Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 31: Would Margaret Have Died Anyway?

On January 25, 1915, Dr. E. M. Ullrich of Brooklyn, was called in to attend to 20-year-old Margaret Bereis at her home on Warhope St. in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. He found her with a high fever. The next day he consulted with Dr. Jensen concerning Margaret's high fever. They concurred that she was suffering from septicemia. Ullrich continued to care for her until her death on January 31, filling out her death certificate attributing her death "Acute Septicemia And Suppurative Peritonitis Caused By Infection Following An Abortion."

We can speculate about whether Margaret would have found a more skilled practitioner had abortion been legal, but in any event, infection is a known abortion complication. It is also a complication that was extremely difficult to treat in 1915, with the development of penicillin more than a decade in the future and widespread use of antibiotics still two world wars away.

After legalization, according to theory, unskilled or careless abortion practitioners would be replaced by reputable doctors, and women would no longer needlessly die. However, even before the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision struck down all US abortion laws in 1973, women were already starting to die needlessly from the purportedly safe legal abortions.


January 31: A Teen Killed With an Obsolete Method

Fifteen-year-old Gwendolyn Drummer was a student at Harry Ellis High in Richmond, California, when she was admitted to Doctor's Hospital of Pinole for a safe and legal abortion, to be performed January 28, 1972. Her doctor chose the saline abortion methodThese abortions are performed by replacing amniotic fluid with a strong salt solution. 

The saline abortion method was being abandoned in countries where abortion was legal.  Two Japanese doctors, Takahsi Wagatsuma and Yukio Manabe, warned western physicians about the high risk of serious injuries and maternal deaths. A British study published in 1966 found that the saline could enter the mother's bloodstream and cause brain damage. Swedish researchers noticed an unacceptably high rate of complications and deaths. Sweden and the Soviet Union followed Japan in abandoning saline abortion as too dangerous by the late 1960s.

But as laws loosened up in the US, American doctors adopted the saline abortion method. So in 1972, with over a decade of warning not to do so, Gwendolyn's doctor injected saline into her uterus. It got into her blood stream, just as British, Japanese, Soviet, and Swedish doctors had repeatedly warned it could do. Gwendolyn suffered organ damage. She subsequently developed pneumonia, and died on January 31.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

January 30: Stella and Jeanette, Examples of Common Abortions

Research by both Planned Parenthood and scholar Nancy Howell Lee into pre-legalization abortion practice found that most abortion-minded women availed themselves of the services of physicians. The second most common kind of illegal abortionist, Lee found in her probing, was a non-physician with medical training such as a nurse, midwife, or dentist. Today's anniversaries provide common examples.

A Franklin, IL, Physician

In late January of 1904, Estella "Stella" Murgatroyd lay ailing at the home of her parents just outside Jacksonville, Illinois. Her father, F. E. Murgatroyd, said that Stella had left home on the afternoon of Thursday, January 21, and had returned home at around 5 p.m. She began to develop a fever the next day at around noon. After that she began to get chills and seemed seriously ill. Mr. M had asked several times if he could summon a doctor for her, but she refused. Finally he'd summoned Dr. J. A. Day without Stella's consent. He consulted with Dr. Frank P. Norburg and Dr. F. J. Pitner. The two men were suspicious so they questioned Stella pointedly. She made a declaration just before her death on January 30, witnessed by Frank P. Norburg and Dr. Day:

"I, Miss Estella Murgatroyd, a single (unmarried) lady, 27 years of age, do hereby, and in the presence of witnesses, solemnly declare that I was [pregnant by John Pate] and on Jan. 21, 1904, about 2:30 o/clock p.m., Dr. W. C. Manley operated upon me at his office in Jacksonville. I furthermore declare that upon the morning of Jan. 24, 1904, Dr. J. A. Day was called to attend me and he afterwards on the same day called and consulted with Dr. L. P. Norbury over my condition. I declare furthermore that Dr. L. P. Norbury and J. A. Day had no association whatever in the operation." 

The three doctors who cared for Stella signed a death certificate giving her cause of death as "septic endocarditis and peritonitis." The post-mortem examination verified the cause of death as abortion complications.

During the inquest, Dr. Day testified that he had concluded that Stella was moribund from the first time he was called in to attend to her. She'd told him about the abortion and said that beforehand she'd been assured that there would be no danger to her from the procedure.

