Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Abortion Deaths: 1876, 1919, 1924, 1972

New York Midwife, 1876

Matilda Beringer, age 34 arranged for an abortion, which was perpetrated by midwife Johanna White at her New York practice in mid-March of 1876. Immediately Matilda began to experience severe pain so she went straight home and took to her bed. On Saturday, May 14, Dr. William Fayner was called on to care for her and found her suffering from peritonitis. When his efforts to treat her did not have the desired effect he brought in a second physician, Dr. Samuel Gluck to consult. The two continued to treat her until her death on May 17.

Matilda's husband, Edward, told authorities the he'd heard gossip about his wife but that she had never said anything to him about the abortion. The police evidently had no reason to doubt him, since he was not charged as an accessory in his wife's death. When arrested, White admitted to having perpetrated the abortion and was held on $2,000 bond.

Unknown in Chicago, 1919

On May 17, 1919, 27-year-old nurse Gertrude Schaefer, a widow, died at Chicago's Wesley Hospital from septicemia caused by an abortion perpetrated by an unidentified person. Given the plethora of physicians and midwives operating with little let or hindrance in Chicago at the time, it is likely that Gertrude had availed herself of one of them.

A Chicago Doctor, 1924

On April 2, 1924, 26-year-old homemaker Mary Whitney underwent an abortion at the Chicago office of Dr. Lou E. Davis. On May 17, Mary died at St. Mary's Hospital of complications of that abortion. Dr. Davis was held by the coroner on May 19. Davis was also implicated in five other Chicago abortion deaths:

Mary's abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was performed by a physician, though Chicago in that era also had a plethora of midwives who practiced abortion.

Safe and Legal in New York, 1972

"Danielle," age 18, had decided to take advantage of the liberalized law, and traveled from Massachusetts to New York for a safe and legal abortion.  The abortion was performed on May 17, 1972. Minutes after the abortion was completed, Danielle was dead. She'd developed arterial and venous air emboli (air in her blood stream).

The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to "Danielle," these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York: "Judy" Roe, July 12, 1970; Carmen Rodriguez, July 19, 1970; Barbara Riley, July 20, 1970; "Amanda" Roe, September 22, 1970; Maria Ortega, October 10, 1970; "Kimberly" Roe, December 23, 1970; "Amy" Roe, January 2, 1971; "Andrea" Roe, January 20, 1971; "Sandra" Roe, April 18, 1971; "Anita" Roe, May 11, 1971; Margaret Smith, June 16 1971; "Annie" Roe, June 24, 1971; "Audrey" Roe, July 1, 1971; "Vicki" Roe, August 17, 1971; "April" Roe, August 22, 1971; "Barbara" Roe, September 23, 1971; "Tammy" Roe, October 13, 1971; Carole Schaner, October 20, 1971; "Beth" Roe, December 29, 1971; "Roseann" Roe, February 27, 1971; "Connie" Roe, March 8, 1972; "Julie" Roe, April 16, 1972; "Robin" Roe, May 4, 1972; and "Roxanne" Roe, May 13, 1972.

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