Sunday, February 28, 2021

February 28: Planned Parenthood's Fatal Haste

A portrait of a young Hispanic woman with her hair dyed an orange shade, holding two little boys on her lap.
Diana Lopez and her children
Diana Lopez, age 25, was 19 weeks pregnant when she went to a Planned Parenthood for a safe and legal abortion on February 28, 2002. Before the day was over, Diana had bled to death. She left two sons, 4-year-old Frankie and 2-year-old Fabian, motherless. The taxpayers of California paid for the fatal abortion, courtesy of Medi-Cal.

Diana‘s husband, David, filed suit, alleging that the abortionist‘s haste caused severe lacerations that killed his wife. The suit says that Diana‘s abortion was rushed through in only six minutes, although Planned Parenthood‘s own web site says such a procedure should take 10 to 20 minutes. The lawsuit also blames Planned Parenthood for proceeding with an abortion even though her hemoglobin levels were abnormally low prior to the procedure.

 Dr. Mark Maltzer
After the abortion, Diana had been rushed by ambulance to County Women‘s Hospital. Dr. Mark Maltzer, who performed the abortion, neither accompanied his patient to the hospital nor spoke to the physicians who were taking over her care. Those doctors performed a hysterectomy was performed and gave Diana five units of whole blood in a futile attempt to save her life. She was pronounced dead at 2:45 p.m. Diana‘s autopsy noted that she had hemorrhaged from a perforation of her cervix.

The family‘s attorney also noted that in 2000, the same Planned Parenthood rushed another woman though a similar 6-minute abortion, lacerating the patient‘s cervix, rupturing her uterus, perforating her sigmoid colon and causing the loss of 2 liters of blood. Planned Parenthood also delayed three hours before transferring the patient to a hospital. Fortunately, this patient survived her ordeal.

A review of Los Angeles County civil cases indicates that this patient was probably Kimberly Thomas, who sued on April 19, 2002, after her abortion by Joseph Marmet. Kimberly‘s suit was one of roughly 50 filed against the Los Angeles Planned Parenthood from 1983 to 2002. The medical board took no action against Marmet.

The medical board took no action against Diana‘s abortionist, Maltzer, either. However, after being pestered by prolifers the California Department of Health Services investigated the facility and cited Planned Parenthood for:

  • Failing to institute a necessary change in medical protocol relating to the use of laminaria (used to expand the cervix) in the dilation and evacuation procedure.
  • Lacking the evidence to show a completed assessment of the competency and credentials of the physician who carried out the abortion.
  • Inadequately advising against a potentially dangerous second-trimester D&E procedure based on low hemoglobin levels which made Diana a high-risk patient.
  • Failing to follow proper surgical abortion policy and procedure by administering Cytotec to Diana on day one of the two-day abortion procedure, when policy requires it to be administered 90 minutes before the abortion procedure.
  • Having a "reproductive health specialist" rather than a physician do the informed consent on this high-risk patient.
  • Failing to inform Planned Parenthood‘s governing body of any adverse outcome related to patient care within the facility.
  • Failing to notify the Health Department of a patient's death within 24 hours of the occurrence.
  • Keeping incomplete records describing the services provided to Diana.

The fact that the Planned Parenthood has made "corrections" to satisfy the state does not satisfy Diana‘s family. "It was wrong. It was wrong," said Judy Lopez, Diana‘s older sister. "She was healthy. She was fine."

I also have some skepticism about how the "corrections" were made, since five years later, at another Southern California Planned Parenthood, a nurse placed laminaria in the cervix of patient Edrica Goode in spite of obvious signs of a vaginal infection. Since laminaria absorb whatever moisture is in the area so that they will expand and dilate the cervix, it's no surprise that the laminaria inserted into Edrica's cervix pulled the infection into her uterus and killed her.

The failure to assess the competency and credentials of a staff member also seems to me to be a Planned Parenthood failure of long standing and large geographic span, since in 1981 abortion patient Elise Kalat suffered a severe asthma attack after her abortion at a Massachusetts Planned Parenthood. When the medics arrived to take over Elise's care they found that nobody on site evidently knew how to perform even layman-quality CPR, much less the type of advanced CPR that would be expected of medical professionals. 

Far too many other women have died from screw-ups and bad judgement at Planned Parenthood. 

Cree Erwin-Shephard, age 24, suffered internal injuries during an abortion at Planned Parenthood in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her mother found her cold and stiff in the guest bedroom on the 4th of July, 2016. 

Tonya Reaves, age 24, left a one-year-old child motherless when she bled to death in July of 2012 after an abortion at a Chicago Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood staff had delayed for four hours before transporting Tonya to a properly equipped hospital.

