Friday, November 18, 2016

Mostly the Work of Doctors

A New York Doctor, 1953

Joyce Chorney, age 25, died Wednesday, November 18, 1953. An autopsy was performed at Bellevue Hospital. It showed that she had died of an induced abortion. Fifty-four-year-old Dr. Alfred Joseph was charged with criminal abortion in her death.

A New York Doctor, 1942

On November 18, 1942, 26-year-old Madlyon McGeehan died at Prospect Hospital in New York of peritonitis after an illegal abortion. Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, age 58, was arrested for homicide and held on $150,000 bail. His nurse, Camille Ewald, was held on $150,000 bail. His receptionist, Pearl Tense, and Dr. Max J. Weinstein, who was thought to have referred Madeline to Nisonoff, were also arrested.

At the time of Madlyon's death, Nisonoff was out on bail after being charged with performing another abortion, which the woman survived. During six hours of questioning, he denied any knowledge of Madlyon's death. A man identified as Madlyon's friend, Henry Elters, was held as a material witness on $15,000 bail.

Elters reportedly told Assistant District Attorney James Carney that he had known Madlyon for about seven years, and that they had gone to Nisonoff's office in Queens on November 13. They gave Ewald $600. She told Elters to "take a walk." He returned to find Madlyon resting on a couch.

On November 15, Elters was told that Madlyon needed a blood transfusion. She was admitted to Prospect Hospital as Betty McGee. After her death there, she was correctly identified by her sister, Mary, who had come came from the family home at Hazleton, PA, to claim Madlyon's body.

Nisonoff was sentenced to 5 years in state prison, and Weinstein was sentenced to the city penitentiary. As a result of the McGeehan case, the New York District Attorney's office began investigating other possible abortion rings in the city.

A Chicago Doctor, 1917

I came to know about the death of 29-year-old Ellen Matson in a roundabout way, in studying the case in which Lillian Hobbs was convicted of murder in the 1916 abortion death of 21-year-old Alda Christopherson. During the trial, the prosecution brought up, as evidence of guilty intent, the fact that Hobbs had been indicted already for the abortion death of Ellen. Ellen was 29 years old, daughter of Swedish immigrants. In October of 1917, she told her boyfriend, Charles Morehouse, that she was pregnant, and had been taking quinine unsuccessfully to try to abort. Morehouse accompanied Ellen to a doctor, from whom he bought a box of “brown pills.” Ellen took these every hour for over two weeks, but like the quinine, they failed to cause an abortion.

Morehouse found another doctor and started borrowing money from relatives to pay for an abortion. Ellen confided in her mother, her sister, and her aunt. Though the two older women thought the abortion was a bad idea and tried to dissuade her, Ellen's aunt lent her $5.

Morehouse took Ellen to Dr. Lillian Hobbs' office on November 1, and evidently stayed with her throughout the actual procedure, since he later testified that the doctor had used “a spray” on Ellen's “privated [sic] parts.” He left her with the doctor for aftercare, returning later to take Ellen home. She took ill and was taken to Hobbs' home, where her mother and sister visited her. Ellen was taken to West End Hospital in Chicago, where she died on November 18.

Dr. Jacob Meyer, part owner of West End Hospital, and Dr. D. E. Boissonneault, the head intern, also testified at the inquest, along with several nurses from the hospital. The inquest began the next day, and Lillian Hobbs was identified as the guilty abortionist. Hobbs was convicted and sentenced to 14 years at Joliet. Hobbs was also implicated, but never tried, for the 1917 abortion death of Ruth Lemaire.

An Unspecified Professio in Chicago, 1909

On November 18, 1909, Anna Pozajevich, age 24, died in Chicago home from an abortion performed on November 7. Julia Adamovitch was indicted by a grand jury. Her profession is given only as "abortion provider". She was tried and acquitted for reasons not given in the source document.

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