Tuesday, October 31, 2023

October 31, 1921: Abortionist Accused by Dead Woman's Mother

 During the inquest into the 1923 abortion death of Lydia Nelson, Emma Sales of South Morgan Street, Chicago, jumped to her feet and struck Dr. Charles Klinetop in the face. Mrs. Sales said that the death of her daughter, Harriet Grimm, was due to an abortion Klinetop had perpetrated.

Harriet Ida Grimm, wife of Edward Grimm, had died at Chicago's Lakeside Hospital on October 31, 1921.

I've been unable to find any documentation on the cause of Harriet's death. She doesn't even show up on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database. All I can find is confirmation of her death at age 20.

Watch Did Dr. Klinetop Kill Harriet Grimm? on YouTube.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

October 28, 1876: Sarah Jane's "Interesting Condition"

 Sarah Jane and her Family

Fifteen-year-old Sarah Jane Beaver lived with her mother, Mrs. Sarah Beaver Spencer, and her two brothers, Andrew and William, on a farm owned by Shepherd Cox in Ursa Township, near Quincy, Indiana.

Sarah Jane and her brothers were the children of their mother's first marriage, prior to the Civil War. Sarah Jane's father was a soldier who died at Vicksburg. The family went north after the war. They were poor and illiterate.

What to Do About Sarah's "Interesting Condition"

In April of 1876, Mrs. Spencer sent Sarah Jane and one of her brothers into town for some medicine. The two parted ways in town, and the boy was unable to find Sarah Jane. He went home to his mother alone. Though there were sightings of her with Cox in Texas, Sarah Jane remained at large until late July.

About four weeks after her return, Mrs. Spencer "discovered that the daughter was in an interesting condition".

Oil of Tansy Found

Sarah Jane named Cox, who was there during the conversation, as the responsible party. Shortly after this conversation, Mrs. Spencer said, she discovered a bottle with a few drops of oil of tansy -- a popular abortifacient -- in it. When confronted, Cox reportedly admitted that he had bought it for Sarah Jane.

A Mother's Objection

Shortly after this confrontation, Cox reportedly came to the house indicating that he had two tickets to the Centellian, and he wanted to take Sarah Jane with him so that he could "take her to a doctor who would make things all right". Mrs. Spencer said that she objected to the plan. Sarah Jane did not go with Cox.

A Mysterious Parcel

On about Tuesday, October 17, Mrs. Spencer said, Cox came to the house with something rolled up in a small parcel. Mrs. Spencer said that she went outside to do chores for about 20 minutes, and that when she returned she found her daughter with a broom in her hands and a flushed face. She denied that Cox had said anything to offend her. She was taken sick that night, and the next night expelled her dead baby.

Condition Grave

Mrs. Spencer said she sent for Dr. Duncan, who could not come until the next Wednesday, October 25. Duncan said that Sarah Jane had not miscarried but had undergone an abortion caused by instruments of some sort, used with force. Mrs. Spencer was able to show the fetus to Duncan. It was about three and a half months old.

When Cox came to the house, Mrs. Spencer told him that he had killed her daughter. Cox pointed out that Sarah Jane wasn't dead, and said he expected her to survive her illness.

Dr. Duncan continued to provide care to Sarah Jane, at first expecting her to recover, but her condition deteriorated. He asked her repeatedly to tell him who had gotten her pregnant and who had injured her. She made a statement to him that was not admissible in court because she didn't then believe she was dying.

Deathbed Statements

On the evening of Friday, October 27, Sarah Jane called her brothers to her bedside, told them she was dying, and asked their forgiveness.

She then spoke again to Dr. Duncan, telling him that she knew she was dying. He asked her again who had injured her. Mrs. Spencer was there, telling Sarah Jane to tell Dr. Duncan who had done the deed, but shaking her head all the while as if to warn Sarah Jane not to speak. Sarah Jane told Dr. Duncan, "I did it." After her mother left the room, Duncan again asked Sarah Jane to name the guilty party.
Dr. Duncan: Who did it?
Sarah Jane: I did.
Dr. Duncan: But who helped you?
Sarah Jane: My God, I have done wrong.
Dr. Duncan: Tell me who helped you?
Sarah Jane: I did.
Dr. Duncan: You could not have done it alone. Who helped you?
Sarah Jane: He did it, with instruments.
Sarah Jane died the following morning.

Covering Up

On Sunday, Cox came to the house, crying and lamenting Sarah Jane's death. Mrs. Spencer said Cox told her to keep quiet about the death, since if she said anything about it she would get into trouble. He pointed out that she had no money, but he had money and would help the family and pay the doctor's bills.

Dr. Duncan corroborated that Cox promised to pay the $56 medical bill, although he quibbled about the price.

Andrew and William corroborated their mother's testimony about Sarah Jane's April disappearance, her return, seeing Cox at the house the night before Sarah Jane took ill, and his visiting twice during her illness. The boys also testified that they'd heard Cox say he'd help with the medical bills. They also testified to Sarah Jane's deathbed plea for their forgiveness.

Indictment, Trial, and Acquittal

Cox was indicted for murder in December, 1876. He fled to avoid prosecution. Eventually his attorney negotiated a deal for him to return for the trial but remain free on bail of $3,000. He was also able to negotiate a change of venue, so that the trial took place in Hancock County.

During the trial, several witnesses placed Cox at a distance from the farm on October 17 -- the day the abortion allegedly was performed.