An inquest was held February 1 through 5, 1904. Dr. Day testified that John Pate had named Dr. William C. Manley as Stella's abortionist in a conversation they'd had. Pate agreed to pay Day's $25 fee for providing care to Stella. Day asked Pate if he'd seen Dr. Manley boil the instruments before using them and Pate had answered in the negative. Pate said that the abortion was performed at the office Dr. Manley shared with Dr. Corrill while Corrill was in an adjacent room. Pate told Dr. Day that Stella had threatened to kill herself unless she was able to arrange an abortion. When Dr. Day told Pate that he'd have to give a true cause of death on the death certificate, he said, Pate tried to convince him not to do so on the grounds that his wife and children would throw him off if they found out the truth.

Dr. Norbury testified that after Stella had given her dying declaration, she'd asked him not to show it to her mother, since Pate was Stella's brother-in-law.

Other witnesses at the inquest contributed little useful information. They Dr. Corrill's wife, Lillian; Edward Brennan, who owned the nearby Pacific Hotel; and Stella's sister Annie, who was Pate's wife. Pate himself was still at large and his wife said that he'd disappeared without telling her where he was going. He had withdrawn $200 from the bank and was believed to have boarded a south-bound train. The sheriff was confident that he'd be easily found because he had a severely injured eye and a patch of white in his otherwise dark brown hair.

Dr. Manley was arrested. A warrant was issued for Pate as an accessory. 

I've been unable to determine the outcome of the case, but it seems unlikely that either man was convicted because the 1910 federal census records show each man still living with his wife and children in Jacksonville. Evidently Pate's wife and children didn't throw him off after all.

A Chicago Midwife

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, abortion practice thrived in Chicago, with midwives and doctors placing thinly-veiled ads for abortions in newspapers. On January 30, 1912, 21-year-old Jeanette Milczarek, a homemaker and Russian immigrant, died in Chicago from an abortion believed to have been perpetrated by nurse/midwife Anna Chezanowaki, possibly that same day. Chezanowaki was indicted by a Grand Jury on February 15, but the case never went to trial.


Stella Murgatroyd sources:


Friday, January 29, 2021

January 29: Citizen Calls Lead to Exhumation and Discovery

Rose Lipner, age 32, a homemaker and mother of 2, died at Riverdale Hospital on January 29, 1936. Rose was buried the next day at Mount Judah Cemetery in Cypress Hills, New York. 

After the funeral, several people, including an anonymous caller, notified police and the District Attorney's office that the death was suspicious, and Rose was exhumed for an autopsy. The medical examiner determined that Rose had died from caused by an abortion. 

Dr. Maxwell C. Katz, who owned and lived at Riverdale (maternity) Hospital, which he operated, signed a death certificate indicating that Rose had been operated on there for a tumor. Katz was arraigned for second-degree manslaughter. 

During his trial, his defense brought forth a large number of character witnesses testifying to his 25 years as a physician and his good reputation. Katz did admit to performing an abortion on Rose, but said that it was in an attempt to save her life. The defense was successful, and he was acquitted.

Watch Dr. Katz's Dilemma on YouTube.




January 29: Olive Ash

Olive Ash worked for a farmer, Mr. Beckwith, in Vermont, in the summer and fall of 1857. She was about 20 years old, and she lived with the family during her employment. In the autumn of that year, Olive returned to her family home in Sutton.

On December 28, 1857, Olive and her twin sister, Olivia, left their home and went by rail to the home of their cousin, Levi M. Aldrich, in Bradford, ostensibly to visit his widowed mother. During the visit, Olive seemed to her family to be in normal health.

The sisters remained at Aldrich's home about two weeks, then said that they were going to meet some friends at the Fairlee depot for an excursion into New York or Massachusetts. Instead, when they arrived at Fairlee depot they took a wagon to the home and office of Dr. William Howard, about six miles north of the depot and three miles south of Bradford.

On Friday, January 29, 1858, Olive's mother, Mahitable, got a telegram telling her to come to Howard's home. She quickly complied, and was there when her daughter died at about 6 in the evening. Dr. Howard got a coffin for Olive, and the twins' mother took the body by train to Sutton.

On February 3, Olive's body was exhumed for an autopsy, which was performed by Dr. Frost and witnessed by Dr. Bliss, Dr. Carpenter, and others unnamed. Frost found evidence of recent pregnancy as well as signs of instrumentation and damage to the cervix. Dr. Frost believed that Olive had hemorrhaged due to the damage to her cervix. He removed and preserved her uterus. Another physician examined the uterus and concluded that the placenta had been retained for some time after the abortion, and that this retained placenta would also cause hemorrhage.

In the trial of Dr. Howard, Olivia testified that she knew her sister was pregnant and had accompanied her on the journey knowing that Olive was planning to get an abortion. Olivia said that Daniel Beckwith, the grown son of the farmer Olive had worked for, met them at their cousin's house, and he gave them the information on where to go and who to see for the abortion.