In 2009, 17-year-old Roselle Owens died from apparent anesthesia complications after an abortion at Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger Center in New York. Her family said that the staff had failed to monitor her properly and delayed transport to a properly equipped hospital. 

Holly Patterson, age 18, died in mid-September of 2003 from sepsis caused by abortion drugs she got at a Planned Parenthood in Hayward, California. Instead of instructing Holly to place the second dose inside her cheek and letting it dissolve, as the FDA instructed, Planned Parenthood told her that she could insert it vaginally. Researchers believe that the vaginal insertion of this second drug makes otherwise healthy young women particularly vulnerable to sudden death from toxic shock syndrome.

Vivian Tran, age 22, and died in late December of 2003, six days into a medical abortion process started at another California Planned Parenthood. Like Holly Patterson, she had been told to use the second drug vaginally instead of placing it in her cheek in keeping with FDA recommendations.

Planned Parenthood doesn't seem to be upholding the standards they want everybody to believe they're upholding.

Watch Fatal Haste on YouTube.


February 28: A Fatal Referral and Other Tragedies

1993: A Fatal Referral by Planned Parenthood

Andrea Corey was 31 years old when she was referred by nearby Planned Parenthood to Southern Tier Women's Services in New York for a safe and legal abortion. Andrea  was sent home after her abortion, but she had retained tissue that caused clostridium perfringens septicemia ("gas gangrene"). She died at Rutland Regional Medical Center in Rutland, Vermont on February 28, 1993.

1992: Scant Information from the US Virgin Islands

Diane Adams died February 28, 1992 after an abortion most likely performed by Angel Acevado Montalvo in the US Virgin Islands. The only information I've been able to gather on Diane I. Adams comes from pro-life web sites. Human Life International mentions that abortionist Angel Acevado Montalvo was charged with manslaughter in two cases of maternal deaths from safe and legal abortion. HLI also notes that after his conviction, Montalvo went right back to business doing abortions. Priests for Life posts a list of women who have died from legal abortions, including Diane Adams, whose date of death they give as February 28, 1992. They cite a March 5, 1992 article in the Virgin Islands Daily News. They cite one other death, that of Rosael Rodriguez, from that article. Rosael Rodriguez and Diane Adams are most likely the two women referred to by HLI. 

1918: A Likely Lay Abortionist in Chicago

On February 28, 1918, 27-year-old Mrs. Catherine Lurandowski died at Chicago's County Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Katerine Eichenberg on November 20 of 1917. Eichenberg, whose profession is given only as "abortion provider", was also noted as "known to police" and operating sometimes under the alias of Ekowski. She might have been a midwife, since they were very common abortionists in Chicago at the time, though she might also have been a lay abortionist with or without a doctor providing training, instruments, medications, and back-up.

1914: An Unknown Perp in Chicago

On February 28, 1914, 23-year-old homemaker Martha Kwasek died at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Chicago from septicemia caused by an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

February 27: Deaths Before Roe, Chicago and New York

1926: Lethal Chicago Midwife

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chicago had an underground abortion culture populated primarily by doctors and midwives. In February of 1926, 36-year-old Anna Barg Wilger, or somebody else who wanted to keep her pregnancy from ending in the birth of a living baby, sought out one of those midwives, Theresa Struhala. On February 27, Struhala perpetrated the abortion on Anna in the Wilger home. Anna died there that day. Struhala was indicted for felony murder in Anna's death. I don't know the outcome of the case, but do know that Struhala went on to be implicated in the 1934 abortion death of Evelyn Yazitt (possibly Vavitt).

1971: Safe and Legal in New York

"Roseanne" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. Roseanne was in the second trimester of pregnancy when she chose safe and legal abortion, permissible under New York's liberalized abortion law, in 1971. She was 37 years old, had had four children. Roseanne's doctor chose the saline abortion method, which is performed by injecting a strong, sterile salt solution into the amniotic fluid. The fetus swallows and inhales the salty fluid, which causes massive internal bleeding and death. The woman then goes into labor. Roseanne was infused with saline for the abortion. Two days later, she began vomiting and having seizures. She aspirated some of the vomit and developed pneumonia. The pneumonia took its toll. Roseanne died on February 27 from the pneumonia and anoxic brain damage.

