dr. H. Janeway performed the autopsy. He found damage from a sharp instrument used to perpetrate an abortion. The injuries were so extensive that Dr. Janeway said that it was highly improbable that Ida could have caused them herself. Hall was tried twice for murder in Ida's death. The first trial ended in a hung jury, and the second in an acquittal.

On March 31, 1914, 24-year-old Frances Fergus, formerly of Salt Lake City, died at Chicago's German Evangelical Deaconess Hospital from peritonitis caused by an abortion. Dr. James R. Struble was implicated but released after the coroner's jury inquest. Two years later Struble was implicated in the abortion death of Augusta Bloom.

On March 31, 1926, 24-year-old Louise Maday died at Chicago's West End Hospital from complications of an abortion performed at an earlier date.Midwife Amelia Becker was held by the coroner on April 27.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Safe and Legal in 1986

Gail Wright was 29 years old when she underwent a legal abortion. She was 20 weeks pregnant.
After her abortion, she developed sepsis.

She died of adult respiratory distress syndrome on March 26, 1986, leaving behind a husband.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fatal Abortions from 1848 Through 2000

In January of 1848, 20-year-old Ann Gallager of Boston approached a married friend, Catherine Beath, with the news that she was pregnant. Ann asked Catherine to go with her to Dr. John Stevens to arrange an abortion. "The doctor refused, saying that he was an old man and did not do such things." Ann offered him $50, Catherine said, but Stevens insisted that "he would not do it for all the world." Ann was angry, and went home to try to abort the baby herself. Over the following weeks, Ann tried pouring boiling water over tobacco leaves and breathing the steam as well as drinking some rum in which she had soaked rusty nails before she finally tried a knitting needle, which Catherine took away from her. Ann retorted to Catherine that she was going to do the abortion one way or another. She went to Catherine's house to get the knitting needle for another attempt, this time producing some bleeding. In March, Ann went to Dr. Stebbins, asking for some abortifacient pills. She described her prior attempts at abortion, including the bleeding after the knitting needle attempt. "I told her if she continued to use the means thus far employed, she would kill herself." As March wore on, Ann took ill. She gave a sworn statement that on March 15, she had gone to Dr. John Stevens for an abortion, which he had done with instruments. Two days later, she said, she had expelled the dead baby, a boy. Ann's condition continued to deteriorate until her death on March 25. The primary evidence that the state presented in Dr. Stevens's trial consisted of Ann's statement and the testimony of a jailed prostitute whose story kept changing. Stevens was acquitted.

Delia Bell, aged 14 in 1889, had been the product of her mother's first marriage, in Texas. After a divorce, she had moved to Birmingham, Alabama and married a Mr. McDermott. She separated from him, suing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, and set up a small dressmaking shop that she ran with Delia. The two of them lived with a Mrs. Bell, who I presume was Delia's maternal grandmother. Evidently the women in that house were not of the highest repute, and neighbors reported an unseemly coming and going of men. When Delia took violently ill on a Sunday morning, the neighbors were suspicious. Three doctors were called in to care for the girl on March 25. "All the aids known to medical science were tried without avail, and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon it was decided to resort to an operation." One of the doctors concluded that Delia's mother had known that she was pregnant, but her grandmother hadn't. The doctors notified the coroner and turned over a bottle to him that had contained an abortifacient traced to a man named George A. Foule of East Birmingham. Foule was a saloon keeper. He called his potion a treatment for "blood diseases and feminine troubles" -- a code for abortifacient.

A five-story, boxy red-brick building with many windows, two chimneys, and a fire escape
Ravenswood Hospital
On March 25, 1909, 37-year-old homemaker Carrie Pearson died at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by 39-year-old midwife Caroline Meyer of on March 18 at 447 Wells Street. Meyer was held by the coroner but the case resulted in a hung jury.

Homemaker Celia Schultz, age 29, died in a Chicago home from septicemia caused by an abortion on March 25, 1910. A woman named Mary Rommell was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury. The source document does not indicate her profession, or that the case ever went to trial.

