Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Safe and Legal, an Abortion Ring, and Other Cases

The First of Two Deaths in Two Years

Mary Bradley, a 41-year-old mother of four, underwent a safe, legal 20-week abortion performed Dr. George Wayne Patterson in March of 1985. Because of severe bleeding, she was admitted to a hospital and had a total hysterectomy on March 28. Mary developed blood clotting and respiratory difficulties, and finally died on April 4, 1985.

According to official documents, another Alabama woman, Janyth Caldwell, died the following year after an abortion performed by Patterson.

A Multi-State Abortion Ring

New York police had been investigating an abortion ring when they got a tip, possibly trough a wire tap, that a woman was at the practice, seriously injured. Accompanied by an ambulance, police broke into a private home at 2753 Sexton Place, in the Pelham section of the Bronx, on April 4, 1954. There they found Gertrude Pinsky, age 35, dead from septic poisoning from an illegal abortion. Gertrude, who had worked as a civilian employee at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, had been left fully clothed, complete with topcoat, propped up sitting in a chair. She had died of sepsis.

Police arrested Florence Cavalluzzo, a former practical nurse and resident of the home, and Hugo Francese, a physician who had lost his license in 1947 related to, as far as I can determine, drug charges. He also had been arrested twice in the past for committing abortions.

Later arrested were Jack M. Werner, owner of Werner Surgical Supplies, and Ignatius Cavalluzzo, Florence Cavalluzzo's son, along with Mrs. Elizabeth Blum, a convicted abortionist who was promptly picked up for violating her parole.

To add to the creepiness of the situation, the home was owned by a butcher and his wife, James and Mary Amodeo, who evidently rented space for abortions at $25 a pop. The Amodeos plea-bargained down to conspiracy to commit abortion, which was a misdemeanor, in exchange for their cooperation in the investigation of a three-state abortion ring. They were given a suspended sentence.

Dr. Samuel E. Witt was charged with referring women to the ring, evidently run by Dr. Herbert S. Wolfe. Four doctors were charged with referring women and receiving a $30 kickback for each referral: Joseph F. Pacelli, Abraham Cohen, Kalman Molnar, and Poon Lim. The abortions themselves cost between $200 and $400.

Francese and Florence Cavalluzzo were convicted of first-degree manslaughter in Gertrude's death and sentenced to 12 1/2 to 15 years for first degree manslaughter . A police detective, Valentine J. Stewart, found at the home at the time of the raid, was acquitted. Stewart's son, police patrolman Joseph F. Stewart, was also implicated as a conspirator in the ring.

Guilty of Manslaughter

3/4 profile of a middle-aged white man in a jacket and tie
Dr. Charles Gordon
On March 30, 1939, Dr. Charles I. Gordon, evidently of previously good repute, was found guilty of manslaughter in the first degree for the abortion death of 39-year-old Rose Glickfield. Gordon had perpetrated the abortion at his office on April 2, 1937. She evidently remained at his office, because she died in transit from his office to a hospital by ambulance on April 4.

Deathbed Statement but No Prosecution

On April 4, 1907, Mrs. Norma Beck, age 32, died at Lakeside Hospital in Chicago from septic peritonitis caused by a criminal abortion perpetrated at the office of Dr. Thomas J Balhatchett on March 24.

Dr. James W. Walker and Dr. H. N. Richter had attended Normal at the hospital, and relayed Norma's deathbed statement to police. She directly implicated Balhatchett. Some of her relatives and friends also spoke to the police, fingering Balhatchett.

Balhollchett was held by the coroner's jury and indicted, but there is no record that the case went to trial.

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