Tuesday, September 01, 2020

September 1: Notoriously Deadly Abortionist Taken Out of Circulation. Temporarily.

Dr. Lucy Hagenow (who also used the names Louise and Louisa) cracked my conception of what criminal abortion was like: She was permitted to ply her trade with only intermittent legal issues, despite her appalling record of quackery. Marie Hecht is one of her many victims.

Marie, employed as a domestic on Dearborn Avenue in Chicago, was admitted to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, suffering from abortion complications, on August 28, 1899. By August 31, doctors concluded that they could not save her, so they notified the police. Officer Frank Snyder brought Hagenow, who was at that time going under the name of Louise Hagenow, to Marie's room along with two detectives. They also brought a translator, since Marie spoke only German. The police took notes and prepared a statement for Marie to sign.

Snyder said that Hagenow had asked Marie, "Is it as bad as this, my poor child?" to which Marie answered, "Yes, see what you have done!" Hagenow tried to get Marie to say that she'd been bleeding when she'd come to Hagenow for treatment, and Marie insisted that she had not been.

Marie's final statement read:

I am twenty three years old and will be twenty four years on the tenth day of November. I was born in Villason county, Luzerne, Switzerland where my parents still reside. I left Germany four years ago.

In January of this year I became acquainted with John Schockweiler, a young man about twenty years old who is employed in a freight house on the south side and resides at 140 Orleans street. I had sexual intercourse with him for about five or six times and in the month of May. I noticed I was pregnant and on Thursday at 12:30 PM August 24th 1899 I went of my own free will to visit Dr. Louise Hagenow at 330 Division street. She laid me on a lounge and examined me and after the examination she said she would relieve me of the child for $75 (over $2,300 in 2020) and that she would take it from me with instruments.

"No," I said. "No, I cannot afford to pay you $75 for the work. I'll give you $70 (about $156 less in 2020)." Then she agreed I then gave her $70. She first laid me on a lounge and began to use an instrument on me. During that time I suffered considerable pain I remained on the lounge for about twenty minutes. Then the doctor made me get up and walk about the room. I was so weak I could not walk very long. Then I went and laid down on the bed.

The doctor then came in and began to use instruments again. I felt as though I was being cut to pieces and at about 5:30 PM she took the child away from me. I suffered great pain and the following day, Friday, August 25th, I left and took a car for 941 North Clark street -- a friend of mine named Spitzer -- where I remained until Monday morning at ten o'clock, August 28th, when I left and was brought to the St Elizabeth Hospital in a carriage.

If I die I desire that all costs and expenses attending my funeral expenses shall be paid out of my savings which amount to $300 and which is in the Germania Safe Deposit Vaults corner of Clark and Germania place. Mr. Gomme, my employer, still owes me $76 for services rendered after all the aforesaid expenses are paid I desire that the balance of my money be paid to my parents, John and Anne Hecht of Villason county Luzerne Switzerland. I now see the woman standing at my bedside who performed the abortion.

In the subsequent investigation, the exact dates don't jibe with Marie's dying declaration but what others had to say support the series of events.

Augusta Spitzer, the friend to whom Marie had referred in her dying declaration, said that Marie had come to visit her at her place of employment on the morning of Thursday, August 24 and had remained there about an hour. Marie had been in both good health and good spirits. The next time Augusta saw Marie was at around 8:00 p.m. on the following day. Marie had come to Augusta's home sick and needing help in undressing and going to bed. Augusta noticed that Marie's clothing was bloody.

Though Marie had no medical care given, a woman named Emma Baldesch remained with her during the day on Monday, August 28 and was relieved by a woman identified as Mrs. Amich who remained with Marie overnight.

On Tuesday, Augusta said, Marie was taken to the hospital. Augusta visited her alone on Wednesday and on Thursday and Friday in the company of Lena Haller and Emma Baldesch. When the women arrived on Friday, according to Augusta, Sister Philomena, who had been present when Marie gave her dying declaration, related that Marie had said to Hagenow, "What did you do to me I have got to die."

Hagenow responded, "Yes, what did you do to me? See in what trouble you bring me; you promised me not to say anything to anybody."

Marie replied, "Yes, I did, but I couldn't deny it any longer."

Marie died on September 1.

Dr. Kramps testified that Marie's vulva, vagina, and uterus were in a mutilated condition, along with bruises and lacerations indicative of the use of "some odd instrument." One of the items entered into evidence -- paradoxically by the defense -- was a note to Hagenow from midwife Paulina Bechtal, a known abortionist. The note said that Marie had come to Bechtal wanting an abortion but Bechtal considered the case too difficult and was referring her. Hagenow's defense tried to argue that the note indicated that Bechtal had perpetrated the fatal abortion. It didn't work. Hagenow was convicted of manslaughter.

Dr. Hagenow was sentenced to Joliet prison in 1900 for Marie's death. She confessed in a later trial that she had wrapped Marie's baby in newspapers and buried it in a vacant lot on Milwaukee Avenue. I have been unable to determine if the baby's body was ever retrieved or if that vacant lot was his or her final resting place.

Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dorries, Abbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths:

  • 1891: Minnie Deering
  • 1892: Sophia Kuhn and Emily Anderson
  • 1896: Hannah Carlson
  • 1905: Mary Putnam
  • 1906: Lola Madison
  • 1907: Annie Horvatich
  • 1925: Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, and Elizabeth Welter
  • 1926: Mary Moorehead
Hagenow was typical of criminal abortionists in that she was a physician.

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