From Olivia's testimony, the sisters arrived at Dr. Howard's house and informed him that Olive was about six months pregnant. He spoke to the sisters and indicated that he wanted to consult with Daniel Beckwith before deciding if he was going to proceed with an abortion. The sisters remained at Dr. Howard's house for a few days until Olive got a letter from Beckwith, and she read part of it to Dr. Howard. He then agreed to perform the abortion for a sum of $100.

Dr. Howard told the sisters that the process would take three or four weeks. He gave Olive a concoction to drink two or three times. On the Friday the week after the sisters' arrival, Dr. Howard performed some sort of procedure on Olive as she lay on the bed in the room the twins shared. Olivia was permitted to remain with her sister during this procedure. She said that Dr. Howard used two or three of the three or four instruments he had at hand. Olive was in pain during the procedure, which took two or more hours, and resulted in a gush of fluid.

The following day, Dr. Howard performed another, similar, procedure on Olive, who clutched her sister's hand and reported great pain. Olive bled profusely. After this second operation, Olive kept to her bed.

That night, Dr. Howard performed yet another procedure, very painful for Olive to endure. This time he used instruments then reached in with his hand and pulled out a fetus, which Olivia reported as being about two-thirds the size of a newborn. Dr. Howard removed the fetus from the room, and Olivia never saw it again.

Olive bled after this, but not profusely. Afterward her behavior struck Olivia as violent and irrational. A girl named Margaret Kelley, who lived at Dr. Howard's house, also testified that Olivia had laundered her sister's bloody clothing while at the doctor's house. Bloody clothing were introduced into evidence, including two chemises and a small quilt or pad. The witness, Mrs. Wilson, who produced the evidence indicated that she'd found these things hidden in the rafters of the house when she was cleaning in the fall of 1858.

Mrs. Wilson also said that about two weeks after Dr. Howard's arrest, she saw one of Dr. Howard's dogs come out from underneath the office privy with something in its mouth. She made the dog drop what it was carrying and discovered it to be a fetus of about four or five months, in a state of decomposition. While she was looking at the fetus, another of the doctor's dogs snatched the fetus up and ran off with it. The dogs, she testified, had been digging at the privy for some time before retrieving the fetus. Mrs. Wilson's description of the fetus she'd seen the dogs with was similar in size to the fetus Olivia had described taken from her sister. Olivia had also testified to having seen a number of fetuses of various sizes preserved in containers in Dr. Howard's premises.

The defense presented a witness named Susan Squires, who was staying at Dr. Howards from January 23 until after Olive's death. She said that the Thursday before Olive's death, she had spoken with Olive while Olivia was eating lunch. Susan said that Olive told her that she didn't expect to live, that she'd taken poisons before coming to Dr. Howard, that Dr. Howard was not to blame in her death but had done everything in his power to help her. Susan said that Olive seemed rational at the time, but that by Friday morning Olive seemed to have lost her reason.

On cross examination, Susan indicated that she had stayed at Dr. Howard's off and on for two years, to do sewing and to receive medications. She indicated that on Thursday afternoon, at about 4:00 Friday morning Olive managed to kick the footboard off the bed, prompting Olivia to summon Susan and a Mrs. Green into the room. Olive complained of being tired and continued to thrash and kick for a short time before settling down.

Mrs. Green was brought as a witness. She said that she had gone to Dr. Howard's on Tuesday afternoon and remained there a week visiting the doctor's wife. She first saw Olive on Wednesday morning, when Olivia had summoned her to help attend to Olive, who was trembling, delirious, and bleeding from the nose. Mrs. Green also went to Olive during the episode when she'd kicked the footboard off the bed. She'd helped the others restrain Olive. Mrs. Green testified that Olive never revived enough to speak after that.

Dr. Howard's witnessed attempted to show that Howard was treating Olive for a miscarriage. Dr. Howard was nevertheless convicted.

January 29: The Scantest Possible Information

On January 29, 1883, a Chicago widow named Adeline Savroch died in a carriage on the way home from having a criminal abortion performed by midwife Bertha Twachaus, who was held without bail for murder in Adeline's death. A saloon keeper named Julius Grosse, and his housekeeper, Celia Arlep, were held as accessories.



Thursday, January 28, 2021

January 28: Self Induced in Pittsburgh

My primary information about abortion deaths for this time and place are through coroner records. Interestingly, the Pittsburgh area's abortion culture seemed to lean toward self-induced abortions despite the presence of physician-abortionists.

