Monday, April 03, 2017

Two Busy Abortionists and Other Sad Cases

Safe and Legal in Texas

Sixteen-year-old Maureen Espinoza underwent a safe, legal abortion at a doctor's office in San Antonio on March 28, 1997. During the abortion, the doctor punctured Maureen's uterus, but didn't note this in her medical records or say anything to her about it, indicating that he simply didn't notice. Maureen was sent home. On April 3, she went to the emergency room at Northeast Baptist Hospital. Over the ensuing days, doctors there performed two surgeries to try to save her life, but to no avail. She died on April 15, 1997.

Nearing the End for Dr. Justin Mitchell
A youngish white man with a high forehead and dark hair, facing the camera, with a pale colored jacket and dark necktie
Dr. Justin Mitchell
On February 12, 1936, Dr. Justin Mitchell, age 57, of Chicago was convicted of manslaughter in the April 3, 1935 abortion death of 32-year-old Mary Nowalowski.  Eleven days before his conviction, another of Mitchell's patients, Alice Haggin, died from abortion complications. Two years earlier, Mitchell had been implicated in the abortion death of Mary Schwartz.

The prime witness in the case was milk wagon driver Stephen Zakes. He and Mary were planning a wedding for the upcoming May.  On March 27, Stephen brought Mary to the Chicago office of Dr. Victor J. Neale. He then met with the couple together, telling them that Mary was between two and two and a half months pregnant. Mary began to cry and ask Neale, "What will I do?"

Stephen testified that Neale had referred them to Dr. Justin Mitchell; Neale insisted that he had simply told them they could go to some busy corner and find an abortionist.

Stephen and Mary went to Mitchell's office on the evening of Friday, March 29. Mitchell examined Mary and confirmed that she was pregnant. She was at least eight weeks along, Mitchell said, and if she returned the following morning at 8:00 he would perform an abortion. The fee would be $50. He assured them that there was no danger for Mary to undergo the procedure.

Stephen Zakes went to Mitchell's office at around 11:00 the morning of Saturday, March 30 to see how Mary was doing after the abortion. "She will be all right, she is in a little pain right now." Stephen went to see Mary himself and found her to be in excruciating pain, unable to even sit up. Mitchell insisted to him, "They are all weak after an operation of that kind."

Stephen escorted Mary home. She was weak and chilly. They stopped at a drug store for coffee and toast, then walked to a cab stand where Mary became violently ill. After Stephen took Mary home, she immediately took to her bed. Dr. Neale was summoned to examine her. Neale provided morphine for Mary's pain before leaving. Stephen remained with her until about 1:00 in the morning on Sunday, March 31.

Somebody brought Dr. G. M. Redman to Mary's home between 4:00 and 5:00 that morning. He found Mary in such grave shape that he immediately took her to his car and drove her to the hospital.

Mary was given medicine to contract her uterus but she continued to bleed so Redman contacted the coroner's office then performed a curretage of Mary's uterus. Her cervix had already been damaged, showing tearing and pus. During the curretage, Redman retrieved the head of Mary's fetus along with retained portions of the placenta.

Redman's care notwithstanding, Mary died on Wednesday, April 3. A postmortem examination concluded that Mary's uterus had developed gangrene due to the abortion, and that she had died of hemorrhage and septic shock.

One of Dr. Thacker's Cluster of Victims

Headshot of a middle-aged white man with a very high forehead, large nose, and dour expression
Dr. Richard Thacker
Ethel Hestland, age 30, died on April 3, 1932, in the Oklahoma City area from a criminal abortion. Her death certificate was signed by Dr. Richard E. Thacker. Thacker had been implicated for a string of other abortion deaths, including:
  • Marie Epperson, February, 1929, Thacker suspected
  • Isobel F. Ferguson, April, 1932, Thacker suspected, sued by widower
  • Ruth Hall, April, 1932: Thacker convicted of murder
  • Lennis May Roach, April, 1932: Thacker implicated by multiple witnesses; outcome of case unknown to me
  • Nancy Joe Lee, April, 1932: Thacker implicated by multiple witnesses; outcome of case unknown to me
  • Robbie Lou Thompson, April, 1932: Thacker implicated by multiple witnesses; outcome of case unknown to me
I believe that Thacker wasn't prosecuted for the other deaths because the successful conviction for Ruth Hall's death took him off the streets.

A Chicago Midwife

On April 3, 1928, 30-year-old homemaker Stefania Kwit, a native of Poland, died from complications of a criminal abortion believed to have been performed that day by 45-year-old midwife Pauline Majerczyk. On May 3, Mauerczyk was held by the coroner for murder by abortion, and indicted for felony murder on May 15. Evidently she remained free, because she is still listed as a midwife living in Chicago in the 1930 Federal census. She would have blended in well in Chicago, where midwife-abortionists were common in that era.

An Unknown Perpetrator

On April 3, 1919, 22-year-old homemaker Mary Kizior, a native of Poland, died at Chicago's Jefferson Park Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by an unknown suspect.

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