Tuesday, September 08, 2020

September 8: Dead Teens Decades Apart

Safe and Legal in Inglewood, California

Seventeen-year-old Kathy Murphy went to Inglewood Women's Hospital in Los Angeles County for an abortion on August 24, 1973. During the days after her abortion, Kathy suffered breathing problems and became semi-conscious, so Inglewood staff transferred her by ambulance to Centinela Hospital on September 7.

Later that night, Cetinela transferred Kathy back to Inglewood, where John Dupont pronounced her dead at 1:20 on the morning of September 8. The autopsy found that Kathy had died of sepsis from the abortion; her cervix and uterus were infected, and her cervix covered with greenish-black pus.

The Inglewood facility was far better at evading responsibility than it was at providing adequate care. After Kathy's death, the next woman to die was 22-year-old Lynette Wallace, who underwent an abortion at "Inglewood Women's Hospital" on September 13, 1975, just a little over two years after Kathy Murphy's death.

Elizabeth Tsuji was the next to die. She had a saline abortion on February 2, 1978. The next to die was Cora Mae Lewis, age 23, following abortion under general anesthesia  in 1983.

Yvonne Tanner died next. The 22-year-old mother of one had an abortion performed July 10, 1984 at Inglewood. The last death I know about at Inglewood was Belinda Ann Byrd, a 37-year-old mother of three. She underwent an abortion by Steve Pine at Inglewood on January 24, 1987, when she was 19 weeks pregnant.

Belinda's mother wrote to a Los Angeles district attorney: “I am the mother of Belinda Byrd, victim of abortionists at [Inglewood]. I am also the grandmother of her three young children who are left behind and motherless. I cry every day when I think how horrible her death was. She was slashed by them and then she bled to death ... and nobody cares. I know that other young black women are now dead after abortion at that address. ... Where is [the abortionist] now? Has he been stopped? Has anything happened to him because of what he did to my Belinda? Has he served jail time for any of these cruel deaths? People tell me nothing has happened, that nothing ever happens to white abortionists who leave young black women dead. I’m hurting real bad and want some justice for Belinda and all other women who go like sheep to slaughter.”

In the wake of the series of abortion deaths at Inglewood, the authorities inspected the place. Among other things, they caught an abortionist writing post-operative examination notes without even examining the patients. When the state closed Inglewood for numerous violations, the facility simply re-opened as Inglewood Women's Clinic; as a clinic rather than a hospital they were no longer subject to the same intense scrutiny and were able to remain in business.

Who Killed Madge?

On September 8, 1923, 16-year-old Magdeline "
Madge" Bowman died at Chicago's Garfield Park Hospital from an abortion performed there that day. Midwife Kate Seuer and a 20-year-old man named Walter Page were arrested on October 5 based on Madge's dying declaration, but Sauer's case didn't go to court until March of 1925. As of yet I've been unable to determine the outcome. 

  • "Midwife and Youth Held Following Girl's Death," Chicago Tribune, September 9, 1923
  • "Aged Woman Held to Grand Jury as Slayer," Chicago Tribune, March 19, 1925

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