Saturday, March 30, 2024

March 30 and 31, 1930: One Doctor, Two Days, Two Deaths

Yearbook photo of a smiling young white woman with bobbed hair, wearing a print dress
Gladys Anderson
During an inquest into the March 30, 1930 death of Gladys Anderson, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Illinois, word came that Cleo Hinton, a 24-year-old stenographer from Champaign, Illinois, had also died from a botched abortion. Both deaths were linked to Dr. Thomas Eade.

Cleo died in a Champaign hospital on March 31 due to peritonitis caused by an abortion. Eade was charged with murder in her death but was acquitted. Nevertheless the medical board was not satisfied and investigated to see if the evidence of his complicity was enough to revoke his license. 

Eade told the state medical board that when Cleo had come to him on March 23, he believed that she was suffering from intestinal influenza which could not have been caused by an abortion.

Friday, March 29, 2024

March 29, 2015: It Took Her Over 21 Years to Die

 Planned Parenthood referred 17-year-old Christi to an unsafe clinic for an abortion that left her brain damaged. It took her nearly 22 years to die.

It took her 21 years, 8 months, and 28 days to die.

Christi Stile was only 17 when she came home from roller skating with a friend. She looked shaken and distressed, but when her parents asked her what was wrong, she said that she had just had harsh words with somebody and didn't want to talk about it. Kay and Fred Stile gave the incident no more thought for a long, long time.

Four months later, Christi came to her mother and said that she was pregnant. She was crying, saying that she just couldn't have this baby; it would kill her. In retrospect, Kay said that this is what one should expect from a 17-year-old girl. But at the time, although Fred and Kay disapproved of abortion, Kay agreed to drive Christi to her abortion appointment at Aurora's Mayfair Women's Center.

To make a sad situation even sadder, the abortion was scheduled for the day after Christi's 18th birthday, July 1, 1993. Even though they'd been referred to Mayfair by a Planned Parenthood, Kay and Christi were nervous. Was abortion really safe? Kay went with Christi for the informed consent session and asked about safety. She was reassured that the only risk was of heavy bleeding, and that the clinic had everything on hand to deal with that situation should it arise. Kay felt reassured.

Kay stayed in the waiting area as Christi went back for her abortion. Suddenly, the demeanor of the staff changed. There was something wrong, Kay was sure. She was also sure that Christi was the patient who was in some sort of trouble. Kay questioned a staffer, who told her that Christi had experienced a minor complication and that she was being taken to the hospital for observation. Purely routine -- she would be discharged tomorrow. There was no cause for alarm, Kay was assured. Christi was fine; they were just being cautious.

Kay rushed to the hospital in a near panic. When she was arrived, staff told her that she couldn't see Christi until she calmed herself. Steeling her nerve, Kay steadied herself and was led to a patient's bedside.

The girl in the bed was unconscious, stuck full of tubes. Her face was swollen and distorted.

"That's not my daughter," Kay told them. But a nurse handed her a plastic bag containing Christi's jewelry. The girl in the bed was Christi.

Kay had to do the hardest thing she'd ever done in her life: call her husband and tell him he didn't have his daughter any more. She was alive, but she was no longer the same Christi.

Fred and Kay later learned what had happened at Mayfair. Abortionist Ronald Kuseski, not an anesthesiologist, had administered sedatives to Christi through her IV. After the abortion, he looked up to find Christi pale, with bluish lips, and no pulse or respiration. Her heart had stopped. Paramedics were summoned, who managed to restore Christi's pulse and respiration before rushing her to the hospital.

A thin, middle-aged white man sits at the bedside of a disabled young woman, looking into her face and holding her hand
Fred and Kay provided care for 22 years
The clinic had no record of Christi's vital signs being recorded during the abortion. Although Kuseski's attorney insisted that the clinic had a "crash cart" to deal with cardiorespiratory arrest, Kay says that Kuseski had told her that the clinic had no "crash cart." The medical board investigation found that Kuseski didn't have pulse oximetery equipment in place for Christi's abortion. Kuseski denied any misconduct during Christi's abortion. The Medical Board sent him a "Letter of Admonition" telling him to adhere to "Anesthesia Monitoring Guidelines" in the future, and to attend CPR and Advanced Cardiac Life Support training.

Perhaps out of concern that Fred and Kay might blame Christi's boyfriend for what had happened to her, Christi's friend told them what had really happened the night she and Christi had gone skating. Christi had been so upset not because she'd had a tiff with a friend, but because an acquaintance had raped her behind the rink.

