Sunday, February 12, 2023

February 12, 1907: Doctor Named in Dying Declaration

On February 11, 1907, housemaid Nellie Walsh, a 28-year-old Irish immigrant, was brought to National Emergency Hospital in Chicago in grave condition from complications of a criminal abortion. She had been admitted to the hospital by Dr. Michael Nelson, who had been called to her home and had been alarmed by her condition. A curettage was performed at around 4:00 that afternoon to try to save her life, but her condition continued to deteriorate.

The next day, February 12, the doctor told Nellie that there was nothing more that could be done for her, and that she was dying. Head nurse Cora Bachino asked Nellie if she'd like a priest to administer last rites. Nellie answered yes, and a priest was brought to her.

Shortly after receiving last rites, Nellie made her dying declaration. She named the baby's father as Patrick O'Connell of Wilcox Avenue. She named Dr. Adolph Buettner of 679 Lincoln Avenue as her abortionist. She said that Buettner had perpetrated the abortion at her request on Wednesday, February 6, after assuring her that "there would be no danger."

After the abortion, Nellie said, she had returned home and become ill. That was when Dr. Nelson had been called in to care for her and had decided to admit her to the hospital.

A stenographer, in the presence of nurse Bachino and another witness, typed up the statement. After both copies -- the handwritten one by the stenographer and the typed one, were read to her, Nellie confirmed that she understood them.

Less than an hour later, she died.

Both O'Connell and Buettner were arrested. Though O'Connell admitted that he'd taken Nellie to Buettner's office, and Buettner admitted to having attended to her, both denied any involvement in an abortion. 

Buettner, who had been practicing in Chicago for a number of years, had been indicted for another abortion case seven or eight years before Nellie's death. Found guilty of manslaughter for Nellie's death, was sentenced to Joliet. O'Connell was acquitted.


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