Wednesday, March 10, 2021

March 10: Self-Induced Abortion Leads to Man's Conviction for Conspiracy

Carson Sterling of New Holland, PA was convicted of having conspired with Naomi Frances Resh of Leacock Township to commit the abortion that caused her death.

Carson and Naomi were a couple from June to September of 1891. At that point, they had a quarrel and remained apart until February of 1892, when Carson went to Naomi's home, where she lived with her aunts twice. That month, Naomi left home and her aunts didn't see her again until February 24. She had gone to Philadelphia with Carson to meet a doctor "who would relieve Naomi of her trouble for $100." The doctor was a no-show so the couple went to New York to see Dr. H. W. Harner, also of New Holland, who was in New York attending professional lectures.

The couple met with Harner, and Naomi asked him to perpetrate an abortion. Harner told Naomi that abortion was dangerous and advised her not to go through with it. The couple then went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, remaining overnight before returning home on February 24.

There Naomi performed a self-induced abortion, delivering a premature and presumably dead baby. Dr. Sample was called in to treat Naomi but she was beyond help and died in early March.

One of Naomi's aunts, Hettie Grillabertzer, and two doctors, Brainard Leaman and Samuel Sample, testified that Naomi told them that she'd done the abortion with an instrument Carson had given her.

Carson said that he'd arranged to marry Naomi but her aunts objected to the engagement was broken off. He said that when they left Naomi's home he was planning to take her to Camden, New Jersey, to get married, but when they got as far as Philadelphia Naomi backed out. He said that he knew nothing about the abortion.

Carson appealed his conviction on technical grounds.

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