On January 28, 1918, 27-year-old Annabella Lewis, a homemaker, died in at West Penn Hospital in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The autopsy concluded that she had performed a self-induced abortion using slippery elm bark. She had told her husband, Albert, about the abortion, but had denied even being ill to anybody else until her admission to the hospital.

Watch Slippery Elm in Pittsburgh on YouTube.

January 28: Another Black Victim of Abortion

Evangeline McKenna, a Louisiana native, was 38 years old when she checked into Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles for an abortion and tubal ligation. Two days after the procedure, she had a seizure. She stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors told the family that Evangeline was brain dead, but they held out hope and asked that she be put on life support. On January 28, 1974, after twelve days on life support, Evangeline was pronounced dead. She left behind five children.

Evangeline's death, in addition to being a tragedy for her family and loved ones, also highlights the disproportionate damage that legal abortion causes among Blacks in the United States. Though black women are only 13% of the female population in the US, and though they are more likely than white women to oppose abortion, they account for a full 35% of legal abortions reported. Black women, like Evangeline, also account for fully 50% of reported legal abortion deaths.

Watch Black Lives Matter? on YouTube.

January 28: The Lay Abortionist

Twenty-nine-year-old waitress Kerneda Bennett, though living with her husband in Harrisonburg, Virginia, got pregnant as a result of an extramarital affair in late 1946. She asked her friend, Irene Davis, to help her arrange an abortion. Irene called her friend, Iva Rodeffer Davis Coffman, to make arrangements. At around the end of the first week of January, 1947, Kerneda and Irene went to Coffman's home at Mt. Crawford, near Harrisonburg .  

Coffman took Kerneda into a bedroom. "When they came out," according to legal records, "Mrs. Coffman told Mrs. Bennett to come back if nothing had happened in fourteen days, and if anything was said about why they were there to say they came to have a dress made."

About two weeks later, on January 27, Kerneda "had not had the result expected." She asked Irene to contact Coffman again. The two of them took a taxi back to Coffman's home about 7:30 on the evening of January 28. While the taxi was waiting, Coffman took Kerneda back into the bedroom. About fifteen or twenty minutes later Irene thought she heard something fall. A few minutes later, Coffman told her that Kerneda had fainted and asked her to come back to the bedroom. Irene found Kerneda lying, groaning, face-down on the floor beside the bed, dressed except for her shoes and coat. 

Coffman seemed very nervous and said that they needed to get Kerneda to a hospital. Irene summoned the taxi driver, who carried Kerneda out to the cab. Kerneda, who had been nearly lifeless when loaded into the taxi, was dead on arrival at the hospital.

That night Coffman's home was searched, but nothing of evidential value was found. Coffman told the sheriff that Kerneda had asked to use the bathroom, and was shown to the bedroom, and asked for a glass of water. Coffman said she'd brought Kerneda the water, which she had used to wash down two pills from her purse, joking that they were poison. A few minutes later, Coffman said, Kerneda fell onto the floor.

The Harrisonburg/Rockingham County coroner, Dr. Byers, performed the autopsy assisted by Dr. Hill. They found no evidence of external injuries except for a small genital scratch. A piece of tissue from the placenta was in the cervix, a small blood clot was in the vagina, and the uterus was in place, appearing at first to be a normal pregnant uterus with no signs of injury. Upon removing the uterus, the doctors noted a sensation as if the organ contained air. They opened the uterus and found an intact pregnancy with a fetus of about three to four months of gestation. Byers concluded that an abortion had been attempted, which had caused a fatal air embolism. After the embolism killed Kerneda, the baby died as well. He based the embolism diagnosis on the crepitation (feeling as if air was present) of the uterus. Coffman was convicted of performing the fatal abortion and incarcerated to serve a five year sentence. 

Watch The Dressmaker Abortionist? on YouTube.

Sources:

January 28: A Doctor, a Midwife, and Another Doctor

Chicago at this time was a hospitable environment for illegal abortionists, and women readily availed themselves of the many physicians and midwives who took up the trade. Two examples from this date, one year apart, were found in online records.

On January 28, 1911, 18-year-old homemaker Lillie Hirst died in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion that had been perpetrated less than a week prior. Dr. Aldrich and Mrs. Treshelling were held by the Coroner's Jury and indicted, but the case never went to trial.

On January 28, 1912, 28-year-old homemaker Mary Balogh, an immigrant from Hungary, died at the practice of midwife Anna Klickner from an abortion perpetrated the previous day. Klickner was arrested at the scene but escaped. She was captured on November 26 and indicted on December 15. The case never went to trial for reasons I have been unable to determine.

