Sunday, August 23, 2020

August 23: "Tommy gave it to me!"

Fatal Abortifacient, 1870

Mary Ann Lafavor, the 15-year-old wife of Frank Lafavor, was "the victim of ... inhuman outrage".  Frank had married his young bride over the objections of her family in March of 1870. The couple had settled as tenants on the farm of Thomas McIntyre in Pilot Mound Township, Minnesota. On August 15, she went missing from her home. "The neighbors became alarmed at her absence from home and made search for her in every direction without success" until about midnight, "when she was discovered dragging herself around the corner of her dwelling more dead than alive." Two doctors came to her aid and found her to be in critical condition. She admitted that she had taken some sort of abortifacient that day, but refused to say who she had gotten it from. "Everything possible was done to restore her, but after suffering intensely for a whole week and died on Tuesday morning last [August 23] at about eight o'clock." Mrs. Lafavor's mother testified that her daughter was raised up in bed five minutes before her death to make her dying declaration, but all she was able to say was, "Tommy gave it to me! Tommy gave it to me!" Thus the young bride's landlord, Thomas McIntyre, was charged with her death. (Untitled clipping, The St. Cloud Journal, September 1, 1870; "Minnesota," Chicago Tribune, September 2, 1870)

A Doctor in Chicago, 1906

Mrs. Anna May Klanenberg, age 24, died on August 23, 1906, four hours after she was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago with complications of an illegal abortion. Dr. J. W. Mitchell, Dr. Hugh Wisdom, and Dr. Edward Alford attended to the dying woman, with perhaps one of them performing a second procedure in an attempt to save her life. Mitchell was held by the coroner's jury and indicted, but I've been unable to determine if there was ever a trial. (Additional source: "Woman Dies: Doctor is Held," Chicago Tribune, August 24, 1906)

Doctors and a Nurse in New York, 1910

On August 23, 1910, 20-year-old Mrs. Louise Heinrich died in the New York apartment of Dr. Charles Buffam, age 41, and his wife, Vivian Buffam. I've found so much new information on Louise's death that it's getting a new post. 

A Lay Abortionist in Queens, 1916

Lydia Hoff of Jamaica, Queens, was charged with perpetrating a fatal abortion on 26-year-old Mrs. 
Violet King on August 11, 1916. Violet died on August 23 at Jamaica Hospital in Queens from septicemia. A homemaker, she left behind three children. (Additional source: New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948)

Another Doctor in Chicago, 1927

On August 23, 1927, 27-year-old 
Shellane Franklin, a Black woman, died at the scene of the crime from an abortion performed on her that day. Dr. Gordon Jackson, identified as a white man in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database but actually Black according to his death record, was held by the coroner on October 28. On December 15, he was indicted for felony murder. 

Safe and Legal in Chicago, 1974

Dorothy Muzorewa, a nurse, had recently immigrated to the Chicago area from Zimbabwe. A journalist's notes after her death tell the following story:

Dorothy went to Women's Aid Clinic for a safe and legal abortion on June 15, 1974. The fetus didn't die, however, and Dorothy returned to the clinic on August 21 to report her symptoms. Staff told her to return the following day. Dorothy returned to Women's Aid, bleeding and in pain. Dr. David Turow examined Dorothy, diagnosed an infection, and sent her home with prescriptions for tetracycline to control the infection and ergonovine to control the bleeding.

Dorothy's husband said that he awoke at around 6:00 on the morning of August 23 to find his wife bleeding profusely. Dorothy assured him that she was just menstruating, so he left for school. When he returned home, he was alarmed by Dorothy's 
bleeding and called an ambulance. Dorothy was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival shortly after noon. Only after her death did her husband, a theology student, learn of the pregnancy and abortion. 

A witness in Dorothy's apartment described the bedroom as "wall to wall blood." He found the fetus in a waste basket.

The coroner ruled Dorothy's death from hemorrhage accidental.

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