Friday, October 27, 2023

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.

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