Monday, October 16, 2023

October 16, 1954: The Second Victim of Dr. James Unosawa in Seattle

 Martha Alit, a 40-year-old mother of nine, underwent an abortion on October 16, 1954 at the Seattle office of 64-year-old Dr. James Unosawa. She died on the scene.

Rather than report the death, Unosawa recorded Martha's death as due to natural causes and sent her body to a funeral establishment without notifying the coroner.

Born and wed in Juneau, Alaska, Martha had lived in Seattle for twenty years with her Filipino husband, Felicisimo. 

Felicisimo was away on Coast Guard duty when his wife sought the services of Unosawa, an osteopath known to perform abortions.  

Unosawa was charged with manslaughter, abortion, and unlawful removal of a human body, then released on $5,000 bail.

Unosawa had served time in prison after an earlier fatal abortion in 1946. He was convicted again of manslaughter in Martha's death, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision two years later, holding that the prosecution had not disproved his claim that he was trying to save her life. He would be arrested for a third time in 1963, after another patient required emergency hospitalization. Convicted, he was granted probation after agreeing to stop practicing medicine. 

Unosawa's previous victim was identified as Beulah LeClair, who had died in 1946.

HT: "When Abortion was Illegal (and Deadly)," Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project

Watch Abortion Conviction Overturned on YouTube.


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