Wednesday, October 18, 2023

October 18, 1939: Doctor Sentenced to Sing-Sing

On October 18, 1939, Miss Alice Corbett, age 28, of Brooklyn, New York, died at Murray Hill Hospital in Manhattan. The young telephone operator's death was attributed to "acute gangrenous and suppurative endometritis," that was "diffuse" and "generalized" and caused by a uterine perforation during an illegal abortion. 

An investigation determined that 48-year-old Dr. Allen F. Murphy had perpetrated the fatal abortion at his office at 159 West 87th Street in Queens. Murphy was sentenced to 2-10 years in Sing-Sing for Alice's death. 

I can't find prison records for Murphy, so it's possible that he got his conviction overturned.

According to census records, Murphy was born in Ohio in 1893, son of Benjamin and Lillie Murphy. He remained in Cincinnati, Ohio, until at least 1920. He lived in rural Kentucky through most of the 1930s. After relocating to New York, Murphy worked as a physician for a steamboat company. He died at the age of 70 in Columbus, Ohio on January 17, 1963.

Alice's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.


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