On March 25, 1916, Angela Raia of Astoria, Long Island died, evidently from the results of an abortion. Her husband Ignazio sued two doctors, Harlan E. Linehan and Dennis McAuliffe, for $400, asserting that their negligence had caused Angela's death. McAuliffe joined the military and went to France. Linehan joined a medical advisory board and was busy with his duties at the time the suit was filed. He offered to settle with Angela's husband, saying that he wanted "to relieve himself of the annoyance of the case." Angela's husband took the offer.

Headshot of a miiddle-aged bespectacled man who is looking down
Emil Gleitsman
In the spring of 1933, Edward Dettman's 21-year-old girlfriend, Mary Colbert, told him that she'd missed her period and asked him, "What can be done?" Later, during the inquest over her death, he said that he'd responded, "I don't know, that was up to her." He had, he said, offered to marry her, but she'd refused, saying she didn't want to marry "in disgrace." Her aunt, on the other hand, said that Mary told her that she didn't want to marry anybody at all at that point in her life. Once Mary elected to seek an abortion, Edward took her to Dr. Emil Gleitsman. Afterward, Mary took ill and confided in her aunts. One, Annie Cullinan recalled having asked her, "Mamie, why did you not tell me, and I would get a good doctor." Mary died on March 25. 
A middle-aged white man with short hair and glasses wearing a white shirt with the collar open
Dr. Henrie
On March 3, 1962, Dr. W.J. Bryan Henrie, an osteopath, performed an abortion on 33-year-old Jolene Joyce Griffith, at his clinic in Grove, Oklahoma. Jolene developed an infection, and, according to her survivors, Griffith abandoned her and provided no care to treat the infection. On March 10, Jolene was admitted to a hospital in Tulsa. She died there on March 25, leaving behind a husband and three minor children. Henire was conviced, and served 25 months of a 4-year sentence. Upon his release, he went right back to doing abortions. Abortion rights activists continue to revere Henrie, and to totally ignore the fate of Jolene Griffith. What's a few dead women among friends?

On March 25, 2000, 22-year-old Maria Rodriguez went to Steve Lichtenberg's Albany Medical Surgical Center  in Chicago for a late second trimester abortion. Albany is part of Family Practice Associates Medical Group, a large chain of abortion clinics and founding member of the National Abortion Federation. Lichtenberg estimated Maria's pregnancy at 18 weeks and went ahead with the what a later expert consultant called "a seemingly uncomplicated (albeit short) procedure." At about 9:00 a.m., Maria was showing signs of shock from hemorrhage. The expert consultant pointed out that Lichtenberg had failed to notice that he had ruptured Maria's uterus. Lichtenburg treated the bleeding with methods that would contract the uterus but would not, of course, address a rupture. He continued to deal with the emergency at his clinic for an hour and a half before somebody called 911. Doctors at the hospital tried to save her, to no avail, she died that evening. 
N.B. At a National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar in the 1990s, Michael Burnhill of the Alan Guttmacher Institute scolded Lichtenberg for "playing Russian roulette" with patients' lives by performing risky abortions in an outpatient setting and treating serious complications on site in his procedure room rather than transporting them to a hospital. Evidently Lichtenberg chose not to listen to Burnhill's warning. Maria was not the only woman to die at an FPA facility. Other women to die from abortions at FPA facilities include Denise Holmes,  Patricia Chacon,  Mary Pena,  Josefina Garcia,  Lanice Dorsey,  Joyce Ortenzio,  Tami Suematsu,  Deanna Bell,  Susan Levy,  Christina Mora,  Ta Tanisha WessonNakia Jorden,  Maria Leho,  Kimberly Neil, and Chanelle Bryant.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Doctors, a Dentist, and a Mystery Abortionist