Dr. Parks, another area physician, testified that Mrs. Spencer had showed him a catheter and a probe asking if they could be used to cause an abortion and lamenting that her daughter was pregnant. Parks told Mrs. Spencer that the instruments would not produce an abortion. Afterward, he testified, he saw the instruments in the possession of Dr. Springer. Springer said he'd bought them from Mrs. Spencer.

Another witness, Mrs. Arnez, stated that while she and Mrs. Spencer were in jail together, Mrs. Spencer had told her that Shep Cox had nothing to do with her daughter's death.

It took the jury a full day of sparring to come back with a verdict of not guilty.

Watch Who Killed Sarah Jane? on YouTube.


October 28, 1993: Lack of Monitoring Leave Haitian Immigrant Dead

On October 9, 1993, 25-year-old Haitian guest worker Giselene Lafontant underwent an abortion by Dr. Irwin Scher at his Gynecare in Monsey, New York. The abortion 9 or 10 week abortion was started at 10:59 AM and completed at 11:05.

Giseline was brought to the recovery room but no pulse oximeter was used to monitor her pulse and blood oxygen. Thirteen minutes later a nurse tried to awaken Giseline and found her unresponsive. Then her faint heartbeat stopped. 

The staff started resuscitation and were able to get Giseline's heart started again after about two minutes. She was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital and placed on a respirator. Efforts to save her life failed; Giselene died on October 28, leaving behind a two-year-old son. Her family took her body to her native Haiti for burial.

Watch the YouTube video.

Newly added sources:

Friday, October 27, 2023

October 27, 1991: Happy Birthday, Ana Rosa

Ana Rosa and her mother

How Ana Rosa Ridriguez wound up as front-page news, and featured on Phil Donohue, began on October 25, 1991 when Rosa Rodriguez, 20 years old, went to National Abortion Federation member Abu Hayat's Avenue A abortion practice on New York's lower East Side.

A single mother with a 2-year-old daughter, Rosa had found Hayat's practice, Women's Medical Clinic, by reading his ad in a Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario.

Hayat charged $1,500 for the procedure, for which Rosa produced $1,000 cash and her passport, green card, and her watch as collateral for the remaining $500. 

On this first visit, Hayat sedated Rosa, inserted laminaria to dilate her cervix, and gave her some sort of abdominal injection. When she awoke he sent her home, instructing her to return the following day.

Rosa returned as instructed at about 9 a.m., but she expressed misgivings about proceeding with the abortion, since she had felt fetal movement. She said that she had changed her mind. Hayat told her that it was too late to stop the abortion. Rosa said that two assistants held her down and clamped her feet into the stirrups while Hayat again sedated her. When she awoke, he told her that he had changed the laminaria, and again instructed her to return the following day. Hayat gave Rosa specific instructions that if she had any problems, she was to call his facility and no one else.

That night, Rosa was in pain, so she called as instructed. Hayat's assistant, who took the call, paged Hayat and then told Rosa that this was normal, that Hayat had said she "wasn't ready" for "further treatment".

Rosa called again when the pain would not abate. After several hours, she finally told her mother about the abortion. A family friend called an ambulance to take Rosa to Jamaica Hospital in Queens. There, at about 8 a.m. on October 27, Rosa gave birth to a 3 lb. 1 oz. baby girl of approximately 32 weeks of gestation. The little girl was healthy except for a traumatically amputated right arm. Doctors at the hospital performed a D&C, an abdominal X-ray, and an ultrasound on the young mother, trying to find the baby's arm. Evidently Hayat had removed it in the abortion attempt and disposed of it.
Nobody asks,
"What happened to
Baby Ana?"

 Somehow the story got out, and all hell broke loose.

The medical board took action, faulting Hayat with lack of informed consent,  failure to perform a complete examination,  having inadequate facility and staff, having medical records that were "not credible and are incomplete", and for performing an illegal third-trimester abortion. They revoked his license.

Hayat's receptionist, Marjorie Andrade, testified before the medical board that Hayat did any number of dubious things, including keeping a 6-month fetus in his freezer for two weeks in spite of the law requiring that fetuses be sent to a pathology lab. She testified that she never saw him sterilize any instrument, that he re-used them when they had dried blood on them. She also was interviewed on WNBC-TV, saying, "I've never seen any instruments sterilized. He used to rinse them out with water and soap."

More than thirty additional women stepped forward to complain that he had botched their abortions. Though he had been sued numerous times, none of the women had been able to collect because he did not have malpractice insurance and had declared bankruptcy.

While the circus was at its peak, National Right to Life seized onto the story in its attack on the newly-reborn late term abortion method they dubbed "Partial-Birth Abortion", even though Hayat had evidently been using an established variation of the more common Dilation and Evacuation procedure. And, interestingly, National Right to Life never took note of one particularly telling fact: Hayat was a dues-paying member in good standing of the prestigious National Abortion Federation.

Newspapers investigating "The Butcher of Avenue A" also learned from the medical board that the previous year Hayat had botched an abortion resulting in the death of 17-year-old Sophie McCoy.

Abu Hayat in court
Hayat was prosecuted for assault against both Rosa and her unborn daughter, as well as for other cases, and sentenced to a total of 29 years in prison. Hayat remained unrepentant, and told the judge who sentenced him, "I am in a very difficult situation. I know I am not guilty. .... I compare myself the best of any of the witnesses. I could teach them."

