Saturday, August 29, 2020

August 29: Statutory Rape, Self-Induced in Pittsburgh, and Other Tragedies

Scant Information in Chicago, 1918 and 1925

On August 29, 1918, 23-year-old homemaker Mabel Johnston died at Chicago's Cook County Hospital of blood poisoning caused by an abortion involving Dr. Nathan Smedley and Dr. Emma Warren. Both were arrested and arraigned but the case evidently never went to trial.

On August 29, 1925, Katarzyna Tobiasz, age 31 or 32, died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from an abortion performed on her that day. A woman whose name is spelled once as Barbara Kolur and elsewhere as Barbara Kar was held by the coroner on August 31 for Katarzyna's death. Kolur/Kar's profession is given as nurse or midwife.  On July 5, 1927, she was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Katarzyna's death.

Self-Induced in Pittsburgh, 1926

On Wednesday, August 18, 1926, 22-year-old Myrtle Schall's friends and her fiancé, Bruce Armstrong, brought her to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. She had been feverish and in pain for the past three weeks, and now she was in shock.

Bruce, who said he'd known Myrtle for six or seven years, knew only that his fiancée was terribly ill but didn't know why. Her mother, Alice Phillips, on the other hand, was able to tell the doctor more. Myrtle, she said, had attempted a self-induced abortion when her period had been two weeks later. At first her vaginal bleeding was a welcome sign that the abortion had worked, but when it continued for three weeks, accompanied by fever and pain, her family and friends had become concerned.

Myrtle had been perfectly well prior to inducing the abortion. Now she was vomiting and the doctors found her to be weak and anemic, with a rapid pulse and respiration and an alarming blood pressure of 136/100. In spite of all of the doctors' best efforts, Myrtle died from peritonitis at 8:15 p.m. on Sunday, August 29.

Myrtle's death certificate indicates that she was married to John Schall at the time of her death. Since Bruce was listened as the source of the information, and Myrtle was buried under her maiden name, it's likely that she and her husband were estranged and that she was awaiting a divorce so that she and Bruce could marry.

Abused and Abandoned in Chicago, 1927

In August of 1927, fifteen-year-old Florence Kruse, a junior at Lindblom High School, confessed to her parents that she was pregnant. Corwyn Lynch, an insurance adjuster in his early 20s, promised to marry Florence, then disappeared on August 15, telling his landlady that he was going to California. The deserted teen was disconsolate and began talking about suicide. That's when her parents, Louis and Amanda, reached out to Dr. James Aldrich, age 71.

On August 19, Mr. and Mrs. Kruse took Florence Aldrich's office at 5941 Normal Boulevard. After the abortion, Florence remained at Aldrich's office, attended by his wife. Her condition deteriorated over the ensuing week, and she was taken to Augustana Hospital. The doctors who treated her there reported the case to the coroner's office. A deputy spoke to Mr. Kruse, who admitted what they'd done.

Florence died on August 29. Deputy Coroner Joseph Kveton conducted an inquest at the Reilly undertaking establishment. After the funeral he had the girl's parents, Florence's parents, charged as accessories before and after the fact. 

Mrs. Kruse wasn't home when police went to arrest her but was reportedly ill at another location. Mr. Kruse, evidently unable to raise the $5,000 bond, sat in a jail cell and threatened to kill Lynch.

The three parties in Chicago were released after the coroner's jury was unable to confirm that Aldrich had performed the abortion. The coroner recommended that Lynch be charged with murder.

I've been unable to learn anything more about the case.

Filthy and Substandard in Chicago, 1987

Diane Watson was 27 years old, a mother of two, when she went to Hedd Surgi-Center in Chicago for a safe and legal abortion on August 29, 1987. Although Diane was over 12 weeks pregnant, Rudolph Moragne proceeded with the abortion, in violation of state regulations prohibiting outpatient abortions after 12 weeks. He ended up hitting a vein when injecting anesthetics. Diane had seizures and went into cardiac arrest. Moragne and the other physicians present -- Henry Pimentel, Ester Pimentel, and Calvin Williams -- failed to perform CPR. 

Diane's autopsy report attributed her death to "seizures due to anesthesia during an abortion," and made note of the recent pregnancy. Diane's death certificate, however, not only makes no mention of the abortion, but has the "no" box checked for whether or not the decedent had been pregnant during the previous three months.

Diane's family filed suit. A doctor reviewing the case said that Moragne and Hedd staff "deviated from the accepted standards of care [and] failed to appropriately and timely diagnose and treat intraoperative complications which resulted in her death." The clinic, Diane's family asserted, lacked the proper equipment to handle emergencies and nobody had been monitoring Diane's vital signs during the procedure.

The state Health Department had already been investigating Hedd for numerous deficiencies. Pimentel ended up paying out $1.8 million (over $6 million in 2020 dollars) in six malpractice suits, including a $500,000 (c. $1.16m)settlement to Diane's family.

Another abortion patient, Magnolia Reed Thomas, bled to death when Moragne failed to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy when she came to him at Hedd for a safe, legal abortion. Pimentel's license was suspended in 1990 for fraudulent insurance billing. He had already been banned from the state's Medicaid program for "grossly inferior care."  The clinic's license was finally revoked in 1991, and Pimentel was ordered to sell it due to problems with sanitation and infection control -- including mold on the breathing tubes and mouse droppings in the procedure rooms -- and expired medications.

Watch the YouTube video.


Myrtle Schall's death certificate

Florence Kruse documents:

Diane Watson documents:

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