Lavern Perez, age 22, died at her home in Chicago on January 28, 1943. Dr. Henry Gross, age 58, was found guilty of manslaughter by abortion. The prosecution presented Gross as having a dual personality. Gross had a respectable medical practice. However, after a Dr. Ira Willits died, Gross set up shop in Willits's old office as an abortionist under Willit's name. It was at this office, Lavern's mother-in-law, Olga Perez, testified, that Lavern's fatal abortion was perpetrated. Mrs. Perez said that Lavern had paid an office attendant $60 for the abortion. The day after Lavern died, Mrs. Perez said, Dr. Gross appeared at her home with a gun, which he used to threaten both her and her son. They wrestled the gun away from him, whereupon he begged for the weapon back so he could kill himself. Gross had insisted that he'd only been treating Lavern for a cold. However, he was also investigated for the February 20, 1943 abortion death of Dorothy Webber, age 20.

Watch Typical Abortionists on YouTube.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

January 27: Fifth Death Finally Moves Officials to Act

News clipping headshot of a smiling young Black woman
Belinda Byrd
Belinda Ann Byrd was a tiny woman, weighing only 95 pounds even when she was 19 weeks into her pregnancy. The mother of three children, all of whom had been delivered by C-section, was afraid to go ahead and have her baby because a doctor had told her that another birth could prove fatal. 

On January 23, 1987, Belinda reported to Inglewood Women's Hospital in Los Angeles, California for medications prior to an abortion scheduled the following day. She reported to Inglewood on the 24th for what she expected to be a live-preserving safe and legal abortion performed by Dr. Stephen Pine. 

Belinda was the 69th of 74 women that Pine rushed through Inglewood's single procedure room. Fully 24 of those abortions were performed in the final two hours of the day at the 28-bed hospital.

Pine finished Belinda's abortion in roughly nine minutes, ending at about 4:00 p.m. She was only kept in the recovery room for about seven minutes before she was taken to the hospital's west wing. Belinda complained that she was weak and her legs were numb at about 5:00 pm. She collapsed in the bathroom a short time later and had to be helped back to her bed.

At some point staff took Belinda's vital signs and noted bloody discharge from her vagina.

At around 6:00 p.m. Pine left the hospital.

At around 7:00 p.m. Belinda again reported that she felt weak and her legs were numb. About ten minutes later a nurse tried to take Belinda's vital signs but could find no pulse. 

Staff at Inglewood attempted resuscitation themselves for two hours before finally calling an ambulance to transfer Belinda to Centinela Medical Center, a hospital with appropriate emergency services. As a licensed general acute care hospital, Inglewood should have been equipped to treat Belinda's complications.

Belinda arrived at Centinela apparently brain-dead atop bloody sheets. She remained comatose until she was taken off life support on January 27. Her autopsy report noted that she had died due to a punctured uterus. She also had a blood clot in her lung.

Belinda's three children were about 16, 13, and 11 years old when they were left motherless.

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.

A defense attorney claimed that Belinda hadn't bled to death but had instead died due to a rare condition causing a blood clot to form in her lungs several hours after surgery. "Had three doctors been standing there at the time, the chances of that woman surviving were practically nil. This case doesn't belong in a courtroom. It belongs in a textbook."  

Inglewood officials pooh-poohed the idea that Pine was rushing through abortions too quickly to perform them safely, asserting that it wasn't unusual for one of their doctors to do 100 abortions in a single day. They asserted that this rapid-fire assembly-line approach was safe even though they specialized in more difficult and time-consuming second trimester abortions. 

Pine settled out-of-court with Belinda's mother, longtime boyfriend, two siblings, and three children for $250,000 prior to a civil jury deciding that although Pine, Barke, and Inglewood had all been negligent in the care they provided to Belinda, they were could not that the negligence had actually caused her death. Thus the case for the remaining defendants ended in a mistrial. 

Kathy Murphy (1973), Lynette Wallace (1975), Elizabeth Tsuji (1978) and Cora Lewis (1983) had already died at Inglewood. It took Belinda's death to get the authorities around to inspecting the place the place. Among other things, they caught an abortionist writing post-operative examination notes without even examining the patients. This confirmed what a nurse's aide told investigators after Belinda's death:  that Pine rarely examined patients after their abortions and signed discharge forms before the patients had even left the recovery room. This aide later quit without giving notice, explaining "It was just a slaughterhouse, and I couldn't take it any more." 

Health official Ralph Lopez told the Los Angeles Times that Inglewood had a long history of "battlefield conditions" and a case load of about 1,000 abortions a month in its single operating room. Inglewood processed 11,330 abortion patients in 1986 alone. Patients were rushed through surgery with the table and floors stained with the blood of previous patients. Doctors didn't wash their hands or their equipment between patients. Patients "were encouraged to leave the facility before they felt comfortable doing so," and patients were discharged without being assessed by a physician.

The inspection led to a 29-page report citing 33 violations.

Inglewood was threatened with suspension of Medicare and Medi-Cal funding for problems, including "dumping" an injured abortion patient -- just transferring her to County-USC Medical Center in unstable condition and without alerting the hospital to expect her. 

The state revoked Inglewood's hospital license. Less than two weeks later it reopened as West Coast Women's Medical Group, operating under the name Inglewood Women's Clinic, an outpatient abortion facility. It was later purchased by Edward "Fast Eddie" Allred to add to his Family Planning Associates Medical Group chain of abortion facilities.

Inglewood Women's Hospital was owned by Inglewood General Hospital Corp. Inc., which was headed by abortionist Morton Barke.

Watch "I Cry Every Day" on YouTube.

Sources:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

January 26: Multiple Deaths

On January 26, 1920, 24-year-old Lydia Swanson, daughter of Swedish immigrants, died at Chicago's Post Graduate Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Dr.Rosa Gollnick. Lydia had developed septic inflammation of both lungs. Gollnick was arrested on January 27 and went to trial, but was acquitted on June 18.

Ingar Weber, age 28, died January 26, 1990, in a Louisiana hospital. She had been treated for acute kidney failure after a safe and legal abortion performed at Delta Women's Clinic in Baton Rouge on January 20, 1990. Ingar's family sued the clinic and its doctors, Richardson P. Glidden and Thomas Booker. They faulted the doctors with failing to diagnose Ingar's kidney problems, or her deteriorating physical condition, before, during, or after the abortion. Delta had also been sued following the death of another abortion patient. This woman was most likely 27-year-old Sheila Hebert, who died after an abortion on June 6, 1984.

On January 22, 2001, 19-year-old Melissa Heim went to Access Health Center in Downers Grove, Illinois. She was given "twilight anesthesia" with a drug cocktail including Versed, Fentanyl, and Brevital for a safe, legal abortion, which started at about 11:45 a.m. and was finished at about noon. After the abortion, she was moved to the recovery area, where she went into cardio-respiratory arrest about half an hour later. An ambulance was summoned, and Melissa was resuscitated by the paramedics, but due to the brain injury she had suffered, she died on January 26. Her survivors filed suit against Access, doctors Victor Espinosa and Alfonso Del Granado, and nurse Pat Hurt, holding that they had failed to monitor her properly in recovery and failed to resuscitate her quickly enough to save her life.

Discuss Significant Factors with us on YouTube.

Monday, January 25, 2021

January 25: Life Drained Away

Snapshot of a brightly smiling young white woman with short, dark-blond hair. She is evidently at some kind of party.
Alexandra Nunez
Alexandra Nunez was a 37-year-old single mom from New Jersey. On January 25, 2010, 37-year-old Alexandra told her family that she was going to a doctor's office in Newark for a procedure to remove a cyst. Instead she went to A1 Medicine in Jackson Heights, Queens for an abortion. A1 was an ambulatory surgical facility doing abortions and plastic surgery. 

Alexandra was 16 or 17 weeks pregnant. The abortion was performed at 3:30 p.m. By the end of the day, Alexandra was at Elmhurst Hospital Center, dead from hemorrhage.

Her 19-year-old daughter, Daisy Davila, told the New York Daily News, "I'm upset because I never got a chance to say goodbye. She didn't want anyone to go with her. I made dinner and lunch, hoping she would come back."

Eventually the medical board concluded that the doctor responsible for Alexandra's death was Robert F. Hosty. He had no hospital affiliation and hadn't taken any continuing medical education training since 2004. He had also appallingly screwed up the care of a gynecological patient only 15 months earlier, resulting in that woman's death. Not only had Hosty failed to perform a proper examination, he performed outpatient surgery on a woman who was on blood thinners and then did absolutely nothing while she bled to death. 

Because of Alexandra's obstetric history, which included two C-sections, and the location of the placenta, Hosty should have known that it was unsafe to proceed with an abortion in an outpatient setting. Catastrophic complications are to be predicted, and the doctor must be certain that there is an adequate supply of blood for a possible transfusion, and a fully equipped operating room nearby in case an emergency hysterectomy is needed.

As a prudent physician would have suspected, the placenta had implanted deeply into the area of Alexandra's uterus that had been scarred by the prior surgery.