The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to "Danielle," these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:

  • "Judy" Roe, July, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • Carmen Rodriguez, July, 1970, salt solution intended to kill the fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • Barbara Riley, July, 1970, sickle-cell crisis triggered by abortion recommended by doctor due to her sickle cell disease
  • "Linda Michelle Hoffman", September, 1970, sent back to her home in Indiana with an untreated hole poked in her uterus
  • Maria Ortega, October, 1970, fetus shoved through her uterus into her pelvic cavity then left there
  • "Kimberly" Roe, December, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Amy" Roe, January, 1971, massive pulmonary embolism
  • "Andrea" Roe, January, 1971, overwhelming infection
  • "Sandra" Roe, April, 1971, committed suicide due to post-abortion remorse
  • "Anita" Roe, May, 1971, bled to death in her home during process of outpatient saline abortion
  • Margaret Smith, June 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Annie" Roe, June, 1971, cardiac arrest during anesthesia
  • "Audrey" Roe, July, 1971, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Vicki" Roe, August, 1971, post-abortion infection
  • "April" Roe, August, 1971, injected with saline for outpatient abortion, went into shock and died
  • "Barbara" Roe, September, 1971, cardiac arrest after saline injection for abortion
  • "Tammy" Roe, October, 1971, massive post-abortion infection
  • Carole Schaner, October, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Beth" Roe, December, 1971, saline injection meant to kill fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • "Connie" Roe, March, 1972, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Julie" Roe, April, 1972, holes torn in her uterus and bowel
  • "Robin" Roe, May, 1972, lingering abortion complications
  • "Roxanne" Roe, May, 1972, given overdose of abortion sedatives
  • "Danielle" Roe, May, 1972, air in her bloodstream

Friday, February 26, 2021

February 26: Precursor to an Epidemic of Abortion Deaths

Marie Epperson, a 19-year-old telephone operator, died February 26, 1929 after an abortion in Oklahoma City. Two physicians were suspected: Richard Thacker and John W. Eisiminger. There wasn't even news coverage of the case and everything seemed to just blow over. 

Three years later all hell broke lose.

The spring of 1932 brought a sudden string of criminal abortion deaths to Oklahoma City, attributed to Thacker and Eisiminger either singly or as a pair:
  • March 18: Margaret Ann Kuenkel  (Thacker)
  • April 3:  Ethel Hestand (Thacker)
  • April 14:  Isobel Ferguson (Eisiminger and Thacker)
  • April 15: Ruth Hall (Eisiminger and Thacker)
  • April 20:  Robbie Lou Thompson (Thacker)
  • April 23: Virginia Lee Wyckoff  (Eisiminger)
  • April 23: Lennis May Roach (Eisiminger and Thacker)
  • April 24: Nancy Joe Lee (Thacker)
A little bit more attention from the authorities after Marie's death could have prevented the deaths of as many as eight other women.

Watch Fatal Foot-Dragging on YouTube.

February 26: A Doctor, a Midwife, and an Abortifacient

Cordelia Calkins, age 18, died in Brooklyn on February 26, 1860 from the effects of an abortifacient

In August of 1859, the two Calkins sisters, age 16 and 18, moved to Brooklyn to live in the boarding house of Mrs. Young. "Both were possessed of good figures and considerable personal attractions, and were employed from time to time at the different theatres as ballet girls".

The elder, Cordelia, took up with the landlady's son, Charles, "which resulted in the girl's ruin and death." In mid February, 1860, Cordelia discovered that she was pregnant, and prevailed upon Charles to help arrange an abortion. Charles asked his brother William to buy a bottle of oil of tansy. William testified that he didn't know what the oil of tansy was for.

Cordelia started a regimen of the tansy, while Charles made "other efforts of abortion", which succeeded in making her very sick. "For several days she was confined to her bed, suffering the most intense physical pain."

About this time, Mrs. Young relocated to another part of the city, leaving the Calkins sisters looking for new lodgings. Since Cordelia was so sick, a young man living next door to the original Young house set the sisters up in his room.

Cordelia's condition continued to deteriorate. Dr. H.W. Fowler, who had an office nearby, was summoned. He found out about the abortion attempt and administered witch-hazel and ginger tea to finish off the abortion, thinking that this would save Cordelia's life. "The decoction, however, while it added to her sufferings, did not answer the purpose for which it had been administered, and after lingering in great agony till Sunday afternoon, death came to her release."

On her deathbed, Cordelia insisted that she had attempted the abortion entirely on her own, with no help from anybody. But the coroner's inquest recommended the arrest of both Charles Young, as the primary, and Dr. Fowler as an accessory.

Young, for his part, made three unsuccessful suicide attempts after his arrest. The first time, in March, was attempted by dosing with laudanum. The doctor who treated him for the overdose asked him why he had taken it, and Charles said to him, "I am persecuted for an offense of which I am not guilty. I am in trouble; and the shortest way to end it is to die. I am not afraid to die."

Don't blame the legal status of abortion for Cordelia's decision to go herbal -- some women continue to embrace herbal abortion. (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!)

Wanda Szidzewicz, age 23, died on February 26, 1924 from complications of an abortion perpetrated by midwife Ida Cantor in Worchester County, Massachusetts.