Rosa Rodriguez, noting the lack of success other patients had in seeking redress, didn't sue. "There really very little point," her attorney said.

It's hard for me to conjecture that Ana is thriving. The day before every birthday is the anniversary of the day that her arm was torn off during an attempt to kill her. And that attempt to kill her was something her mother had sought out and paid for.

Still, the human spirit is strong. Gianna Jessen, who has cerebral palsy as a result of a prenatal attempt on her life, is thriving and happy. Here's wishing the same to Ana Rodriguez. Wherever you are: Happy Birthday.

Sources include: "Butcher of Avenue A gets 29 Years," NY Daily News, January 15, 1993

October 27, 1972: The Second of Eighteen. That I Know Of.

 Sixteen-year-old Natalie Meyers was brought to San Vicente Hospital in Los Angeles by her mother for a safe and legal abortion on October 21, 1972. Milton Gotlib injected saline into Natalie's uterus on the 21st.

On October 22, Natalie expelled the dead baby but retained the placenta. She had trouble breathing and suffered abdominal pain, so San Vicente staff transferred Natalie to County-USC Medical Center at around 10:45 PM.

Natalie was in shock when she arrived at County-USC. She underwent a D&C there, but remained in shock from infection in her uterus. On October 26, a hysterectomy was performed to try to control the infection, to no avail. Natalie was pronounced dead at 9:35AM on October 27.

The autopsy found most of Natalie's internal organs swollen and hemorrhagic. Death was attributed to hyaline membrane disease brought on by the abortion.

Natalie is one of many women to die at one of Edward Allred's facilities. Others known to have died after abortion at Allred's facilities include: Denise Holmes in 1970, Patricia Chacon and Mary Pena in 1984, Josefina Garcia in 1985, Lanice Dorsey in 1986, Joyce Ortenzio and Tami Suematsu in 1988, Deanna Bell and Susan Levy in 1992, Christina Mora in 1994, Ta Tanisha Wesson in 1995, Nakia Jorden in 1998, Maria Leho in 1999, Kimberly Neil and Maria Rodriguez in 2000, Chanelle Bryant in 2004, and "Kyla Ellis" in 2014.

Watch Second of 18 on YouTube.

Newly added source: "Inquest Ordered in L.A. Abortion Death," Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1972

October 27, 1947: An Heiress Trusts the Wrong Men

 At 11 PM on October 17, 1947, Dr. Paul Singer, a Park Avenue gynecologist, called police and reported that a woman had come to his office suffering from an incomplete abortion. She reportedly had staggered in, "slumped over with her head down on her chest." Singer said she lapsed into a coma while he was beginning his examination.

He said that he had taken 22-year-old Jane Ward, heir to the Drake Bakeries fortune, to Park East Hospital, "almost pulseless -- lifeless -- she was almost dead." 

Dr. Oswald Glasberg, a plastic surgeon, had helped him to perform emergency surgery. Singer had to remove 1.5 quarts of blood and three parts of a 5-month fetus from Jane's abdomen and the body of Jane's ruptured uterus. Her bowel had also been injured, but Jane's condition was so fragile that Singer decided to close Jane up and hope for the best with transfusions and antibiotics.

Jane died on October 27, and the autopsy confirmed the cause of death as criminal abortion. What's more, Singer had left more fetal parts inside Jane's body.

After the death, Singer and Glasberg were arrested and released on bail. The baby's father, Eduardo Schneidewind, a trade promotion executive for a South American government, was questioned as a material witness but was never indicted. He said that he had arranged the abortion through Alejandro Ovalle, who was posing as a doctor, paying $2,000. Ovalle then gave Glasberg $900, and Glasberg gave $500 to Singer.

Ovalle was sentenced to one year after pleading guilty as an accessory, having profited from abortion referrals.

Singer's first trial ended in a mistrial when one juror fainted during testimony regarding Jane's injuries. A second trial ended with a hung jury. Singer and Glasberg were eventually convicted of manslaughter in Jane's death, and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. The judge, Francis L. Valente, said that Jane had been subjected to "surgical mayhem," and that Singer and Glasberg were "completely devoid of human feeling and decency."

Glasberg was never sentenced because six hours after the verdict on June 14, 1948, he committed suicide in his cell, having poisoned himself. Singer appealed his conviction, which was upheld.

As for Eduardo Schneidewind, not only was he not prosecuted, as far as I can determine he wasn't even deported.

During the 1940s, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality from abortion. The death toll fell from 1,407 in 1940, to 744 in 1945, to 263 in 1950. Most researches attribute this plunge to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

Watch the YouTube video covering how much additional information I've found this year.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

October 26, 1929: When Killing Your Patient was Still a Big Deal

Agnes Johnson

On a mid-October day, October 12, to be specific, 33-year-old homemaker Agnes Johnson went to the Chicago office of Dr. Joseph Stern for an abortion.

After leaving Stern's office at 435 West 19th Street, Agnes took ill. She died on October 26 at Jackson Park Hospital.

Had the year been 2022, Stern could have expected prolifers to take to the internet with pictures from Agnes's Facebook page and to pester the Illinois medical board to investigate the circumstances of Agnes' death. And unless the board found something Gosnellesque -- say, a high school student administering massive amounts of powerful drugs or rows of severed fetal feet in specimen containers or a room full of soiled recliners upon which women writhed and moaned while waiting for their abortions to be completed -- that would probably be the end of it. The board would declare that Stern had done no wrong and as long as Stern didn't Google his dead patient's name, he'd probably never have to give Agnes another thought.
The absolute worst case scenario for Stern had the year been 2019, 2009, or 1999 or 1989 or even 1979, would have been that Agnes' survivors would have sued him. Again, unless there was some Gosnellesque behavior, the insurance company would take care of all that and it would all blow over. Stern could go about his business unimpeded. 

But the year was 1929, and an abortion patient's death wasn't something that could be shrugged off as one of those things that just happen and only weirdo right-to-lifers could possibly get their knickers into a twist over. This was 1929, and a woman's abortion death was homicide. Stern was arrested that day, and on November 1, he was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury.

I've been unable to find out what repercussions there were for Stern beyond the indictment. One thing is safe to say, though: His life would have been a lot easier had abortion been legal.

Whether Agnes would have benefitted is another matter.


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

October 25, 1922: A Midwife's Fatal Work in Chicago

On October 25, 1922, 24-year-old homemaker Lillian Hulbert died at Chicago's St. Anne's Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed on her there that day. The coroner identified a Mrs. M.C. Anderson as responsible for Lillian's death. Anderson's profession is given as nurse or midwife.

Abortion rights groups will blame the deaths of women like Lillian on the legal status of abortion at the time. Seeking out a midwife, ad Lillian did, rather than a doctor, wasn't because of abortion's illegality but because women of that era often went to midwives rather than doctors for all of their obstetric and gynecological issues.

Graph showing abortion deaths in the US since 1940. The graph falls sharply from 1940 to 1950, levels off a bit in the 1050s, then resumes a downward trend unchanged by Roe vs. Wade, which is marked with a vertical line at 1073.Abortion-rights activists also forget that all surgery, including induced abortion, was riskier in the pre-legalization days. As the 20th century progressed, all maternal mortality, including abortion mortality, fell as medical care improved. Antibiotics and blood transfusions -- along with overall better health due to increasing prosperity -- deserve the credit for falling mortality, which was hardly caused retroactively by the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling striking down all the nation's abortion laws.

No doubt there was quackery prior to legalization -- but such quackery persists today. Removing the threat of jail for any but the most egregious behavior does not provide motivation to run a tight ship. Three erstwhile criminal abortionists that I know of -- Benjamin Munson, Milan Vuitch, and Jesse Ketchum -- didn't lose a single abortion patient until after legalization made them less fearful of repercussions and thus far more careless. Each went on to kill two legal abortion patients, not out of simple surgical complications, but due to appalling quackery.

It's time we got real about how little is different between illegal and legal abortion practice: the main difference is how much risk of being shut down or sent to prison the safe-and-legal abortionist faces.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

October 24, 1917: An Unknown Chicago Perpetrator

 On October 24, 1917, 24-year-old homemaker Stella Ahern died at her Chicago home from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good.

In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America. The fact that abortion-rights organizations claim credit for what others accomplished in public health and medical care speaks volumes about their character.

October 24, 1979: One Negative Pregnancy Test, Two Dead Teens

Today is the anniversary of the day schoolgirl Delores Jean Smith died a lingering death. She was the second of two teens to be fatally injured on June 2 of 1979, at National Abortion Federation member Atlanta Women's Pavilion in less than an hour. To add to the tragedy, Delores's mother found out that her daughter's pregnancy test performed at the clinic had been negative.

It all began when 19-year-old Angela Scott stopped breathing in the recovery room. Nurse-anesthetist Theresa Sterns was administering Brevital anesthesia to 15-year-old Delores while Dr. Jacob Adams was performing her abortion. Neither Sterns nor Adams was certified to administer this drug.

Sterns and Adams rushed off to assist in efforts to revive Angela, leaving Delores under the care of an untrained technician with her anesthesia drip still running. After staff had resuscitated Angela and loaded her into an ambulance, Sterns returned her attention to Delores, who had gone into cardio-respiratory arrest. 

Adams had accompanied Angela to the Grady Memorial Hospital, and staff at the clinic refused to release Dolores to an ambulance until the physician had returned to discharge her. This resulted in a 30-minute delay, during which the ambulance crew was unable to attend to Delores. 

Angela lingered for a week in a coma before dying on June 11. Delores never regained consciousness and eventually was admitted to a nursing home, where she died of adult respiratory distress syndrome on October 24, 1979.

Watch the YouTube video.

Newly added sources:

October 24, 1981: Rape, Abortion, and Death for Disabled Teen

Trusting your child to a National Abortion Federation clinic might not be as good an idea as you think. Problematic practices have plagued them since the beginning.

Nineteen-year-old Dianne Boyd, who had the mental capacity of a 14-month-old child, lived in a state institution for the mentally disabled. Though she was on an all-female ward, she was beaten and raped in July of 1981, and was later discovered to be pregnant, though officials were unable to determine if the rape had taken place inside the facility or while Dianne was on one of her many outings. The perpetrator was never identified.

When she was four months pregnant, a safe, legal abortion was arranged for Diane by her mother, with court approval, at National Abortion Federation member Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis.

Diane's mother signed a consent form. The abortion was performed October 22, 1981. Diane went into a coma and was declared dead after being removed from life support the on the 24th. 

