Wednesday, May 29, 2024

May 29, 1988: The "Texas Gosnell" Lets Teen Die

Denise Montoya was fifteen years old when her parents brought her to Women's Pavillion in Houston for an abortion on May 13, 1988. Denise was 25 1/2 weeks pregnant.

The abortion was performed by Douglas Karpen, an osteopath.

Denise suffered severe bleeding, and was admitted to Ben Taub hospital. Her condition deteriorated, and she died on May 29, 1988.

Her parents filed suit against Karpen and the clinic, saying that they had failed to adequately explain the risks of the procedure, and had not provided consent forms, or had the parents sign any informed consent document, prior to the fatal abortion. They asserted that had they known how dangerous abortion is that late in the pregnancy they never would have subjected their daughter to the procedure.

According to their 1991 Annual Report, Women's Pavillion was a National Abortion Federation member. 

Karpen was also sued over the March 14, 1989 death of Glenda Davis.

Karpen has been dubbed "the Texas Gosnell" by prolife activists after his employees came forward to report appalling behavior including delivering babies alive then killing them.

Watch "Not Warned of Risks Before Late Abortion" on YouTube.


Sources: Harris County District Court Case No. 89-16747

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

May 28, 1985: High-Volume Abortion Mill Screws Up Fatally

Documents indicate that Josefina Garcia, age 37, mother of 2, died after abortion at a Family Planning Associates Medical Group (FPA) facility. Josefina's survivors filed suit against FPA owner Edward Campbell Allred, and 5 other doctors: Kenneth Wright, Leslie S. Orleans, Earl Baxter, Soon Sohn, and Thomas Grubbs. 

The family said that staff failed to determine that Josefina had an ectopic pregnancy before proceeding with a routine safe and legal abortion procedure by D&C on May 28, 1985. 

After her abortion, Josefina was left unattended in a recovery room, where she hemorrhaged. She died the day of her abortion. 

Regardless of whether or not abortion is legal, an ectopic pregnancy is something any abortionist should have diagnosed, if not before the abortion, then certainly after the abortion was completed and there were not pieces of fetus removed. Either way, there was little excuse for failing to detect the ectopic pregnancy. Whether Josefina lived or died would have depended on the state of medicine at the time, and the ordinary skills of doctors who were not abortionists.

Josefina was one of 17 women that I know of who lost their lives at FPA abortion facilities. The others are:


Monday, May 27, 2024

May 27, 1952: Hollywood Socialite's Body Dumped in Alley

 In the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 27, 1952, mechanic Bert Darnell made a grisly find as he walked to work. Between two wooden garages in a Los Angeles alley, in disarray, lay the body of a beautiful young woman. She was clad in stylish, expensive clothing: a red coat, a red cashmere sweater, a silver gray skirt, and black leather shoes. The only garments missing were her stockings and one of her white gloves. 

There were no bruises or other injuries to indicate that she'd been assaulted, engaged in a struggle, or been thrown from a passing car.

Mr. Darnell promptly called the police. About 60 feet away, near a telephone pole, they found a transparent plastic purse containing makeup, accessories, and car keys with a device with an address and a name: Patricia Layne Steele.

Patricia Layne Steele
Victor Cefalu, who performed the autopsy, said that she'd died from either hemorrhage or infection at about 2:00 that morning, caused by an abortion that had taken place 24 to 48 hours before her death. Because it had been performed with such skill, investigators believed that a nurse must have assisted whatever doctor had perpetrated the surgery. Patricia's body had several needle marks including one to the chest that indicated an injection of adrenaline into her heart. 

The time of the abortion was estimated after police spoke to one of Patricia's friends, who said that Patricia had confided to her that she had arranged an abortion for Monday afternoon. 

Patricia's parents, financier Victor Steele and Jane Arnett, were divorced. Her father provided her with an $800/month stipend (over $8,700 in 2022 dollars). Police searched her home, an upscale apartment, looking for clues. It was immaculate. The kitchen cupboards were full of high-quality and expensive foods, including caviar. She had a bar plentifully stocked with wines and liquors. The expensive convertible that she used even for short trips was still in her garage.

Victor refused to view his daughter's body in the morgue, but did identify her belongings. He said that he believed that Patricia had eloped to Tijuana with an unidentified serviceman in a blue uniform the previous November. She had made trip to Hawaii shortly thereafter Victor believed that the trip had been a belated honeymoon. 

Police were unable to find any record of a marriage in Tijuana with Patricia's name.

Victor told investigators that Patricia had been fretting about gaining weight in spite of dieting. She reported morning sickness but, Victor said, had laughed off a comment he'd made about pregnancy. Not convinced, Victor went to a library to check out a book about pregnancy.

Patricia's mother traveled from her home in Reno to Los Angeles, where she collapsed sobbing in the morgue after identifying her daughter's body. "Is that my baby?" she cried out. "It can't be! What have they done to her? She was a wonderful, good girl!"

Jane told investigators that Patricia had phoned her the previous Sunday to tell her that she had married "the nicest serviceman" while vacationing in Hawaii. (The name of the serviceman in question was never revealed in news coverage.)

Jane said that Patricia had been told by doctors that "her health was poor and she would experience considerable difficulty in bearing a child and might die as a result." Victor also said that Patricia had seen a doctor about eight years before her death and had been told that she should never have children because childbirth might kill her. Had this been true, Patricia need not have sought out a criminal abortionist, since even before California law was loosened in 1967 doctors would perform abortions for "life of the mother" indications, as had been the case with the fatal abortion performed on Erica Peterson in 1961.

When he went through Patricia's possessions, Victor noticed that a ring -- a 12-carat emerald surrounded by 33 baguette diamonds in a platinum setting -- was missing. It was later traced to a Beverly Hills loan business where Patricia had used the the $10,000 ring (worth over $1 million in 2022 dollars) as collateral for a $250 loan (around $2,700 in 2020 dollars). Victor theorized that Patricia had pawned the ring to pay for the abortion because he kept a close eye on her money and would have noticed if she had withdrawn the money from her bank account.

Police went through Patricia's phone records in their search for anybody who would know about Patricia's last days. Patricia's physician, Dr. Louis J. Klingbell, reportedly told the police that Patricia had been to consult with him the Wednesday before her death. She was four months into her pregnancy and had told him, "I'm going to do something about it." Victor later said, "Dr. Klingbell told me he argued with my daughter for an hour when she said she was going to get rid of the child because she was afraid to go through with it."

On Saturday Patricia had attended an engagement party accompanied by a man called either "Ed" or Ned." 

On Sunday she had gone to church, then visited with friends. She had seemed in good spirits and spoke about the party. That night she and her father enjoyed dinner and a show. She had dropped Victor off at his home at around 11:00 pm. When she got home, she called her telephone exchange to get her messages and to ask for a 7:00 am wake-up call.

She placed a phone call to a woman at around 8:30 on Monday morning. At 10:00 that morning, she called the phone exchange to say she'd be calling in for her messages at around 2:00. At around 1:00, one of Patricia's friends saw her at a beauty parlor.

Patricia never made the 2:00 call for her messages.

Patricia had taken time away from her friends and enlisted in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve in May of 1944 after the death of her fiancĂ©e, Lt. Benjamin Preston, in the Marshalls invasion. 

Patricia's parents, no doubt wearied of all the publicity their daughter's death was attracting, insisted on keeping her funeral services not merely private but secret as well. 

Police said that they believed they had identified the doctor who had perpetrated the abortion, but pending sufficient evidence to prosecute they declined to release his name. "He's no stranger to us," Detective Sargent William Cummings told the Citizen News. "He's been operating in this area for some time." Police had been directed to the doctor in question by a friend Patricia had known since high school.

After a promise that an arrest was pending, all mention by the police about the fatal abortionist disappeared from news coverage until November of 1944. Then, police announced that a Los Angeles osteopath, Dr. Frank S. Bunker, was being investigated for four abortion deaths and a kidnapping charge. Only two of the four women, Patricia and Jessie Neidt, were named in news coverage.

I can find evidence that Bunker was convicted on an abortion charge relating to a teenage girl who survived, but nothing indicating that he was ever prosecuted for any of the deaths.


Sources:


Sunday, May 26, 2024

May 26, 1950: Lay Abortionist Blames Death on Phlegm

Joy Malee Joy, 25 years of age, was an employee of Pratt Union in Cunningham, Kansas. She lived with her mother, Inez, identified in news coverage as Mrs. Roy G. Lewis, and her 6-year-old daughter, Vicky Joy. Joy was a former resident of Hutchinson and Medora, and had graduated from Buhler HS in 1942. She had divorced Vicky's father five years earlier

On May 26, 1950, ambulance driver Phil Johnson of got a call of a sick woman at the home of Annas Whitlow Brown.  Brown had lived 25 years in Hutchinson, and was the mother of two grown daughters.

When Johnson arrived, he was directed through Brown's garage to the basement, where he found a woman lying on a bed on the large bedroom. She appeared to be dead. The bedspread was stained. The woman was Joy Malee Joy. Johnson transported her to Grace Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

An inquest into Joy's death was held at Johnson and Sons Funeral Home.

Deputy Sheriff Gene Schroder and Captain John Robinson said that they went to Brown's home at around 9:00 pm. Brown showed them a first floor bedroom and said that this was where Joy had lay down. The police said they told her they knew better, whereupon Brown led them to the basement. They found two bedspreads, still damp, hanging in the utility room. 

They said that Brown told them that Joy had suffered a coughing spell so she'd given the young woman a peppermint and a glass of water.

In Joy's purse police found a business card for Annas Whitlow Brown and her phone number. On the back, in pencil, was nurse Margaret Dowdy's name, address, and phone number. 

Pathologist Dr. L. C. Murphy performed an autopsy, along with coroner Dr. G. A. Chickering. Murphy testified that "there were two findings. First the examination showed a five months pregnancy. Second there was evidence of instrumentation. There was evidence of an attempt at an abortion." This included tearing of the placenta and uterine bleeding. He believed that Joy had died from either blood loss or asphyxiation. At the time of her death Joy had been suffering from a cold which could have been a contributing factor. "An acute cold, coughing ... could have resulted in death if weakened by anesthetic or loss of blood."

Murphy said that the abortion had only been initiated, not completed. The attempt, however, had triggered heavy bleeding. "There was no way to tell how much loss of blood was suffered." Murphy could not decide if death had been caused by choking on mucus and vomit or by blood loss. Dr. Chickering added that in his opinion, "death was caused by an operation or the circumstances surrounding it."

A man named Frank Annett, from Pratt, testified that he knew Joy, who had approached him about a month earlier and "intimated she was pregnant." She had not, he testified, said anything about an abortion. About a week later, he testified, Joy had come to him wanting to borrow money.

Joy's mother wept when recalling that Joy had called her on Friday, saying that she was going to a shower for a friend and would be getting home late. She said that she hadn't known that her daughter was pregnant. Joy had been suffering a severe cold but was feeling better on Friday.

Nurse Dowdy, who had practiced for 35 years, testified that she had taken care of patients in her home for Brown. When asked if she knew the victim, Dowdy replied, "I never heard of Joy Malee Joy." She said that when Brown referred patients to her, she identified them from their home towns. Thus Joy Joy was "the girl from Pratt." Dowdy said that she'd also been told that "the girl from Pratt" had a daughter living in Cunningham with her grandmother. Dowdy said that Brown had contacted her about two weeks earlier, then was called on May 26 and told that "the girl from Pratt" would be coming to stay with her for a few days. "She called again in a few minutes, about 15 minutes, and said the girl was sick and had turned blue and would I come right out."

Dowdy said that by the time she arrived at Brown's house, "the girl from Pratt" had already been taken away. Dowdy went to the basement, where Brown had a rec room, a utility room, and two bedrooms. One bedroom had an attached bathroom.

"Mrs. Brown told me the girl had asked to use the bathroom, had a severe coughing spell and then asked to lie down on the bed. She gasped a few times and was gone. There was a large red spot on the bed."

Dowdy said that she had not been specifically told why Joy was at Brown's home, but believed it was for an abortion. When asked if she was an abortionist, she replied, "Oh no. I've never done an abortion. I just do the cleaning up, the after care." The women would stay with her for three or four days. "I keep them in bed and feed them. I determine when they are ready to go." She said that the "girls" would pay her ten dollars a day. She said that the only medications she would administer were aspirin and laxatives. When asked if she'd call a doctor if one of the "girls" got sick, Dowdy said, "I've never had that happen.

Brown was charged with first degree murder. She remained free on $7,500 bond until the trial. Her defense asserted that Joy had not bled to death but that "death resulted from a collection of mucus in her trachea." Brown convicted of manslaughter by abortion. 

After the conviction, Inez filed $15,000 suit against brown on behalf of Vicky.

Sources: 

Watch "The Lay Abortionist's Excuse" on YouTube.

May 26, 1915: Bullet in the Head Fails to Distract From Abortion

 A Shot Fired in the Night


Anna Johnson
Shortly after midnight on May 27, 1915, a man named Willis Harvey contacted Chicago police to report a dead woman in the home where he lived with Dr. Eva Shaver and her son, Clarence.

The dead woman was Anna Johnson, a 25-year-old hairdresser from Ludington, Michigan. She lay in Clarence's bedroom, with his revolver clutched in her left hand and a bullet wound in the right side of her head.

Two bullet holes marred the walls of the room.

Dr. Shaver told police, "Miss Johnson came to my home eight days ago. She said she was from Ludington, Michigan. She wanted work and I employed her as a maid for $5 a week. She spoke to me only a few times and never mentioned her relatives or anything about being despondent."

Shaver continued, "I sent her to a drug store for cotton late yesterday afternoon, and when I returned I went out to make a professional call. When I got back at 6 o'clock in the evening Harvey told me that he had found her dead body in my son's room." 

Another witness, nurse Anna Bratzenberg, would later corroborate part of Shaver's story at the inquest. She said that she had gone to Shaver's house for an appointment at 5:30 the evening in question. Bratzenberg waited about fifteen minutes until Shaver arrived home. "Harvey whispered something to her. She looked scared. I asked her what was the trouble and she said, 'A girl roomer has just blown her brains out.' I didn't want to get mixed up in something like that, so I left."

Not a Suicide

Dr. Eva Shaver

At first, Coroner's Physician Reinhart issued a statement that Anna, about six weeks into pregnancy, had died from the results of an abortion perpetrated two days earlier. He noted that there was very little blood from the bullet wound, indicating that it was inflicted after death. Later he changed his mind, and decided that there was enough blood from the head wound to indicate that Anna had been alive when the bullet was fired into her brain. Anna was already moribund when the shot was fired.

Whether the shot was fired before of after Anna's heart had stopped beating, the fact that the gun was in Anna's left hand but the bullet wound on the right side, it was clear that she had not shot herself. The coroner's jury concluded that the shooting had been an attempt to hide the fact that an abortion was the true cause of death.

The coroner's jury was unable to determine which of their three suspects fired the shots: Clarence, Dr. Shaver, or Willis Harvey.

Investigators tore up the floorboards in the house, searching for the remains of aborted babies.

The Motive for the Abortion

Anna Johnson
and Marshall Hostetler
Anna's "sweetheart," Marshall Hostetler, collapsed three times when telling his story to the coroner's jury. He was a salesman who had met Anna at the Columbia Dance Hall. After they'd kept company for a year, they got engaged to be married. Eight months into the engagement,  Anna discovered that she was pregnant.

Hostetler testified that he had offered to marry her right away, but Anna didn't want anybody to think they had only married because of the pregnancy. A letter from a woman named Helen, found in Anna's room after her death, indicated another motive for an abortion. It read, in part:
Don't do anything rash, and when you get married, get married right. You have oceans of time for this married bliss stuff. Don't get married too soon; it will mean good night to all your times.
Regardless of her motive, Hostetler described how Anna wanted to proceed. "She asked me if she couldn't take some drugs or something to relieve her condition. I said, 'No, don't take any drugs. You are nervous now, and drugs may have a bad effect on you.'"

The Family Concoction Fails

Clarence Shaver
A few days later, Hostetler encountered Clarence Shaver on the elevated train. The two were already acquainted. 

"I confided in him about Anna's condition," Hostetler testified. "He told me he had a medicine he was about to put on the market that would fix Anna fine." That night, Marshall Hostetler went to Clarence's office at the First National Bank building and bought two boxes of Dr. Eva Shaver's Specific Relief for Ladies, also known as "Dr. Shaver's little red and white pills." 

      Shaver's "Little Red and  White Pills"      
"There were twelve pills in each box -- nine red pills and three white pills. The red pills were to be taken one every two hours and the white once a day."

Hostetler delivered the pills to Anna, who went through two regimens of over the course of about eight days with no effect.

Hostetler reported this failure to Clarence, who showed him letters purportedly from satisfied customers. He told Hostetler that the pills could take a long time to work, as long as 14 weeks -- a claim that leads me to believe that the pills were a placebo and that the Shavers hoped that any miscarriage that occurred when the woman was taking the pills would be attributed to their product. Whatever the case, Clarence provided Hostetler with two more boxes of the pills.

When this new round of pills likewise failed to dislodge the fetus, Hostetler went back to Clarence, who told Hostetler to bring Anna to his office so he could "look her over." Clarence told Hostetler, "My mother is a doctor. She has a midwife and a nurse at her home, and we will take Anna to the the house and give her good care."

The Abortion

"I met Anna at 1 o'clock the afternoon of May 23 and took her to Clarence's office," Hostetler told the coroner's jury. He and Anna had to wait an hour because Clarence was seeing "another patient." The couple met with Clarence, who told them that it would cost $25, cash in advance. "I said, 'Clarence, you know me, you know I'm good,' and he consented to wait for the money."

                          Dr. Eva Shaver's home                         
"Clarence telephoned to his mother that night and arranged to have Anna go to her house as a patient. I took Anna to the house that same night. Dr. Shaver met me at the door," Hostetler said. "Clarence's mother said to me, 'Yes, I can take Anna in, as another patient has been cured and has left a room that Anna can have."

Hostetler left Anna in Dr. Shaver's care. "The following Monday I saw Anna at the doctor's house, and she seemed all right. Last Tuesday night I saw Anna there again. At that time I paid Clarence $10 on the bill. He was disappointed and said he expected all the $25. I talked to Anna and she told me she had taken two treatments."

"About 8:30 o'clock last Tuesday night, while I was talking to Clarence and Anna, Anna fainted and fell to the floor."

Anna's Collapse

Evidently Anna recovered from her faint and Hostetler went home. "Dr. Shaver called me up about 6 o'clock Wednesday evening and told me Anna was dead, that she had shot herself and taken her life. I hurried over there. It was 6:30 o'clock when I reached the house. I wanted to see poor Anna, but Dr. Shaver and her son would not let me. Dr. Shaver said, 'No, you can't see the body. If you want a remembrance of her you must remember her face from the last time you saw her.'"

Hostetler described the aftermath of Anna's death. "Dr. Shaver and her sons wanted me to go to Canada. They asked me to go there and stay until the whole thing 'blew over,' as they said. I was willing to go, but they didn't have the money to send me there. Dr. Shaver said to me, 'This is a serious affair. We may all go to the penitentiary if you stay here.'"

"I spoke of Anna's rings and necklace and asked if I should take them. The doctor said yes so quickly that I stopped and thought it over and said I guessed I would not. I thought it might look suspicious."

Hostetler Told to Hide

Clarence, his mother, and Hostetler pondered how to stash the bereaved young man so that police wouldn't be able to find him. "Finally it was decided I should go to a hospital, and we went to the Fort Dearborn Hospital on the south side, but they refused to take me because I was not sick and also because they wanted $25, which the doctor said she didn't have. So then we went to the Transfer Hotel at Clark and Division Streets." Hostetler went on, "The doctor said, 'You'll be just as safe here as if you were out of town. Nobody will know where you are.'" Clarence spent the night there, but was gone when Hostetler work the next morning.

Coverage of the case does not say why Marshall Hostetler decided not to hide, but instead to go to the police. 

Nurse Helen Johnson, Anna's sister, received a telegram telling of her the death from the Chicago police. Neither Helen, nor any other relatives, could shed any light on the young woman's death. Helen travelled to Chicago to bring back the body so that her widowed father, a laborer named Alexander, could arrange burial. 

Dr. Shaver on Trial

Shaver was tried for Johnson's death and the 1914 abortion death of another patient, Lillie Giovenco. As the date for the Johnson trial approached, witnesses reported death threats. Hostetler found the threats so frightening that he refused to leave police custody, even though re was free to do so, He told police at the inquest that Clarence Shaver had offered him a large sum of money with which he could flee to Canada. Hostetler said that he had truly loved Anna and was not going to leave. The threats had followed. When appearing at court, Marshall was "on the verge of nervous collapse and a physician was called to give him southing medicines." He was placed in a secret location under police guard.

Dr. Shaver was tried twice for Anna's death. The first case ended with a hung jury. 

A Strange Crackdown

Interestingly enough, Anna Johnson's death sparked a crackdown on midwife-abortionists rather than physician-abortionists, even though the corner's records showed both professions to be responsible for a roughly equal number of deaths in Chicago during that era. Part of this, Leslie Reagan believed, was due to the public perception that female practitioners were all midwives, and part was due to the political clout that physicians had but midwives lacked.

Coroner Hoffman said that 174 abortion deaths were reported to his office in two years. "These wildcat maternity homes must be driven out of Chicago, and the Chief of Police and the health department will cooperate with me to this end. I believe there are scores of midwives in Chicago who use their residences as maternity homes, despite the fact that they have no licenses to conduct such places. This is the class of criminal practitioners which must be put out of business. The patients are taken in as roomers, maids or domestics as a blind."

Police Chief Healey said that he would send two detectives with a patrol wagon to investigate possible abortion deaths in the future.


Sources:



Friday, May 24, 2024

New to Me: Mystery Death in North Carolina:

A researcher sent me information about a pre-legalization abortion death. To preserve the woman's privacy, I have redacted her death certificate and will refer to her as "Florence Dorland."

Florence was a 21-year-old Black woman, never married. Her occupation was listed as "babysitter." She lived in Granville County, North Carolina

She came into the care of Dr. Robert E. Zipf, Jr. on December 19, of 1970. At some point he admitted her to Duke Hospital in Durham, where she died on January 4, 1971. Her cause of death is listed as cerebral anoxia due to hepato-renal failure due to abortifacient. The manner of death was identified as homicide, and how injury occurred is induced abortion, with the injury occurring on December 9, 1970 in Richmond, Virginia. 

So, what happened to Florence? Let's look at the circumstances. 

Legal status of abortion: Both North Carolina and Virginia followed the American Law Institute Model Abortion Law in 1970: "A licensed physician is justified in terminating a pregnancy if he believes that there is substantial risk that continuance of the pregnancy would gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother or that the child would be born with grave physical or mental defect, or that the pregnancy resulted from rape, incest or other felonious intercourse." Thus whatever law was on the books would have had no impact on Florence's decision to travel out-of-state. 

Laxity in approving abortions: North Carolina had an abortion ratio of 7 hospital abortions per 1,000 live births, while Virginia had nearly double the abortion ration, with 13 per 1,000 live births. North Carolina did not provide a breakdown of the justification for abortions, but Virginia did, with 357 of 508 hospital abortions (70%) of abortions being done for "maternal mental health." For comparison, 97% of California abortions, 87% of Colorado abortions, 77% of Georgia abortions, 92% of Oregon abortions, and 78% of South Carolina abortions were done for "mental health." Geographically it seems that Florence had double the odds of betting rubber-stamped for an abortion in Virginia than North Carolina, but it's unclear whether she would have been aware of this.

Distance: It's about 122 miles, or about a 2-hour drive, from the area where Florence lived to Richmond, Virginia. Florence had several much closer metropolitan areas to choose from: Durham, Raleigh, and Greensboro. 

Cause of death: The "cause of death" indicates an abortifacient rather than a surgical abortion. It seems unlikely that Florence would have driven nearly two hours to purchase and consume an abortifacient and then travel home again, and more likely that she might have driven nearly two hours to obtain it and then consume it at home. But the location of the injury was an unidentified building in Richmond, not in Florence's home. Whatever the abortifacient was, it was administered in Richmond.

Manner of death: The "manner of death" was homicide, meaning that either the abortion itself was patently illegal, or it was technically legal but performed in such a reckless way that Florence's death would be predictable.

Location of injury: The location was given merely as "building," with nothing more specific such as doctor's office, clinic, hospital, or residence. If Florence had undergone a legal abortion performed recklessly, the physician would likely have listed the location of injury more specifically.

Most likely perpetrator:  Planned Parenthood's medical director, Mary Calderone, concluded in "Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem" (American Journal of Public Health, July 1960), that roughly 90% of pre-legalization abortions were performed by doctors, about 8% by the woman herself, and about 2% by non-physicians. Nancy Howell Lee  (The Search for an Abortionist, University of Chicago Press, 1969) concluded that 89% of pre-legalization abortions were done by physicians, 5% by nurses or others with some medical training, and 6% by non-medical persons or the woman herself. Since both sources agree on the approximate 90% perpetrated by physicians, this number is probably fairly accurate. Thus it's most likely that whomever perpetrated the fatal abortion, it was a doctor.

Had Florence undergone the abortion in New York rather than Virginia, I would have suspected that she had travelled to a freestanding, well-advertised, and openly operating clinic, had some sort of abortifacient administered by a doctor (saline injection, prostaglandin, or something like Leunbach's paste), and had been sent home. This is what happened with "Anita" and "April," who died from outpatient saline abortions initiated legally in New York.

The outpatient scenario would account for the cause of death being "abortifacient" rather than "surgical abortion" or "therapeutic abortion."  

My conclusion: It it seems most likely that Florence learned through the grapevine of a doctor willing to administer an abortifacient paste or hypertonic saline on an outpatient basis. The former seems much more likely, since all but the most reckless of abortionists did saline abortions outside a hospital. If Dr. Zipf expressed disapproval (as he likely would have, given that he found the manner of death to be homicide), Florence might have kept the doctor's name to herself to protect him.

Watch Mystery Abortion in 1970 on YouTube.


May 24, 1912: A Likely Lay Abortionist in Chicago

 On May 24, 1912, 24-year-old homemaker Margaret Duyer died at Englewood Union Hospital in Chicago, due to sepsis caused by an abortion perpetrated the previous day by Paulina Lindenson. Lindenson's profession is listed only as "abortion provider" so it is likely that she was a lay abortionist. She was held by the Coroner on May 24, and indicted by a Grand Jury on July 19, but the case never went to trial.

May 24, 1879: The Death of an Abandoned Wife

Twenty-year-old Jennie Fouts, separated from her husband, lived behind the First Presbyterian Church on New York Street in Cincinnati. On May 15, she collapsed on the street. When others attended to her, Jennie reported having suffered from a dull, aching pain for several days.

She took to her bed, where she was cared for until the evening of May 19, when she was admitted to City Hospital. There, she vomited a black fluid that tested positive for blood. Since this is a symptom of the yellow fever, which had killed three people in the previous few weeks, doctors treated her for that ailment.

She died on May 24, 1879. After her death authorities made contact with a doctor who had treated Jennie prior to her admission and found her to be suffering from an abortion. She would not divulge the name of her abortionist or of her baby's father.

After news broke of Jennie's death, a man calling himself John F. Essler, and claiming to be Jennie's husband, wrote a letter to the coroner stating that he had come to Cincinnati during the first week in April and spent a night pledging to reconcile with Jennie. He had no intention of doing so, instead skipping town with another man's wife. The coroner responded with an open letter which reads in part:
You state that you are the lawful husband of Jennie Fouts; that you obtained all the facts in relation to her unfortunate death through the Indianapolis papers. You ask: "Was she decently interred?" She was, in Crown Hill. She had some true friends who stood by her to the last, and they should be honored for fidelity to that unfortunate woman. Now, sir, let me thank you for your communication. It only confirms the main points in the verdict rendered at the inquest. .... You communication has completely vindicated the honor of your unfortunate wife. Truth, justice and manhood demand that the world should know all the facts and they must and should be told. I will give you a reasonable time to publish them in your own way.
From this I conclude that Jennie's pregnancy probably resulted from that one night with her husband before he finally and totally abandoned her.

If the coroner ever made good his promise to share the secrets of Jennie's husband, they were never shared in any publication I could find.


Sources:

Thursday, May 23, 2024

May 23, 1929: Out on Bail, Rongetti Kills Another Woman

Dr. Amante Rongetti
On May 23, 1929, 24-year-old Elizabeth Palumbo died at West End Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Amante Rongetti signed a death certificate attributing her death to appendicitis. However, upon autopsy the coroner's physician, Dr. Thomas Dwyer, determined that her death had actually been caused by an abortion. 

Rongetti was held by the coroner on June 12 for having perpetrated the fatal abortion on May 10. However, he was acquitted.

All of these goings-on surrounding Elizabeth's death took place while Rongetti was out on bail pending a new trial in the abortion death of Loretta Enders, for which he'd been sentenced to die in the electric chair.

Newly-added source: "Rongetti Held Again on Serious Charge," Journal Gazette, May 27, 1929





May 23, 1982: Fatal Embolism?

Life Dynamics lists 29-year-old divorcee Rhonda Ruggiero on their "Blackmun Wall" of safe and legal abortion deaths. According to the information LDI put together, Rhonda underwent an abortion in May of 1982. She suddenly died of an abortion-related pulmonary embolism on May 23.

Sources:

  • Fatal Pulmonary Embolism During Legal Induced Abortion in the United States from 1972-1985, Lawson, Herschel W., MD, Atrash, Hani K., MD, MPH, Franks, Adele L., MD
  • American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 162, No. 4, April 1990, p. 986-990
  • United States Social Security Death Index database, Rhonda Ruggiero, May 1982; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).

May 23, 1929: A Suspicious Undertaker Uncovers an Abortion Death

 A Suspicious Undertaker

On May 23, 1929, 24-year-old Elizabeth Palumbo died at West End Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Amante Rongetti, age 46, signed a death certificate attributing her death to appendicitis. However, an undertaker thought that Elizabeth's death was suspicious and asked Coroner Herman Bundesen to investigate.

The coroner's physician, Dr. Thomas Dwyer, determined that Elizabeth's death had actually been caused by an abortion performed two days before her death. This led the coroner to launch an inquiry.

Dr. Bundesen released a statement saying, "Deaths resulting from criminal operations are almost invariably the result of wanton carelessness on the part of the operating physician. The quack who bungles this type of surgery and whose disregard of God and sanitation brings death to his victim is a murderer worse than a gunman."

I find it interesting that Dr. Bundesen assumed that most abortions were being performed by physicians. He said that the typical abortion doctor, upon noting that a patient is moribund from complications, will admit her to the hospital and perform an appendectomy so that he has a legal explanation for her death. 

The Widower's Story

Dr. Amante Rongetti
Elizabeth's husband, Anthony, told the coroner's jury that Elizabeth had been in pain since a previous criminal abortion. "Last Sunday night my wife complained of pains in her right side and I took her to Dr. Rongetti's offices. I had known of Rongetti through relatives and he had once treated me, saying I did not have tuberculosis but something 'close to T.B.'"

Tony went on, "He examined my wife and he told her she had acute appendicitis. He said, 'Yes, it is an acute case. I will have to take that appendix right out.' We didn't like the idea, the pain had been so severe. My wife told  him she expected to become a mother. He said, 'Well, I will have to take care of that, too.'"

Tony indicated that he took this to mean that Rongetti would have to perform an abortion in order to remove Elizabeth's appendix. He said that he and Elizabeth went home and discussed the situation and decided to go with Rongetti's recommendation.

The Operation

The next day the couple went back to Rongetti's office. Rongetti, Tony said, sent him home and took Elizabeth to the hospital himself. "On Tuesday morning he operated. I saw her Tuesday and she said she felt all right. I saw her Wednesday and she said the same, but she did not look well. On Thursday morning they called me and said she was bad. After I got to the hospital, they stalled for a while but finally told me she was dead."

Dr. Dwyer, who had performed the autopsy, attributed the death to abortion-related infection. He said that the incision Rongetti had made when he'd operated on Elizabeth was in the center of her abdomen, not in the location to perform an appendectomy. Dr. Bundesen and Dwyer both testified that there would be no need to perform an abortion in order to remove an appendix.

Investigation and Scrutiny

Rongetti was held by the coroner on June 12 for having perpetrated the fatal abortion. When the investigation ended, Rongetti vanished. He turned himself in on July 2 and was released after only a few minutes because he had arranged in advance for his attorney to bail him out.

Authorities also put West End Hospital under scrutiny, noting that on January 15 of that year the fire prevention engineer had cited ten violations there. The hospital's owner, Dr. Benjamin Breakstone, had himself been investigated by the coroner on other occasions.

Stalling and Acquittal

Rongetti managed to stall the trial for over a year. When the jury was chosen, jurors were required to pledge that if legally appropriate, they would sentence Rongetti to death.

However, he was acquitted after three ballots. The first stood 7 to 5 for acquittal but after three further hours of deliberation the five jurors voting for conviction were won over by the majority.

All of these goings-on surrounding Elizabeth's death took place while Rongetti was out on bail pending a new trial in the abortion death of Loretta Enders, for which he'd been sentenced to die in the electric chair. He won a new trial and Rongetti was found guilty of manslaughter in Loretta's death. He was out on bail in the Enders case when Elizabeth died.

The Medical Board's Verdict

The medical board did not agree with the jury in Elizabeth's case. They moved to revoke Rongetti's license while he was out on bail pending appeal of a manslaughter conviction. Their grounds were that he was under conviction for manslaughter, and that he had committed gross malpractice in the deaths of both Loretta Enders and Elizabeth Palumbo. Rongetti dragged the process out but did eventually lose his license.

Watch Second Death While Out on Bail on YouTube.

Sources: 


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

May 22, 2000: One of Seventeen Known Deaths at NAF Flagship

Kenneth Wright
The Fresno Bee reported that Family Planning Associates Medical Group (FPA) and abortionist Kenneth Wright were being sued by the family of 38-year-old Kimberly Neil, who died after Wright performed a safe and legal abortion on her. 

To the best of my knowledge, this makes at least 17 dead abortion patients for FPA. 

The suit says that FPA staff failed to properly monitor Kimberly, and failed to treat her properly when she stopped breathing during the abortion, performed on May 2, 2000. Kimberly slipped into a coma from which she never recovered. She died May 22. She left behind three children ages 19, 13, and 4.

Family Planning Associates Medical Group is a member of the prestigious National Abortion Federation, which purportedly assures that all members adhere to the highest standards of safety and care. I know of 16 women who have died after abortions at FPA. In addition to Kimberly, they are:



Sources: