Monday, January 31, 2022

December: Another Justin Mitchell death.

A middle-aged white man with dark hair and a high forehead, wearing a light colored suit and dark tie
Dr. Justin Mitchell

On December 10, 1931, 30-year-old homemaker Ethel Vaughan died from abortion complications at St. Bernard's Hospital in Chicago. Her husband, clerk Harold Vaughan, alleged that Dr. Justin Mitchel had perpetrated the fatal abortion in his office on November 16.

According to the 1930 census, Harold and Ethel had a 6-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son. Ethel's mother, sister, ad brother-in-law lived with the couple as well. 

Mitchell was later implicated in the abortion deaths of Florence Jordan in 1933, of Mary Schwartz in 1934, and of Alice Haggin and Mary Nowalowski in 1936. 


Sunday, January 30, 2022

January 30: Add new info on Stella, uploaded in text

 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.

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. 2, 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. Norburg over my condition. I declare furthermore that Dr. L. P. Lorburg 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.

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 Mebzarek died in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated by nurse/midwife Anna Chezanowaki that same day. Chezanowaki was indicted by a Grand Jury on February 15, but the case never went to trial.

Sunday, January 16, 2022


 An inquest was held into the January 16, 1889 death of 22-year-old Kitty Cody, a young Oyster Bay woman, in Brooklyn. 

Frank P. Dudgeon had set Kitty up in Mrs. Anyon's house at 85 West Eighty-Ninth Street. Kitty took sick there. Mrs. Anyon, who testified that Dudgeon had sent a box to Kitty, along with "a letter from him explaining the use of the contents of the box." The box evidently contained abortifacients. Kitty died at the apartment of Mrs. M. A. Harriman at 124 Flatbush Avenue.

The inquest was a circus, "held in the Supervisor's chamber, which was literally packed with spectators. It was replete with dramatic incidents, with some of which the crowd expressed its sympathies with the prosecution by breaking into applause."

The state entered into evidence an affidavit from Nelly Cody, Kitty's sister. "It embodied extracts from a letter to the dead girl signed Petie, which accompanied a package containing medicine and a syringe." A witness was produced who identified Dudgeon as the man who had brought the package to Anyon's house.

Dr. Charles F. Hall and Mrs. M. A. Flarriman were found to be complicit in concealing the commission of an abortion. The prosecutor's office concluded that Kitty, provided with the abortion drugs, had attempted an abortion, then used an instrument provided to her to perform a self-induced abortion.

On May 21, she went to a doctor who cared for her until hospitalizing her on June 6. While hospitalized she'd said something that had led to the belief that Dr. Charles Singley had perpetrated an abortion. Singley, when arrested, said that Kitty was trying to blackmail him. His only contact with her had been, he said, when she'd come to his office for treatment for a pelvic abscess. He'd treated her, she'd paid her $2, and left. This had been about a month prior to seeking care from the doctor who had hospitalized her.

Dudgeon married Kitty the day before her death. Dudgeon was tried as an accessory to manslaughter in Kitty's death, but in April of 1889 "escaped conviction by a disagreement of the jury, which stood eight to four for conviction of manslaughter in the first degree." He was released on $10,000 bail, which he was able to pay himself in cash. In fact, so prosperous was Dudgeon that he managed to arrange a lavish birthday banquet for himself while he was in jail. However, in July of 1890, the DA of Kings County dismissed the indictment. Kitty's father, James Cody of Oyster Bay, sued Dudgeon for $100,000.