According to suits later filed by Diane's mother, RHS staff and abortionist Robert Crist did not check for possible drug interactions before giving Diane valium and sublimaze. These drugs evidently reacted with Diane's usual medication, thorazine, causing her to stop breathing. Diane's mother said that the clinic lacked heart monitoring equipment or resuscitation equipment.

Diane was not the last woman to die after abortion by Crist. Seventeen-year-old Latatchie Veal bled to death after an abortion by Crist in 1991. Twenty-two-year-old Nichole Williams died of DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulopathy) after an abortion by Crist in 1997.

Fourteen-year-old Sandra Kaiser committed suicide after a 1984 abortion at RHS, performed without her mother's knowledge or consent.

Watch the YouTube video.

Newly added source: "Report gives little detail on events behind death of retarded woman," Kansas City Star, November 10, 1981

Monday, October 23, 2023

October 23, 1913: Why Did the Midwife Confess?

 Emma Bickel, a 59-year-old St. Louis midwife, was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 19-year-old Emily Nohavec of St. Louis. Bickel had been a midwife for 28 years, and had a reputation for "uprightness" and honesty.

Emily, age 19, was single, and had been living with her sister in St. Louis, where she worked as a clerk in her sister‘s vegetable store. On October 18, 1913, she first reported feeling ill. On Monday, October 20, a Dr. Reber was summoned to see her. He diagnosed her with septic peritonitis. The next day, her condition was critical and she was admitted to Rebekah Hospital. There, Dr. Garcia was called in for consultation. Drs. Reber and Garcia agreed that an immediate laparotomy was needed to try to save Emily‘s life.

The doctors found Emily‘s abdominal cavity inflamed. A cyst about the size of a pear surrounded her left ovary, her right ovary was surrounded by pus, and there was pus in her fallopian tubes. The doctors removed these purulent organs and inserted drainage tubes.

Dr. Reber also curetted Emily‘s uterus and packed it with iodoform gauze. Emily‘s uterus noted an ulceration about the size of a hazelnut inside the cervix. The edges of this ulceration were ragged and torn, and Reber concluded that this was caused by instrumentation. Reber also believed that swelling near where the fallopian tube entered the uterus was caused by instrumentation. Reber believed that an abortion had been performed a week to ten days before he was first called to examine Emily.

Dr. Garcia, on the other hand, agreed that Emily had recently been pregnant, and that the pregnancy had ended at about two months, but noted "there were no direct punctures or cuts, scratches, or anything of that kind in the uterus, or in the abdomen." He agreed with Dr. Reber that the sepsis was caused by an abortion, but he disagreed about the abortion having been induced. Dr. Garcia concluded that Emily might merely have miscarried.

Despite the efforts of both doctors, Emily died the following day, October 23.

That same day, Dr. Hockdoerfer performed an autopsy. He made the same findings as Drs. Garcia and Reber, except that he also found a section of placental implantation about the size of a quarter. He agreed that retained placental tissue had caused the sepsis, but did not find any signs of damage from instruments. Emily had been in good health prior to her final, fatal illness.

While Emily was hospitalized, police officer William H. Coates arrested St. Louis midwife Emma Bickel and brought her to Emily‘s bedside. Coates testified that he asked Bickel if she knew the girl, and Bickel said yes, she did know her. Coates testified that he then said, "You performed an abortion on  her, didn‘t you?" To which, he testified, Bickel replied, "Yes."

Coates took Bickel to the police station where she made a statement. Coates wrote out the statement as follows:

Department of Police, City of St. Louis.
7:16 P. M., Oct. 22, 1913.

To whom it may concern I herein state that on or about October 13th, 1913, Emily Nohavec came to my house in the evening and said she was in trouble and wanted me to help her out. I told her it was dangerous for to do a thing like that, and she said, ‘You need not be afraid,‘ that ‘I won't tell on you.‘ I then inserted a catheter into the private parts and opened her womb. She then paid me about five or seven dollars; I don‘t remember which. She came back in two days, and I again put the catheter into the womb. She left, and I never saw her until I saw her this evening at the hospital.

The above statement was made of my own free will, and not by any threats or promises or violence to me.

[Signed] Emma Bickel.
Witnesses: Off. W. H. Coates; Off. David J. O‘Connor.

When called upon to testify in court, however, Bickel denied having performed an abortion on Emily. She said that she never knew Emily until the girl came to her house, saying that she was "in trouble." Bickel said that she asked Emily, "How far along?" To which Emily replied that her period was two weeks late. Bickel said that Emily told her that she was married, and that she had taken some medicine to cause an abortion, and had also taken a box of pills. Bickel said that she told Emily, "Well, if you are only two weeks gone they ought to bring you by your next monthlies." Bickel said that she then sent Emily away.

Bickel said that about two weeks later Emily, who had still not given her name, returned, saying that she was ill, and willing to pay $7 for an examination. Bickel said that she used a speculum to examine Emily, and found her cervix open and exuding a foul discharge. Bickel testified that she told Emily to consult a doctor. She said that this took place about two weeks prior to Emily‘s death, and that she‘d not seen the girl between the examination and being brought to the hospital by Officer Coates.

Bickel testified that she had confirmed that she knew Emily, and that the girl had come to her house, but that Coates did not ask her at the hospital if she had performed an abortion. She said that she was taken to the police station, that Coates had written out the statement and told her to sign it, so she‘d complied.