In Templeton, Worchester County, Massachusetts, on February 6, 1924, Ida Cantor performed an abortion on 23-year-old homemaker Wanda Szidzewicz. Wanda, an immigrant from Poland, developed septicemia after the abortion, and went to a Massachusetts hospital on February 11. She was treated there until her death on February 26.

Testimony at Ida's trial indicated that Ida's profession was midwife, since she delivered at least one baby that Dr. Sawyer and Ida's own husband testified to.

The jury found that Ida used improperly sterilized or non-sterile instruments in the abortion. A key part of the prosecution's case was a deathbed statement by the injured woman. The medical examiner found "no evidence of violence outside or in", but did find evidence that instruments had been used to perform an abortion. He also testified that Wanda had said that Ida Cantor had performed the abortion in question. A Dr. Sawyer testified that he'd told Wanda that she was dying, testimony intended to add credibility to her deathbed statement.

A doctor from the hospital, however, testified that the death and expulsion of the fetus, along with Wanda's injuries, might have been brought about with "an accidental abortion", such as that caused by lifting a heavy box. Hospital records stated that Wanda had lifted a heavy box at some point, "four days before".

Ida's attorney's launched a scattershot and ineffectual defense. Part of it was putting forth Ida's assertion that she she'd had to ask the police why she was being arrested -- she claimed that this proved that she'd not known anything abut Wanda's abortion or death. Her lawyer asked an expert witness if the "constant jarring operation of a sewing machine" could have caused Wanda to miscarry, but never introduced any evidence that Wanda had operated a sewing machine. The defense had tried to place Ida's grandchild's birth certificate into evidence as proof that she'd been at the child's birthday party in New York at the time of the abortion and thus couldn't have performed it. Ida's husband's testimony did nothing to aid her; in fact, it contradicted her.

After her conviction, Ida appealed, but her conviction was upheld. Wanda's widower, Waclaw , also successfully sued Ida.

Dorothy Weber died February 26, 1943 after an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Henry Gross.

Dr. Henry Gross was investigated for the February 26, 1943 abortion death of 20-year-old waitress Dorothy Webber of Altgeld Street in Elmwood Park, Illinois.

During that investigation, Gross was tried and convicted for the abortion death of Lavern Perez.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

February 25: Sent Home With a Trash Bag

At around 9 a.m. on February 22, 1980, 26-year-old Betty Jane Damato's sister, Mary Zellers, dropped her off at Abortion Clinic of Denver where 55-year-old Dr. James Everett Franklin was to perform a safe, legal abortion. Betty was 26 weeks pregnant.

That afternoon, Mary called the clinic and talked to her sister, who said that she'd had complications during the abortion. Mary went to pick Betty up and found her pale, weak, and in pain, clutching her stomach. 

When she helped Betty get out of the car at her apartment, Mary notice a blood stain on the seat where Betty had been sitting. She decided to take Betty to spend the night with her at the Zellers home.

The morning of February 25, Betty was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Porter Memorial Hospital, where she was found to have gone into total cardio-respiratory arrest. She was pronounced dead shortly after arriving. 

An autopsy revealed that Betty had died from massive infection originating from "a partially truncated and macerated fetus." Franklin had removed little more than the arms. 

According to Betty's family, Franklin knew that he had not removed all of the fetus. He instead had given Betty a trash bag, and instructions to collect whatever she expelled in the bag and bring it to him.

Franklin, an osteopath, told a grand jury that he did not perform the fatal abortion. He claimed that he had examined Betty, found the decomposing foot and ankle of the fetus protruding, and sent her to the hospital. However, when Betty was examined at the hospital, the fetus was protruding head first, making it impossible for Franklin to have observed its ankle since, as an expert witness testified, it's impossible for a dead fetus to turn around in the vagina and emerge head first.

A jury convicted him of manslaughter in Betty's death on October 19, 1981, and he was sentenced to prison for three years. 

Franklin already had a history of malpractice including causing an 11-year-old boy to be left paralyzed after a botched appendectomy and a man who died while hospitalized under Franklin's care.

Watch Trash Bag Aftercare on YouTube.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

February 23: A Possibly Legal Abortion in 1906

Profile shot of a scowling elderly white man with glasses and thick, white hair cut short
Dr. George Fosberg
On February 23, 1906, 26-year-old Bessie Orme died at her home in Chicago. Dr. George Fosberg said that he had performed an abortion on her in an attempt to save her life. He had then tried to insist that she be taken to a hospital, but when the family refused, he withdrew from the case.

I've been unable to learn what objection, if any, the family had made. Bessie's mother-in-law, Charity Orme, testified at the inquest and said that she'd traveled from her home in Kokomo, Indiana, to care for Bessie while she was ill. She was the one who had given the authorities Fosberg's name when they investigated.