On March 24, 1870, Catherine "Kate" Shields died in Jersey City from an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Charles Cobel. "The infamous doctor was arrested, as was also one Patrick Waterson, charged with having outraged the person of the unfortunate girl." The coroner's jury also reprimanded Mrs. Downes, who kept a Jersey City boardinghouse, for failing to properly look after Kate. Kate had come to the United States in July of 1868, leaving her mother behind in Ireland. She took a job as a servant in Waterson's boardinghouse, which was tenanted by train conductors and drivers from the Bergen railroad depot. When Kate became pregnant, she traveled to New York City, where Cobel perpetrated the abortion. During the coroner's inquest, a letter from Cobel to Waterson was produced, in which he demanded $25 for the abortion, threatening to sue if he did not get his fee. Cobel had already been held responsible for the 1856 death of Catharine DeBreuxal, the 1858 death of. Amelia Weber, the 1865 death of Emma Wolfer. He was later implicated in the 1875 death of Antoinette Fennor.

On March 24, 1905, 28-year-old Ida Alice Bloom, a Swedish immigrant working as a domestic servant, died suddenly in Chicago from septic peritonitis caused by an apparent criminal abortion perpetrated on or about March 15. Dr. Julius N. Goltz as arrested as a principal, and James McDonald as an accessory. Both men were held without bail by a coroner's jury. Alice's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

On March 24, 1915, 31-year-old Frances Kulczyk died at her Chicago home from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator. Frances, who kept house and worked as a scrub woman, was the widow of Walter Kulzyk,who had worked as a molder in a foundry. With Frances' death, the three children, all under the age of 10, were left orphans.

On March 21, 1947, Ilene Lorraine Eagen, age 24, was brought to Mankato, Minnesota, to the dental office ofW. A. Groebner for an abortion. Court records indicate that Ilene was pressured into the abortion by her paramour, Raymond Older, who refused to marry her and threatened her with bodily harm if she refused an abortion. After the abortion, Ilene became violently ill and lost consciousness. Groebner and Older failed to seek or provide properly care for the sick woman. Instead, Older took Ilene to his service station in Granada, Minnesota and kept her there through the remainder of the night, into the morning of March 22. Older allowed Ilene to languish without medical care. She died March 24, leaving a seven-year-old daughter motherless. Older tried to escape civil liability on the grounds that despite his refusal to marry her, and the threats, Ilene had consented to the abortion and that therefore she was responsible for her own sickness and subsequent death.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Fatal Work of Three Doctors and a Mystery Abortionist

On March 23, 1905, Mrs. Ida Pomering, a 30-year-old German immigrant, died in Chicago from an abortion performed earlier that day. Dr. Apollonia Heinle was held by the coroner's jury for Ida's death.

On March 23, 1907, Dora Swan, age 24, died at Englewood Union Hospital in Chicago from infection caused by a criminal abortion that had been perpetrated on March 16. Dora, wife of a railroad worker, had been living with her mother at the time. Dr. Louise Achtenberg, who was identified as the abortionist, was called to the home several days after the abortion to attend to Dora. It wasn't until the family physician was consulted that Dora was hospitalized. Though Actenberg was held responsible by the coroner, but there is no record that charges were filed. Achtenberg, a doctor identified as a midwife due to her obstetric work, had been implicated in the 1909 abortion deaths of Stella Kelly and Florence Wright. She was also implicated in the 1921 abortion death of Violet McCormick. Later, in 1924, it was Dr. Louise Achtenberg who was held responsible for the death of Madelyn Anderson.

On March 23, 1917, 19-year-old Mary Conners died at Chicago's County Hospital, refusing to name the abortionist who had fatally injured her that day.

Lynn McNair, age 23, died March 23, 1979 after an abortion performed by Edward Rubin at Jewish Memorial Hospital in New York, NY.  Lynn was 23 weeks pregnant when she was injected with saline by Dr. Edward Rubin at Jewish Memorial Hospital. The first injection of saline failed to kill the fetus, so Lynn was given a second injection. After this second dose, Lynn went into contractions and slipped into a coma. She died March 23, 1979 of a pulmonary embolism of amniotic fluid. She left two children motherless.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reprint: A Fetus With Attitude

Scary Stuff

Some things are just too scary to contemplate. For Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (D-CO), like other abortion-advocating members of the House Judiciary Committee, there's nothing scarier than having a fetus speak about abortion.

