Sunday, March 20, 2016

An Atypical and Two Typical Criminal Abortions

The first death we memorialize today was highly unusual in that it was an amateur abortion.

Anna Gosch's boyfriend, Mr. Edwards, admitted that they'd had a sexual relationship, and that she had called him to tell him that her period was late. He admitted that he went to the town of Kearney, and got a hotel room with the intent of perpetrating an abortion. Edwards wouldn't say what happened in the hotel room. He did say that the next day he took her to her home, and using a speculum he tried to insert a catheter into her uterus, which at the time was a method often used by doctors to cause an abortion. Edwards, however, couldn't get the catheter inserted. He said that Anna went upstairs and returned with a catheter with a wire in it, which would stiffen it for insertion. He said that the wire did its job in allowing him to get the catheter inserted. He then bent the wire and threw it away. A witness in the later trial, however, said that Edwards denied having done the abortion himself. He said that Anna had gone upstairs, then come down and told him that she thought "she had done it." 

Anna's abortion was unusual in that it was performed by an amateur, rather than by a doctor,as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

A physician, Dr. Cameron, was called on Thursday, March 15, to care for Anna. He saw her twice a day until the Monday before her death. Dr. Cameron testified,"I asked her what had been done to make her sick, and she said there had been a man had passed an instrument into her with a wire in it, rubber with a wire in it. I asked her when that had been done, and she said Monday; she thought it was Monday night." When asked about who the man was, "She said he was a man who traveled for rubber goods or instruments of some kind, said he was a traveling man."

Anna Gosch died on Tuesday, March 20, 1906, at 6:10 PM. Edwards was convicted of homicide. Anna's death is similar to the death of "Daisy" Roe, a systems analyst who died in 1990 after allowing her boyfriend to attempt to perform an abortion on her with a piece of aquarium tubing. Unlike Anna's boyfriend, however, Daisy's boyfriend was not prosecuted for her death.

The other two abortions were typical Chicago abortions, perpetrated by physicians.

On March 20, 1916, 19-year-old housemaid Bertha Carlson died at South Park Hospital in Chicago from septic infection as a result of a criminal abortion. On her deathbed, Bertha identified Dr. A. F. Butler as her abortionist. At the time of Bertha's death he was suffering from some sort of paralysis that kept him from testifying at an investigation into her death.

On March 20, 1926, 19-year-old Alice Annalora died at the County Hospital in Chicago from complications of an abortion performed that day. Dr. Wilford Vine was booked for Alice's death, as was her husband, Joseph Annalora. Vine was indicted for felony murder. Ultimately, the coroner was unable to determine the legal status of the abortion that killed Alice, so Dr. Vine and Mr. Annalora were released. Alice's abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

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