Dr. Frank J. Otis took over Bessie's care and was the attending physician at the time of her death. He testified, "I was summoned the day of her death. An examination showed that she was suffering from inflammation of the abdominal organs, and that an operation had been performed. I notified the health department, and when I was asked the contributory causes of death I told of the operation."

A coroner's jury was unable to determine whether or not Fosberg had been attempting to save Bessie's life when he performed the procedure, so the verdict was issued as open. 
This left Fosberg free in 1916 to be implicated in the abortion death of Pauline Hill. For reasons I've been unable to determine, that case never went to trial either.

Fosberg lost his license to practice medicine after being convicted of bank fraud. After his release from prison he opened a boarding house, where he perpetrated a fatal abortion on Geraldine Schuyler in 1944.

Watch Fosberg's Mistake on YouTube.


February 23: An Extortion Case and Other Tragedies

Extortion Complaint Uncovers Abortion Death, 1943

On February 14, 1943, Amelia Cardito, 34-year-old mother of 4, underwent an illegal abortion at the office of Dr. Anthony Renda. Amelia died nine days later in a New York hospital.

Renda, author of three books on obstetrics, may have been a smart doctor, but he was a stupid criminal. He implicated himself when he called police to complain that Amelia's widower, James, was shaking him down for $2,500 to cover hospital and funeral expenses. Police were able to observe Renda paying Cardito $1,000. Mr. Cardito didn't face any extortion charges, but Renda was sentenced to 7 years in Sing-Sing for Amelia's death.

An Unidentified Chicago Perp, 1928

On February 23, 1928, 26-year-old waitress Martha S. Watson , a Wisconsin native, died in Chicago from an illegal abortion. The person or persons responsible were never identified or prosecuted.

A Doc Implicated in Chicago, 1917

On February 23, 1917, 28-year-old Miss Bertha Dombrowski, who worked as a maid, died at Chicago's Garfield Park Hospital from a uterine perforation caused by an abortion. Dr. John L. Van Valkenburg was implicated.

Physician-Husband Perpetrates Fatal Abortion, 1916

Twenty-six-year-old doctor Lester Lemuel Long married Helen Turner, daughter of Circuit Judge Chester M. Turner and his wife, Emma, of Cambridge, Illinois, in December of 1915.

By February of 1916, the young couple's associates and neighbors began gossiping about a premature baby bump. Socially snubbed, the couple elected to get rid of the impending baby. Long made three surgical abortion attempts, and Helen grew successively more ill. Lester called in two other doctors, who refused to render aid until both husband and wife agreed to sign a document admitting to the abortion attempts. The aid of the other physicians came too late (not surprising, given sanitation and the state of medicine at the time), and Helen, 25 years old, died at home on February 23, 1916. The physicians contacted the police.

News coverage painted a pathetic picture of the young man, so distraught at his wife's death that it took the police five minutes to calm him down enough to tell him he was under arrest. He reportedly was seen while in jail pacing his cell, weeping and crying out, "Can she live? Can she live?"

Lester was held by the Coroner and indicted by a Grand Jury on March 15, but the case never went to trial.

"On the Advice of a Quack," 1915

All I have been able to learn about Josepha Zrowsky is that she died February 23, 1915 in Chicago after an abortion she performed herself "on advice of quack."

An Unidentified Chicago Doc, 1908

"Mrs. H," whom I dubbed "Dottie," underwent an abortion at the hands of a physician on February 18, 1908. Two days later she began to suffer from vomiting and abdominal pain. Three days after that, on February 23, she arrived at Cook County hospital "in stuporous condition." Her vital signs were of concern but not enough to be alarming: Pulse of 120, respirations of 28, and a temperature of 98.6. Two hours after admission her respiration rate was the same and her temperature slightly lower at 98 degrees. Her pulse, however, had shot up to 160. Dottie was clearly decompensating. She died that same day.

Monday, February 22, 2021

February 22: A Fatal Medically Indicated Abortion

Barbara Hoppert was a sixteen-year-old high school sophomore when she checked into Loma Linda University Hospital for an abortion. Barbara was in the second trimester of her pregnancy. She was having the abortion on the recommendation of her physician, because of a congenital heart condition. The abortion was performed on February 22, 1983. During the procedure, Barbara's heart stopped. Physicians were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead on the operating table.

The following comment was posted on this blog:
It's been almost 24 years since I was at the Loma Linda Hospital and was roomed with Barbara Hoppert, but not year goes by when Feb 22nd rolls around and I don't think of her. She died that day during her abortion procedure. I just now put her name into google and found your article on her. It was barely 4 sentences and seemed as cold as her death. She was once alive and had such a sad end and dramatic story. It still brings me to tears today thinking about her last night alive... how she was treated by her own family and the staff at the hospital. We watched Square Pegs that night on tv. And she told me about the boy who had impregnated her... She left early the next morning and I wished her good luck... An hour later a woman came to the room, later I found out that was her "real" mother whom Barbara thought was her sister. She missed seeing Barbara that one last time.... Barbara's story is very tragic. I am so very sad that she was so alone her last night alive. I was her only comfort and I was a complete stranger. Don't know how comforting I was other than I cried with her and listened.... Knowing the pain she was in.... She remains in my prayers. Just thought you should know she was more than just part of your cause.
Thanks to the woman who came forward to share this memory of Barbara.

Barbara's was not the only tragic death caused by doctors who recommended (or excused) abortion as a life-saving or health-preserving option for the mother:
  • Allegra Roseberry was pushed into an abortion in order to obtain experimental cancer treatment.
  • Anjelica Duarte sought an abortion on the advice of her physician, and ended up dying under the care of a quack.
  • Christin Gilbert died after an abortion supposedly justified on grounds of maternal health.
  • Erika Peterson died in when her doctors obtained her husband's permission to perform a "therapeutic" abortion.
  • "Molly" Roe died in when her doctors made the dubious decision to perform a saline abortion to improve her chances of surviving a lupus crisis.

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

February 21: Kidney Experiment Proves Futile for Abortion Victim

Homemaker Lois Irvine, age 31, was in critical condition in Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia in February of 1951. Her kidneys began to fail due to sepsis so doctors tried an experiment. They  removed a kidney from the body of a 30-year-old truck driver who had been killed an hour earlier in a traffic crash. They placed the kidney on a clay filter inside a glass jar where it was bathed in a salt solution and kept at body temperature. They then flushed Lois's blood through it. In spite of this effort, Lois died on February 21. Doctors believe that the effort failed because too long a time had passed between the man's death and the removal of the kidney.

Lois left three children motherless.

Helen Castor, age 30, was arrested and charged with perpetrating an abortion that had caused Lois's decline and eventual death. She was released on $2,500 bail. The police also investigated Lois's husband, Richard; Mrs. Castor's husband, Vernon; and a woman named Dorothy Jaskolski.  The fatal abortion had been performed in Lois's home on February 3.

As an aside, it seems that the doctors did not get consent from the truck driver's family before removing his kidney, but his grandmother, who had adopted him after his mother's death, said, "Legally they had no right to do it, but if he was dead then I think it was alright."

Watch The Kidney in the Jar on YouTube.


February 21: A Dying Declaration

On February 21, 1929, 26-year-old Virginia Clark died in Kentucky of complications of a botched, illegal abortion perpetrated in Georgia. G. W. Wilbanks and W. A. N. Jones were charged with murder in her death. Wilbanks was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and the following information comes from the Westlaw commentary on his appeal.

Virginia was treated prior to her death by a Dr. McArthur, who testified as to her dying declaration. He said that Virginia told him that when she learned that she was pregnant, she told the man responsible that "something would have to done about it." He made arrangements for an abortion to be performed by a doctor. The paramour brought the doctor to Virginia, and he used medicine and instruments on her. The procedure was so painful that Virginia asked him to stop, so the doctor administered chloroform. According to Dr. McArthur, Virginia told him that this abortion "was what had butchered her up and was killing her."

Virginia didn't tell her mother, Mrs. Goodwyne, about the abortion. Mrs. Goodwyne testified, "She (Virginia Clark) said that she went to the theatre [in Atlanta] or something, and it seemed like there was something broke, and she said she thought she wouldn't be able to get back to the hotel, but she did."

Wilbanks tried to get his conviction overturned on the grounds of the difference between what Virginia told her mother, and what she told Dr. McArthur as she lay dying.

Virginia's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

Saturday, February 20, 2021

February 20: The Deliberate Overdose

Deliberate Overdose Kills Patient

When 23-year-old Stacy Ruckman had just gotten a new job when she went to Scott Barrett for a 
safe and legal abortion on February 20, 1988. Unfortunately, she didn't know how he anesthetized his patients at his unlicensed clinic: Central Health Center for Women in Springfield, Missouri.

Barrett began the 13-14 week abortion at around 5 p.m. During the abortion, Stacy stopped breathing, Barrett and his staff were unable to revive her. 

Another source had Stacy on the table for half an hour without mishap, but collapsing when she got off the table at 6 p.m. This story is less than credible, since abortions don't usually taken an entire hour.

Staff called an ambulance, but the medics found Stacy in full cradio-respiratory arrest, with unresponsive pupils. The resuscitation attempts made by paramedics included suctioning "copious amounts of blood" from Stacy's airway, inserting an endotracheal tube, administering medications and oxygen, putting in an IV, and using a defibrillator.

They transferred Stacy to the emergency room, where she had a racing pulse and fixed, dilated pupils. She was unable to breathe on her own. The hospital transfused her with packed red blood cells and gave her additional IV fluids, but her EEG "revealed findings consistent with brain death" 

Stacy's parents, who hadn't even known she'd been pregnant, rushed to the hospital to find that they daughter they'd loved so well was gone. They agreed with the doctors to remove life support, and Stacy was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m.

That night when we walked out of the hospital I just felt like I left part of me in there. Part of me was dead,'' Stacy's mother Judith said. You carry a child for nine months and something like that happens, you feel like you lost part of yourself, part of your body. And you're never going to get it back.''

Scott Barrett's clinic
Stacy's father requested an autopsy, which found toxic concentrations of Lidocaine in Stacy's blood. Her serum level, as tested in blood drawn 2 hour after the abortion, was 8.1 ug/ml, or more than five times the therapeutic level of 1.5 ug/ml. An expert who testified later estimated that, based on how fast the body metabolizes Lidocaine, the amount in her system at the time of the abortion could have been as high as 16 ug/ml, over ten times the therapeutic dose.

In order to rule out other causes of death, the coroner examined ten times the normal number of specimens, looking for signs of an amniotic fluid embolism. He could find no such evidence. He also found no evidence of "any naturally occurring disease process which could account for Ms. Ruckman's death." What he did find was "history of a grand mal seizure and cardiac arrest after a 'therapeutic' abortion at 13.8 weeks gestation." Stacy also had suffered cerebral and pulmonary edema (swelling of the brain and lungs), pulmonary hemorrhage (excessive bleeding in the lungs), clotted and unclotted blood in her mouth and nose, around 55 cc of bloody fluid surrounding her lungs, and another 200 cc's of bloody fluid in her pelvic cavity.

Stacy's parents sued. An anesthesiologist was asked under oath to give any and all possible medically valid reasons for administering that high a dose of Lidocaine; he repeatedly answered that he could think of none. The only reason he could think of -- not a medically valid one -- was to speed up the abortion. Barrett's nurse testified that he typically did 35-40 abortions per day, at $300 each.

Dr. Scott Barrett
She, and other staff, also testified that Barrett routinely gave patients massive dosed of Lidocaine in order to render them unconscious.

The court found that Barrett altered or falsified Stacy's records in attempt to cover his culpability. The Medical board likewise implicated Barrett in Stacy's death. They also found fault with him regarding other matters:
  • Barrett perforated the uterus of patient S.G., causing hemorrhage. He was inadequately prepared to treat her and delayed transfer to a hospital.
  • Barret performed an incomplete abortion on patient S.C., causing an infection.
  • Barrett lacked hospital admitting privileges.
  • Barrett routinely administered lidocaine improperly and without means available to treat any adverse reactions.
  • Barrett pre-signed prescription forms for controlled substances and left them around his office where staff would have access to them.
A jury awarded Stacy's parents $25.3 million for the wrongful death of their daughter -- $330,000 in actual damages, and $25 million in aggravated damages. However, Barrett carried no insurance and was not represented at all during the trial; he himself failed to show up. He had insisted to the media that the case was only being pursued as a way of putting abortion clinics out of business.

In spite of the medical board investigation and the fact that the clinic was unlicensed, Barrett continued to perform up to 40 abortions a day.  The Springfield News Leader also noted that local hospitals were failing to report to the authorities when they were treating Barrett's patients for complications. He also continued to perform abortions in the suburban St. Louis clinic he operated in partnership with Dr. Bolivar Escobedo. 

The paper also noted that Barrett had left one woman saddled with $3,000 in medical bills to treat an incomplete abortion he had performed on her, and had sliced another woman's uterus in half during an abortion. Doctors who spoke to the Springfield Leader expressed frustration with the state's failure to shut Barrett down, saying that they were tired of dealing with patients whose abortions he'd botched and then left without any arrangements for aftercare. One doctor said he'd treated a woman who had bled for two months following an abortion by Barrett but when she would call the clinic they'd tell her the bleeding was normal.

Stacy's mother, Judith, told the paper that at least ten people had spoken to her after the malpractice case, telling of their own experiences. One stopped her in a grocery store to talk. Three years after Stacy's death her parents were still fighting to get Barrett's license revoked.

Watch Fatal Shortcut on YouTube.

February 20: A Repeat Offender and Other Abortionists

An Inadequately Documented Deathbed Statement

An inquest was held in the February 20, 1856 death of Catharine DeBreuxal.

A witness testified that Catharine suffered "a violent hemorrhage" at 
Dr. Cobel's house in New York, where she had remained for a few days. The medical examiner concluded that Catharine had died from an infection.

"An effort was made by the defense to show that the deceased was a woman's bad character; but the evidence on that point was not admitted on account of its irrelevance."

The coroner's jury called for the arrest of Cobel, as well as of Francis Legoupil, as an accessory.  Cobel had been permitted to confront Catherine on her deathbed, challenging her and asking whey she had named him as her abortionist. She replied, "Because you operated on me."

Cobel was acquitted in April because Catharine's deposition was not taken formally before her death, and there was no further evidence that Cobel was the guilty party. He remained free to be charged with additional abortion deaths: the 1858 death of Amelia Weber, the 1865 death of Emma Wolfer, the 1870 death of Catherine Shields, and the 1875 death of Antoinette Fennor.

Travel Plans Lead to Fatal Abortion

Ada Williams, about 27 years old, was living in Denver in early 1916 when she got a letter from her mother in Nebraska. Nearly 50, Ada's mother was going to give birth soon and feared that she might die in childbirth, so she asked Ada to come to her.

Dr. Noble O. Hamilton
Ada, pregnant herself, decided to have an abortion before she left in order to facilitate the journey. With her husband, Thomas, she went to Dr. 
Noble O. Hamilton on Sunday, February 13, asking about proceeding with the abortion Ada had already discussed with him. Hamilton told her to return the following day, and told Thomas to bring $25, which was how much he charged for delivering a baby and seemed to be a fair amount to charge for aborting one.

Ada returned as instructed at about 9:40 in the morning. Hamilton later admitted that he examined Ada, including a vaginal exam, and inserted a medicated tampon, but denied that he had performed any abortion.

On Tuesday morning, Thomas stopped by Hamilton's office on the way to work and paid $10 toward the abortion. After Thomas had gone, Ada got up and went to visit a friend, who later reported that she seemed ill.

Wednesday came and Ada stayed in bed, where she labored and delivered a dead three-month fetus. She sent for Hamilton, who wrapped the dead baby in paper and burned it in the stove. He gave aftercare instructions and left.

On Thursday, Ada was showing signs of going septic. Hamilton diagnosed her as having typhoid fever. The next day he brought in a Dr. Gundrum to consult about the typhoid diagnosis but said nothing about the abortion, not even to claim that Ada had miscarried.

Dr. Monson came to check on Ada on Friday and found her in grave condition. Hamilton still tried to keep the abortion a secret but Monson managed to ferret out the information from Ada somehow. He admitted Ada to a hospital, where she died of sepsis the evening of Sunday, February 20.

When convicted and sentenced to ten to eleven years, Hamilton swore his innocence. The verdict in the Ada Williams case was upheld on appeal.

Scant Info on Chicago Abortion

On February 20, 1927, 23-year-old Angenita Hargarten died in her Chicago home from an abortion performed there that day. Midwives Anna Trezek and Frances Raz were held by the coroner, Trezek as the principal and Raz as her accomplice.

February 20: A Puerto Rican Woman in New York

As I searched through New York death records I found the February 20, 1947 death of 40-year-old Carmen Palacio Gerena. Carmen was a Black woman who had been born in Puerto Rico in 1906 to Jose and Maria Palacio. She worked at a dress factory and lived with her husband, Salvatore, on West 103rd Street in Manhattan.

Carmen died of paralytic ileus, septic peritonitis, following septic endometritis and pelvic abscess from an criminal abortion in Harlem Hospital.

Carmen's sister, Margarita, was her executor. I've been unable to determine anything else about Carmen.

Friday, February 19, 2021

February 19: The Ectopic Pregnancy Paradox

Failure to Diagnose Leads to Death

Magnolia Thomas was a 35-year-old mother of two when she went to Hedd Surgi-Center in Chicago for a safe, legal abortion performed by Rudolph Moragne on February 19, 1986. Moragne failed to note that the fetus was growing in Magnolia's fallopian tube, rather than in her uterus. After Magnolia was discharged from the clinic, the undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy ruptured, and Magnolia was rushed to the hospital. There, doctors did everything they could to save her, but she died from blood loss and shock on February 19, 1986.

This was Magnolia's third abortion. Multiple abortions are a known risk factor for ectopic pregnancy. Even though, in theory, women who choose abortion should be less likely to die of ectopic pregnancy complications, experiences shows that they're actually //more// likely to die, due to sloppy practices by abortion practitioners.

Another patient, Diane Watson, died of anesthesia complications after she'd undergone a safe, legal abortion by Moragne at Hedd.

A Midwife's Fatal Work

Ida Prochnow, a 35-year-old German-born homemaker, died in St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Chicago on February 19, 1906, from septicemia caused by an abortion performed earlier that day. Midwife Maggie or Madaline Motgna was arrested in the death.

Watch Failure Equals Death on YouTube.