After the abortion, Alexandra began to bleed uncontrollably. Rather than seek the cause of the bleeding, Hosty administered medications, then stood by and did nothing while a nurse anesthetist intubated Alexandra and began providing oxygen. Nobody summoned an ambulance until over 45 minutes after blood began pouring out of Alexandra's body.

Paramedics arrived to find Alexandra still on the procedure table in stirrups, cold and gray and for all appearances already dead. Blood was still draining from her body into a pool on the floor. The only monitoring instrument in place was a pulse oximeter. The nurse anesthetist was administering oxygen, and because she was the only one who seemed to know what was going on, the emergency responders assumed that she was the physician. Nobody else was assisting the patient in any way.


The paramedics began a futile attempt to resuscitate Alexandra, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital. Hosty had severed a uterine artery.

A nurse at the clinic who was interviewed by the Daily News commented, "The patient was transferred to the hospital. She didn't die at the clinic. Nothing happened here."

After these two deaths and catastrophic injuries suffered by another gynecological patient, the medical board finally got around to yanking Hosty's license. They waited until February 4, 2012 to do it.

Watch Letting Her Life Drain Away on YouTube.

January 25: A Judge's Misjudgement Unleashes Death

On January 23, 1891, saloon keeper Joseph Hoffman summoned Dr. Dietrich to Shaeffer's Hotel in Chicago to tend to an ailing woman, 23-year-old Minnie DeeringDietrich prescribed an oral medication and an alcohol and carbolic acid solution to be externally applied. The following day, Hoffman summoned Dr. Detrich and reported that he'd mixed up the medications and given Minnie the carbolic acid orally by mistake. Detrich and another doctor pumped Minnie's stomach and administered counter measures but to no avail. She died on January 25.

News clipping headshot of a grim-looking white woman, just past middle age, wearing wire rim glasses and a dark-colored sailor-style hat and collar
Lucy Hagenow
Even though this meant implicating himself in a crime, Hoffman told the doctors that he and Minnie had secretly married and had secretly come to the city to procure the services of an abortion doctor he referred to as "Mrs. Hageman." The coroner's jury concluded that ultimately Minnie had died because of the abortion since it had started the chain of events that led to her death. However, they did not conclusively determine that Hagenow herself had perpetrated it. They ordered her held to a grand jury pending further investigation and Hagenow was arrested.

Hagenow, a prolific abortionist who had fled prosecution after the deaths of abortion patients in San Francisco, evidently had found a welcoming new home in Chicago. Her attorney, John C. King, requested a writ to get Hagenow released. Judge Tuthill "readily granted it, saying that the verdict was an admission and an exhibition of ignorance, and that Mrs. Hagenow should not have spent an hour in jail."

Tuthill thus released Hagenow to ply her trade in Chicago. She was subsequently implicated in more than a dozen subsequent abortion deaths: Sophia Kuhn, Emily Anderson, Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson,  Elizabeth Welter, and Mary Moorehead.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

January 23: The Soldier's Sweetheart and the Disgraced Doctor

Portrait of a smiling young white woman with fine features and dark, shoulder-length hair
Geraldine Schuyler
Geraldine Schuyler, age 20, was a secretary at Matthewson Electric Company in Chicago when she learned that she was pregnant in January of 1944. The father was Geraldine's fiancé, a soldier in the Army air forces.

Geraldine turned to her mother, Leah Schuyler, who went with her on January 14 to meet one of Leah's friends, 49-year-old Mrs. Avis Konradt. 

Konradt, a nurse, took them to a rooming house where 79-year-old George E. Fosberg was caretaker. Fosberg was a physician whose license had been revoked in 1930 when he'd gone to prison for bank fraud. Fosberg examined Geraldine and agreed to perform an abortion.

The women returned to the rooming house on January 17. Mrs. Schuyler paid Fosberg $100, and he took Geraldine and her into the basement for the abortion, accompanied by Konradt.

Geraldine started to become ill on January 20. By the night of Saturday, January 22, she took a sudden turn for the worse and was quickly taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston shortly before midnight. At around 2:00 on the morning of the 23rd, she was dead.

Mrs. Schuyler told the police what had happened, and led them to the rooming house. There, police found Fosberg "in the dusty basement of the house, walking thru stacks of his old records as a physician." The police confiscated seven sets of surgical instruments.

Nurse Konradt testified against Fosberg during the trial, admitting that she had witnessed the abortion. 

Fosberg took the stand in his own defense, admitted that the three women had come to him on January 17 to request an abortion. He wept as he said, that he "resented" the request that he perform an abortion. "I suggested that she marry the man. I told her that if she had a baby she would never regret it."

The jury needed only 90 minutes to reach a decision. Fosberg was convicted of manslaughter rather than the more serious charge of murder by abortion. 