Bickel said that she‘d never told Coates that she‘d inserted a catheter, that she‘d tried to discourage abortion, telling Emily "that it was a dangerous thing to do a thing like that." She said that she‘d only signed the statement because she was excited and confused and was merely doing what she was told.

Despite her protestations of innocence, Bickel was convicted of second degree manslaughter. She was sentenced to three years in prison. She unsuccessfully appealed her conviction and was paroled in June of 1915.

View the video on YouTube: The Midwife's Confession

Newly added sources:

October 23, 1920: Doctor Gets Away With Abortion Murders

Summary: Nineteen-year-old Francis Karies was one of five deaths attributed to Dr. Charles Waldstein Millikin in Akron, Ohio.


Dr. C. W. Millikin

Charles Waldstein Millikin was a trained, licensed physician and very highly respected in his community. It's important to grasp this as we look at what he did with his training and license over a six-month period from October of 1920 through March of 1921.

The sixth son of Thomas and Tamar (Clark) Milliken, C.W. was born April 17, 1856 in Johnston, Trumbull County, Ohio. Milliken was an 1880 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He was licensed as an allopath in Ohio in 1896 after having served a residency at Harrisburg Hospital and Philadelphia Hospital in Pennsylvania. 

Millikin moved to Akron, Ohio in 1882.

In 1887, Milliken served as secretary of the 64th quarterly meeting of the Northeastern Ohio Medical Association. 

Things started going wrong when Milliken was around 64 years old, nearing retirement age.

He should have retired.

September and October, 1920 

Around September 23, 1920, Milliken performed a criminal abortion on 19-year-old Francis Karies (also sometimes spelled Kerris) underwent an abortion at his Akron practice. 

I've been unable to determine anything about Francis's whereabouts or condition in the following weeks. However, Millikin was keeping busy. He performed an abortion on Maud Sporn, alias Spohr, on October 2. She died in Akron on October 12

Though Francis had undergone her abortion in Akron, she died at Chicago's Swedish Covenant Hospital on October 23. The coroner recommended Milliken's arrest, but there is no record if any legal action was taken against him for Francis's death until, sadly, too much later. In fact, as far as I know, no authorities outside of Chicago seemed to take notice.

February Through March, 1921

No ill seems to have befallen any other women at Milliken's hands in November or December. Even January of 1921 got off to a good start. But things started going wrong in Millikin's practice in February.

Iva Jean Tripplett, nee Isner, 28, wife of Artie George Tripplett, 317 Bowery St. Akron. Millikin was 65 in 1921

Funeral services at Billows' mortuary chapel interrupted on afternoon of October 10. Family had been planning to transport Ida's body to West Virginia for burial.

Coroner Kent performed post-mortem.

Millikin filed death certificate indicating acute tuberculosis. Health department issued burial certificate. Coroner found Ida's lungs in perfect condition but found evidence of septicemia. Removed organs and preserved them for prosecution.

Artie said he hadn't know about the abortion until Ida took ill and told him. Four young children. "Doyle stated tat the death of Mrs. Tripplett makes four in seven days all from the same causes, and each of them charged against Dr. Millikin.

Milliken was free on March 1 or 2, 1921 when he performed an abortion on Iva J. Triplett at his home office at 365 E. Market St. in Akron. Immediately after the abortion, Ida took ill. Millikin attended to her until her death from septicemia and peritonitis at 7:00 on the morning of March 9, leaving behind a husband and children. That was the third death in a week reported to Doyle.

Florence Cobb

As Ida lay dying under Milliken's care, he performed another criminal abortion which resulted in the March 6 death of 22-year-old telegraph operator Florence Heath Cobb, wife of Thomas Cobb of Kenmore, who worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber. Died at Akron Hospital at 1:00 the afternoon of Sunday, March 6, 1921. Florence and Thomas had married only on the 22nd of the previous June. Her family brought her body to her home town of Salt Lake City for burial. Millikin arrested on the 5th while Florence was still alive, a few hours after the illness was reported to Doyle. Assistant prosecutors Scheck and Wanamaker visited Florence Cobb at City hospital on Saturday the 5th. She made a dying declaration saying Milliken had performed the fatal abortion. Her husband agreed. An autopsy showed that Florence had died as the result of an abortion. Florence, a graduate of the LDS University in Salt Lake City, had been a swimming instructor at Desert Gymnasium before moving to Akron, where she married Thomas Cobb on June 22, 1920.

"Doyle stated that when the first reports came to him he was loathe to place any credence on them inasmuch as the physician is reputed to be one off the best in Summit county and one, through his long residence and wide practice here has earned the reputation of being a man of high ideals." Had to order bodies exhumed.

"The physician who has practiced for 40 years or more in Akron and is well known to most of the older residents of the city and vicinity was arrested Saturday night when Doyle had been informed of the serious condition of Mrs. Cobb, and he was released on bond furnished by himself and A. G. Miller." Doyle wanted to await the April grand jury to present the four deaths.

On March 15, 1921, five more indictments were handed to the judge by the grand jury, for a total of seven at that point, some for the abortions, some for falsification of documents to cover up the abortions.

Louise Marie Vogt, 19, died of peritonitis on March 5, 1921 after an abortion perpetrated on February 26.

And what became of the illustrious Dr. C. W. Millikin after all of these deaths? He pleaded guilty for the death of Louise Marie Vogt in exchange for a suspended sentence, dismissal of the indictments for the four other deaths, and revocation of his medical license. Three judges, Anderson, C. P. Kennedy, and F. J. Rockwell pushed for clemency on the grounds that Millikin was old, a first-time offender, and an all-around great guy.

Judge Anderson further stated, "Courts have made the practice of late years of giving young first offenders that benefit of a parole, and we feel that this is a case where the court can do likewise. It is extremely hard at his age for this defendant to be in such trouble as he now finds himself in. This young woman was in trouble. He had treated the members of her family for 30 years, and when she came to him begging him to assist her he did so in order to protect her good name and that of the family. He is not really guilty, although technically he is. I have known him for a great many years, and have never known him to do an unkind act. The appeal of the woman in distress affected him, and he was justified, morally, in doing what he did. Although the publicity given him has caused the loss of his good name, he will always enjoy the confidence of his friends."

Judge Ahern chimed in, "Dr. Millikin has admitted his guilt, however, but on account of his past record and his many manifestations of public spiritedness the court feels that he is entitled to a suspended sentence."

Prosecutor Doyle merely commented that legally the judges had the authority to turn Millikin loose. His rather tight-lipped comments to reporters tend to indicate that he did not take kindly to the leniency granted to a man who had cost five young women their lives.

Milliken remained in Akron until his death from cerebral hemorrhage and chronic myocarditis on April 13, 1929. "Last Rites For Dr. Millikin To Be Held Tuesday," announced the April 15, 1929 Akron Beacon Journal. The notice sang his praises as a political and social figure. "Dr. Millikin's Death," published in another edition that same day, praised him to the skies: "In the death of Dr. C. W. Millikin this community loses another fine type of the old-time physician whose fifty years of service here spanned the interesting transit of Akron from village to city class. .... He was chief of staff of the City Hospital in 1915. He was a lover of nature and a member of the National Audubon society and the National Society of Natural Research Next to his professional work and his devotion to his friends, public service held his chief interest. This was expressed through his association with the Democratic party, of whose local organization he was often chairman. He sought no preferment for himself. Having no children of his own he sent many a student to and through college. He was a lover of children and of young people. One so kindly and gentle in character will be deeply missed in the circles where he was best known and highly regarded."

He likely was not so nearly highly regarded by the loved ones of Iva Triplet, Maud Sporn, Louise Marie Vogt, Florence Cobb, and Francis Karris. 


Sunday, October 22, 2023

October 22, 1914: Second of Three Deaths by Dr. F. Waldo Whitney

 Margaret Buetelman died in New York's St. Vincent's hospital on October 22, 1914. She had been admitted suffering complications of an illegal abortion perpetrated on the 20th in the office of Dr. F. Waldo Whitney. Whitney, age 61, was convicted of manslaughter in her death. He was sentenced to 2 to 19 1/2 years at Sing Sing.

Whitney had already been implicated in the 1913 abortion death of Annie Brassler.

While he was in prison, Whitney was sued by Margaret's husband, John, on behalf of himself and the couple's two children.

Whitney was pardoned in 1918 and regained his medical license only to perform another fatal abortion for which he was sent to prison in 1923. I've been unable to determine the woman's name. He was released from prison again in 1926 and died from a broken leg in 1927.


Friday, October 20, 2023

October 20, 1971: Emboldened Quack Kills Second Woman in Six Months

 Carole Schaner was 37 years old when she traveled from Ohio to Buffalo, New York, for a safe and legal abortion. to be performed by Dr, Jesse Ketchum. She had been referred by a local abortion advocacy organization, West Shore Center. Carole was divorced and caring for her four children.

Black and white headshot of a middle-aged white man with brushed-back dark hair
Dr. Jesse Ketchum
Ketchum was a former criminal abortionist from Ypsilanti, Michigan who had relocated to New York specifically to open an abortion practice. He had allowed another abortion patient, Margaret Smith, to bleed to death in his office from a hysterotomy abortion just four months earlier. A hysterotomy was like a C-section, but with the intention of allowing the fetus to die of prematurity.

Ketchum performed a vaginal hysterotomy on Carole on October 20, 1971. She was 14 weeks pregnant.

After the abortion, Carole went into shock, and was taken to a hospital. She was in shock when she arrived. Despite all efforts, Carole died before doctors could even fully assess the extent of her injuries. She left behind four children.

The autopsy found that Carole's cervix and uterus had been cut open, and an artery outside her uterus had been cut. It also noted sutures that had evidently been put in by Ketchum in an attempt to repair the damage. The sutures, however, completely closed Carole's cervix, allowing her to continue bleeding from the injured uterus and artery.

Carole was the second woman to bleed to death after an outpatient hysterotomy abortion performed by Ketchum; Margaret Smith had died four months earlier.

Another former criminal abortionist, Milan Vuitch, also had kept his nose clean as a criminal abortionist, then went on to kill two legal abortion patients. Wilma Harris and Georgianna English both died under Vuitch's care. Benjamin Munson, likewise, had a clean record in his criminal abortionist then went on to kill two women in his supposedly safer legal practice -- Linda Padfield and Yvonne Mesteth.

October 20, 1921: Who Killed Annie Sczepkowski?

 On October 20, 1921, 30-year-old Annie Sczepkowski died at Jefferson Park Hospital in Chicago from complications of an abortion perpetrated by an unknown suspect. Tillie Pawlowski was arrested, but exonerated by the Coroner.

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.

During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. These improvements happened long before legalization, and credit for them is due to those who improved both public health and medical practice, not to those who came along afterward and laud themselves for what others have done. 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

October 19, 1990: One of Hachamovitch's Many Dead Patients

Nineteen-year-old Christina Goesswein ("Patient A" in medical board documents) was almost 23 weeks pregnant when she went to the office of Dr. Moshe Hachamovitch on October 17, 1990. The first part of the three-day abortion procedure was started that day. She was sent home and told to return the following day to have her cervix dilated even further for the abortion, which would take place on the 19th.

She came back on the 18th and had more laminaria inserted then returned home. That evening, her boyfriend called the doctor's office because Christina was having cramping. He was told to give her pain medicine. Christina's boyfriend called again several hours later because he felt that she was running a fever, but Christina told Dr. Hachamovitch's employee who was taking call that evening that she was okay.

Early in the morning of the 19th, the boyfriend called the employee again because Christina was experiencing heavy bleeding, cramping and vomiting. Christina stated that she felt that she was in labor. The employee instructed Christina to go to Hachamovitch's office where she and the doctor would meet her.

They all met at the office some time between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. After arriving at there, Christina lost control of her bowels. Hachamovitch then delivered her 24-week fetus in one piece.

Because Christina was not recovering as she should have, Dr. Hachamovitch decided to admit her to an area hospital, but before this could be done, Christina quit breathing and her heart stopped. Somebody called 911 at about 4:20 a.m., and Dr. Hachamovitch began CPR. Christina was taken to a Bronx hospital where she was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m. on October 19, due to an amniotic fluid embolism.

Hachamovitch's license was suspended over his false documentation regarding administration of oxygen, and the Christina's blood loss. The medical board also found a plethora of faults in Hachamovitch's treatment of his patient, including:
  • His record-keeping was dangerously inadequate.
  • He failed to ensure that Christina got immediate medical care when she was displaying life-threatening complications, instead arranging for her to travel and meet him at his practice.
  • He continued with an abortion in an outpatient setting even after observing for himself how dangerous Christina's condition was.
  • He didn't have any qualified staff assisting with the risky task of anesthetizing his patient.
  • He failed to promptly notice that Christina had sopped breathing and failed to resuscitate her properly.
Christina wasn't the only patient to lose her life due to Hachamovitch's unwillingness or inability to manage his practice. Two other patients, Tanya Williamson in 1996 and Luz Rodriguez in 1986, had died of malpractice under his care. Three patients died after abortions in clinics he owned and managed elsewhere -- Lisa Bardsley and Lou Ann Herron in Arizona and Jammie Garcia in Texas.

Sources: New York State Board For Professional Medical Conduct No. 93-127; State Board of New York Statement of Charges September 16, 1992; "History of trouble at clinics," Arizona Republic, January 17, 1999; United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Docket No. 97-9065; "Clinic head faces complaints," Arizona Republic July 15, 1998; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit - 159 F.3d 687 (1998)

October 19, 1954: A Naturopath in Texas

Sylvia Redman
Dr. Sylvia Redman (pictured), a 57-year-old woman who had a license to practice naturopathy in Texas, signed a written confession on October 20, 1954 regarding the death of 27-year-old homemaker Betty Jean Ledel the previous day. 

Redman' confession said that Betty came to her Fort Worth practice, Nature Foods & Clinic at 2836 Hemphill on October 8, saying that she thought she was pregnant. Betty asked her "if I could help her get rid of the baby. I told her the danger of everything and she said she was not afraid. I told her I would rather her to go somewhere else and have the baby stopped in twenty four hours, because my work is slow. I do it by shooting a little air up into the womb. (uterus) By going through the cervix into the uterus, where the embryo is carried. She told me she wanted me to do it." Redman complied, repeating the process daily. 

On October 19, Betty again went to Redman. Her husband and one of their two young children waited outside in the car. Redman took Betty upstairs, "laid her on a table used for females," and inserted a canula into Betty's uterus. She pushed five syringes full of air into Betty's uterus and asked Betty if she could feel it. Betty said that she could, a little. "And she looked up at me and said I feel choky, and then she passed out." Redman also noticed that Betty was bleeding vaginally.

Redman said, "I used artificial respiration. I picked her up in my arms and laid her on the floor. And I slung water at her to try to revive her, and then I had a lady downstairs to call an ambulance. The ambulance came and got her and took her to Harris Hospital where Betty was pronounced dead on arrival, leaving 7-year-old David and 2-year-old Cathy without a mother.

Redman threw away the instruments but police quickly found them and got a confession. An autopsy verified that Betty had indeed been pregnant, and blamed her death on the introduction of air into her uterus to produce abortion. The six or seven week old embryo was intact and undamaged. Betty's blood vessels had air in them, and one of her lungs had collapsed. The examiner concluded that she had died from an air embolism.

Redman seemed to have a mixed reputation in the area. She was charged with practicing medicine without a license in October of 1945, but by 1947 was in good standing, with the newspaper reporting that she had returned after a study of endo-nasal and aural therapy at Philadelphia College of Neuropathy and Naturopathy. 

Redman's jury deliberated slightly under two and a half hours before finding her guilty of murder by abortion. She was sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary for four years, a far cry from the death penalty she could potentially have faced. Her appeal was denied and she was paroled in May of 1957.