Monday, January 23, 2017

Five Chicago Abortion Deaths

A Disgraced Ex-Doctor, 1944

Portrait of a smiling young white woman with fine features and dark, shoulder-length hair
Geraldine Schuyler
Geraldine Schuyler, age 20, was a secretary at Matthewson Electric Company in Chicago when she learned that she was pregnant in January of 1944. She turned to her mother, Leah Schuyler, who went with her on Monday, January 17 to meet one of Leah's friends, 49-year-old Mrs. Avis Konradt. Konradt, a nurse, took them to a rooming house where 79-year-old George E. Fosberg was caretaker. Fosberg was a physician whose license had been revoked in 1930 when he'd gone to prison for bank fraud. Mrs. Schuyler paid Fosberg $100, and he took Geraldine into the basement for the abortion, accompanied by Konradt.

Geraldine started to become ill on January 20. By the night of Saturday, January 22, she took a sudden turn for the worse and was quickly taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston shortly before midnight. Less than half an hour later, she was dead.

Mrs. Schuyler told the police what had happened, and led them to the rooming house, where police found him "in the dusty basement of the house, walking thru stacks of his old records as a physician." The police confiscated seven sets of surgical instruments.

Fosberg was convicted of manslaughter rather than the more serious charge of murder by abortion. The judge had originally sentenced him to serve 14 years in prison. The sentence was deferred while Fosberg tried to get a new trial. The attempt failed. However, Fosberg's attorney argued that due to his client's age, a 14-year sentence was equivalent to a death sentence. Fosberg was sentenced to between one and three years. I have been unable to learn anything about the outcome of the charges against Avis Konradt.

A Lay Abortionist, 1929

As was the case nationwide before legalization, the majority of Chicago's illegal abortionists were midwives or physicians, though there were the occasional lay abortionists such as Katherine Bajda, identified as a homemaker in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database. Despite not being a medical professional, Bajda benefited from Chicago's catch-and-release system of dealing with deadly abortionists.

On January 23, 1929, 22-year-old Edna Vargo died in Chicago from an abortion performed that day, Bajda was held by the Coroner on February 14. On March 15, she was indicted for felony murder in Edna's death. Three days later, while free to ply her trade, Bajda got caught with 25-year-old abortion patient Violet Diancalana dead in her home.

An Unidentified Perp, 1925

On January 23, 1925, 34-year-old Kate Radochouski died at Chicago's Lakeside Hospital from complications of an abortion performed that day. The Homicide in Chicago database says that she died at the scene of the crime, and that there was an arrest on February 11. But there is no name given for the person arrested. No perpetrator was ever identified.

A Midwife, 1914

On January 23, 1914, 17-year-old Helen Kleich, who worked as a domestic servant, died at Cook County Hospital from sepsis, arising from an abortion perpetrated on January 17 by midwife Margared Wiedemann. Wiedemann was held by the Coroner for murder by abortion, but was acquitted.

Another Midwife, 1913

On January 23, 1913, 32-year-old homemaker. Margaret Wagner died at Post Graduate Hospital in Chicago from septic infection caused by an abortion perpetrated on January 9. The suspected abortionist was midwife Caroline Orbach. Orbach was held by the Coroner on January 24. The case went to trial but Orbach was acquitted on November 25 for reasons I have been unable to determine.

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