The judge had originally sentenced him to serve 14 years in prison. The sentence was deferred while Fosberg tried to get a new trial. The attempt failed. However, Fosberg's attorney argued that due to his client's age, a 14-year sentence was equivalent to a death sentence. Fosberg was sentenced to between one and three years. I have been unable to learn anything about the outcome of the charges against the nurse, Avis Konradt. She had been granted a separate trial.

The Schuyler family had moved to the Chicago area from Decatur, Illinois five years earlier. After Fosberg's conviction, her working-class parents returned to Decatur.

Sources:

January 23: Mystery Abortion Deaths in Chicago

A Lay Abortionist, 1929

As was the case nationwide before legalization, the majority of Chicago's illegal abortionists were midwives or physicians, though there were the occasional lay abortionists such as Katherine Bajda, identified as a homemaker in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database. Despite not being a medical professional, Bajda benefited from Chicago's catch-and-release system of dealing with deadly abortionists.

On January 23, 1929, 22-year-old Edna Vargo died in Chicago from an abortion performed that day, Bajda was held by the Coroner on February 14. On March 15, she was indicted for felony murder in Edna's death. Three days later, while free to ply her trade, Bajda got caught with 25-year-old abortion patient Violet Diancalana dead in her home.


An Unidentified Perp, 1925

On January 23, 1925, 34-year-old Kate Radochouski died at Chicago's Lakeside Hospital from complications of an abortion performed that day. The Homicide in Chicago database says that she died at the scene of the crime, and that there was an arrest on February 11. But there is no name given for the person arrested. No perpetrator was ever identified.


A Midwife, 1914

On January 23, 1914, 17-year-old Helen Klick, who worked as a domestic servant, died at Cook County Hospital from sepsis, arising from an abortion perpetrated on January 17 by midwife Margaret Wiedemann. Wiedemann, age about 46, was held by the Coroner for murder by abortion, but was acquitted.

Wiedemann had been arrested in May of the previous year for the death of Sophia Wagner. She admitted to having performed the fatal abortion. I've been unable as of yet to determine why she was free to be implicated in Helen's death. The fact that Wiedemann was at large is especially tragic in that she was convicted and sentenced to prison for Sophia's death nearly two years after Helen's death.


Another Midwife, 1913

On January 23, 1913, 32-year-old homemaker. Margaret Wagner died at Post Graduate Hospital in Chicago from septic infection caused by an abortion perpetrated on January 9. The suspected abortionist was midwife Caroline Orbach, aged about 45. Orbach was held by the Coroner on January 24. 

A woman named Mamie Williams testified that she had accompanied Margaret to Orbach's home frequently. Mamie Williams also said that Margaret told her that Orbach had performed an abortion on her. Orbach denied having perpetrated the abortion. The case went to trial but Orbach was acquitted on November 25 for reasons I have been unable to determine. ("Woman Held as Slayer," Chicago Examiner, January 25, 1913)




Friday, January 22, 2021

January 22: Two Habitually Deadly Doctors

Second of Four for Paulina Bechtel

On January 22, 1900, Mrs. Barbara Shelgren, age 25, died at Augustana Hospital in Chicago of an abortion performed that day. Dr. Paulina Bechtel, identified as a midwife in the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database, was arrested and held by Coroner's Jury and indicted of homicide by a grand jury, but the case was thrown out by Judge Holdom. Bechtel had already been tried in the October 3, 1895 abortion death of Mrs. Kittie Bassett. She had only just been implicated in the abortion death of Ida Henry earlier in January of 1900. She was later implicated in the abortion death of Mary Thorning in 1911.

Thirteenth of Eighteen for Lucy Hagenow

A bespectacled woman, past middle-age, staring intently into the camera. She wears a dark sailor-style hat and collar.
Lucy Hagenow
On January 22, 1925, 17-year-old homemaker Jean Cohen, a Connecticut native, died at Chicago's Montrose Hospital from an abortion. On January 31, Louise Hagenow was arrested in Jean's death. However, Hagenow, though a known abortionist, was for some reason cleared in Jean's death. Hagenow, had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie DorrisAbbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, then relocated to Chicago. Hagenow later noted that Chicago was corrupt and thus a genial environment for criminal abortionists. There she was connected to over a dozen abortion deaths, including  Minnie Deering, Sophia Kuhn , Emily Anderson, Hannah Carlson, Marie HechtMay Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Nina H. Pierce, Elizabeth WelterBridget MastersonLottie Lowy, and Mary MooreheadHagenow was typical of criminal abortionists in that she was a physician.