I'm not talking about hallucinations or nightmares. If the Hon. Ms. Schroeder is visited by fetuses in her dreams or visions, she hasn't shared the news with the world at large. I'm talking about a real fetus: flesh and blood, targeted for an abortion, subjected to an abortion technique, somehow lived to tell the tale. And Ms. Schroeder would probably rather face a graveyard full of George Romero zombies than a single real human being who is alive despite its mother's attempt to abort it.

Ms. Schroeder did not express her reluctance to meet the fetus in terms of fear. No. Ms. Schroeder sent her regrets on the grounds that having a fetus speak on abortion is an underhanded attempt to "undermine the public’s consistent and overwhelming support for Roe v. Wade." Well, Ms. Schroeder, what do you expect? Consistent and overwhelming fetal support for Roe v. Wade?

The fetus said what anybody left with cerebral palsy from the toxic effects of abortion chemicals might be expected to say: that being aborted isn't very pleasant. That abortion wreaks havoc on fetuses. That fetuses, given their druthers, would rather be left unmolested. This should come as a surprise to nobody. And if Ms. Schroeder later developed an itching curiosity about exactly what a fetus would have to say about abortion, she could always read the transcript later.

Ms. Schroeder's refusal to hear the fetus speak was clearly a case of sticking to her guns. First, thanks to Roe v. Wade, the fetus was scalded with hypertonic saline, expelled prematurely, and left in a bedpan to die -- which was all good and proper as spelled out by the Constitution, right? No problem. But then something went wrong. Some nurse spirited the fetus away to a hospital nursery, whence it was adopted by some nutcase right-to-lifer who had enough of a fetish for fetuses to want one around the house. The fetus had multiple surgeries to enable it to walk. The fetus even learned to talk. The fetus became old enough to vote. Then the fetus had the unmitigated gall to speak to its elected officials. The nerve of some non-people!

The Nerve of Some Non-People!

Ms. Schroeder's outrage is understandable. The majority opinion in Roe v. Wade clearly stated, "The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a 'person' within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment." In other words, if a fetus is a person, you can't kill it. The whole foundation of Roe v. Wade would collapse like a house of cards if a fetus was able to demonstrate that it's a person. So when an aborted fetus limps up to the podium and reads its prepared comments, that's good news for fetuses, but bad news for somebody who gets campaign support from the abortion establishment.

This put Ms. Schroeder in a tight position. Since the fetus in question was sitting in a Congressional chamber rather than in Ms. Schroeder's uterus, The Hon. Ms. Schroeder had no Constitutional grounds for bringing in a qualified physician to complete the botched abortion and evacuate the troublesome fetus. Due to some grave judicial oversight, Blackmun et. al. had failed to allow for the proper disposal of ex-uterine fetuses with opinions of their own to express. Ms. Schroeder couldn't silence this fetus. But that didn't mean she had to listen to it.

Prolifers have always quipped that if fetuses could vote, abortion would quickly be outlawed. Well, after roughly thirty years of more-or-less unfettered abortion, some of the fetuses who slipped through the cracks have reached voting age. If we only count those who survived actual abortion attempts (rather than count all people under age 30, who gestated in a shooting gallery of sorts and are mightily lucky to have emerged alive) there are about 100,000 of them walking, limping, wheeling, or lying around (depending upon how badly injured they were by the abortion attempt), at large or in institutions of some kind here in the United States. Only about a third of them have reached voting age, so they're not much of a bloc for candidates to worry about in an election year.

But they've started speaking out. And that has abortion advocates shaking in their shoes. Because sooner or later some less-enlightened Supreme Court is likely to mistake them for people.