Friday, August 21, 2015

Fatal in Colorado, 1923 (and 1929?)

On August 21, 1923, 32-year-old Catherine Stange died in Denver of septicemia due to an abortion blamed on Dr. Daniel R. Lucy. This was quite the scandal, since in addition to being a doctor, Lucy was a city councilman. His high position also meant that he was given warning of his pending arrest for second degree murder, to give him time to arrange bail. Lucy's only comment to the press after being told of the charge against him was to note that he was not surprised, that this was what he had expected from the coroner's jury. He was later acquitted of the charges.

According to the National Organization for Women web site, Ruth Friedl was a married, 27-year-old mother of two living in Denver. NOW's site said that pregnancy was life-threatening for Ruth, but they don't specify why, nor do they say why she was denied an abortion, since there were always exceptions made for abortions deemed necessary to save the mother's life. NOW says that Ruth drank ergot apiol, an herbal abortifacient, on August 21, 1929. That night, according to NOW, Ruth collapsed at the dinner table in front of her husband and children, and died on the spot. The only verification I can find of Ruth's death is a Find-a-Grave memorial for Ruth I. Freidl, 1901-1929, buried in Colorado, and a FaceBook post that has a bit more information and some photos: 

Ruth Irene Friedl (Aug. 24, 1901 - Aug. 21, 1929)After having her daughter, Ruth Friedl was told that another pregnancy would be medically dangerous. When she became pregnant, her uncle, a doctor, said he would not perform an abortion, since he could lose his license and be imprisoned. She did not tell her husband she was pregnant and attempted to self-abort by drinking a plant poison, ergot apiol. She died that night in front of her husband and two small children.
In 1967, Colorado legalized abortion for rape, incest, suspected fetal anomaly, and threat to the mother's health. However, even before then, doctors were allowed to take steps they thought were necessary to save the mother's life. There's no clarification of what risks there were to Ruth, but whatever the risks were, they weren't serious enough that Ruth's physician uncle thought he could do the abortion legally or legally refer her for an abortion. I'd welcome any verifying information on Mrs. Friedl's death. After all, NOW also claims that Becky Bell died from complications of an illegal abortion, when in fact she died of pneumonia concurrent with a miscarriage, and they claim that Pauline Shirley died from an illegal abortion when her death certificate indicates a miscarriage. Their claim that Clara Duvall died from a self-induced abortion is based on what she purportedly told her 12-year-old daughter shortly before her death, which was attributed to pneumonia. It's therefore hardly surprising that I can't find anything to verify that Ruth died from an abortion.

No comments: