Friday, August 14, 2020

August 14: Green Apples, Multiple Deaths, and a Misguided "Natural" Approach to Abortion

Blamed on Green Apples, Chicago, 1908

On August 14, 1908, 23-year-old homemaker Bertha Isserstadt, a Jewish immigrant from Austria, died at Chicago's Evangelical Deconesses' Hospital from complications of an abortion perpetrated on August 5. A woman named Margaret Wiedman, age 39, was held by the coroner. Weidman insisted that she had been summoned to Bertha's home on June 13 and asked to perform an abortion but she had refused. Bertha's death, she said, was caused by eating green apples.

Dr. Albert Schopmann testified that he was called in on July 13 to attend to Bertha, realized that she was suffering from abortion complications, and hospitalized her. Wiedman was arrested based on statements from Schopmann and others at the hospital.

I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case.

New source: "Held for Illegal Operation," Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1908

Safe and Legal in Los Angeles, 1984

Yvonne Tanner, a 22-year-old  mother of a young daughter, had a safe and legal abortion performed by Stephen Pine and/or Morton Barke July 10, 1984 at Inglewood Women's Hospital. Yvonne went into a coma immediately after the abortion, and died August 14, 1984. Her death certificate indicates coma, hypertension, and urinary tract infection. The suit by her survivors alleged that Yvonne was not adequately advised of the risks prior to undergoing the fatal abortion. 

Yvonne was the fifth woman I know of to die after abortions at Inglewood Women's Hospital. Those who died before her were Kathy Murphy (1973), Lynette Wallace (1975), Elizabeth Tsuji (1978), and Cora Lewis (1983). The last death there that I know of is Belinda Byrd (1987).

"Natural" Abortion, California, 1994

Kris Humphrey
Kris Humphrey placed a high value on "self-determination" and doing things "naturally." She viewed modern medicine suspiciously, since her stepbrother had died from an allergic reaction to a medication. When she had gone to Planned Parenthood to abort a previous pregnancy, she had felt that they were trying to shame her. So after a positive pregnancy test in 1994, Kris didn't follow up on the referral to Planned Parenthood that her university health office had offered her. Instead, she consulted a friend who had reported success twice with a "natural" home abortion brew using pennyroyal and black cohosh root. On August 5, Kris began using the tea. Her friends thought all was well as Kris began to experience some vaginal bleeding over the succeeding days. 

Kris's mother, Embee, however, was worried and urged Kris to get an ultrasound to make sure she didn't have an ectopic pregnancy. Kris grew ill and suffered pelvic pain and her friends grew concerned as well. Finally on Friday, August 12, Kris agreed to take a friend up on the offer of a loan and to go to Planned Parenthood for a clinic abortion on the 13th. Kris never made it. She collapsed overnight and began having seizures. Her friends called 911 and brought the abortion tea ingredients to the hospital with their friend. Kris had developed severe clotting problems and was bleeding from every orifice as well as all of her piercing sites. In a desperate attempt to save their patient's life, doctors did exploratory surgery and discovered that Kris had been trying to abort an embryo that had lodged in her fallopian tube. The embryo had died and become a site for infection. Removing the tube and the pregnancy, however, couldn't undo the damage Kris had done to her liver by continuing to take the pennyroyal concoction. She was taken off life support and declared dead on August 14. 

Another abortion death due to pennyroyal ingestion is Sharran Parks, who died on Colorado on November 22, 1978.

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