Standing at Christi's bedside during the filming of Christi's Choice, a documentary video about the family's ordeal, Fred Stile commented that had Christi had her baby instead of having the abortion, he'd be changing diapers on his grandchild instead of on his incapacitated daughter. The baby, of course, would have long since been out of diapers by the time the video was released.

Christi finally died of her lingering complications on March 29, 2015, at the age of 39. Her baby would have been 21 years old. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

March 28, 2014: Would "TRAP" Have Saved Lakisha?

 Abortion-rights groups have been fighting to halt laws that would treat abortion clinics like ambulatory surgical centers. The abortion lobby insists that regulations such as size of doorways and hallways and elevators are just nit-picky and have nothing to do with women's well-being. What they don't want you to know is why these size requirements are included in ambulatory surgery center regulations. If a patient is having a life-threatening emergency, EMS workers need to be able to get the patient onto a gurney and perform resuscitation efforts while moving the patient from the procedure room into the ambulance.

On this date in 2014, 22-year-old Lakisha Wilsondied because a clinic was not laid out to allow easy access by an ambulance gurney.

A smiling young Black woman, with bright jewelry and clothing, casually-coiffed hair, and a radiant smile
Lakisha Wilson
Operation Rescue obtained the autopsy report. Lakisha went to Preterm Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on March 21, 2014. She was 19.4 weeks pregnant. Further investigation by Operation Rescue reveals further details on the pathetic excuse for treatment Lakisha received at the clinic, as well as how the substandard conditions in the clinic contributed to Lakisha's death. After the safe, legal abortion, performed by Lisa Perierra, she began bleeding heavily because her uterus had become soft (atony). 

The procedure rooms at Preterm are on the third floor of the building. When emergency medical services arrived, the elevator was malfunctioning. They were delayed in getting the gurney to Lakisha due to this problem. When they entered the room, where Lakisha still lay on the abortion table with her legs in the stirrups, they found her abortionist, Dr. Lisa Perriera, trying to resuscitate her with a pediatric-sized Ambu-Bag. The IV for administering medications had been torn loose somehow by clinic staff. 

EMS began working to revive Lakisha, who had no pulse and was not breathing. The medics were able to get her heart going but were hampered in their further resuscitation efforts because the elevator was too small to properly accommodate the gurney; Lakisha had to be taken into the elevator in a seated position that did not provide adequate access to her airway. 
Several house later she was finally taken to Chase University Medical Center, where she was placed on life support and pronounced dead on March 28.

Here is video, with 911 audio, of an ambulance call two years before Lakisha's death. This patient, like Lakisha, was hemorrhaging due to uterine atony. In this patient's case, the elevator wasn't working at all. Fortunately, she survived.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

March 27, 1929: An Abortion-Rights Poster Child

Clara Bell Duvall
According to the National Organization for Women web site, Clara Bell Duvall was a 32-year-old married mother of five, aged 6 months to 12 years. She and her family were living with her parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania due to financial problems. NOW says that Clara attempted a self-induced abortion with a knitting needle. Though she was seriously ill and severe pain, NOW says, Clara's doctor delayed hospitalizing her for several weeks. Her death, at a Catholic hospital on March 27, 1929, was attributed to pneumonia.

I'd welcome any verifying information on Mrs. Duvall's death. After all, NOW also claims that Becky Bell died from complications of an illegal abortion, when in fact she died of pneumonia concurrent with a miscarriage. (There was no evidence that Becky's pregnancy had been tampered with in any way.) But if people who think abortion is a good idea want to blame Clara's death on abortion, I'll let them claim her as somebody their ideology killed.

Clara Duvall seems to be the woman described in the chapter, "Marilyn," in The Worst of Times by Patricia G. Miller. Marilyn was Clara's daughter. There are differences in Marilyn's story and in the story NOW relates, but I was able to find enough information matching "Claudia" with the real Clara Bell Duval to conclude that they are the same woman.


Marilyn gives her mother's name as Claudia, and her age as 34. The difference in ages may be attributed to people taking the years of the woman's birth and death and calculating her age without taking the months into account. Marilyn also said that her mother sang with the Pittsburgh light opera company, so it is possible that Marilyn might be using a false name for her mother to preserve the family's privacy.

Clara/Claudia's association with the opera company may also explain the elegant portrait on NOW's site -- a portrait that a poverty-stricken and desperate woman would have been unlikely to afford.

The following facts match:
  • Five children, from an infant to a 12-year-old
  • Living in Pittsburgh
  • