Saturday, August 13, 2022

August 13, 1954: A Pentacostal Preacher

Nathelyn Collins, age 17, died at Cook County Hospital on August 13, 1954 from complications of an abortion perpetrated by Rev. Clarence Loveaux in a back room of his storefront church, Pentecostal Righteous Temple of God.

Loveaux, age 59, identified himself as a "divine healer." He insisted that he had only been "giving treatment" to Nathelyn, not performing an abortion. 

Despite his protestations, Loveaux had two small rooms at the back of the church that were fully equipped with all the medical tools necessary for an abortion practice. 

Police were led to the makeshift abortuary by a 17-year-old white girl, Patricia Federowicz, who said that Loveaux had performed an abortion on her. Loveaux lived in the rooms, along with his wife and an adopted daughter.

Police, who had staked out the church for two weeks prior to the raid, said that Loveaux charged between $5 and $100 each for the hundreds of abortions he had perpetrated over a ten-year period. His clientele consisted primarily of unmarried girls and women receiving welfare for themselves and their dependent children.

He was arrested and charged with murder by abortion in Nathelyn's death.

I have been unable to determine the outcome of the case.

Finding a lay abortionist was unusual in the pre-legalization days. According to independent research by Planned Parenthood and Nancy Howell Lee, about 90% of women found doctors to perform abortions -- some of them legally or quasi-legally. Howell Lee's research found that most of the remaining women found somebody with medical training. Lay abortionists were far outside the norm.


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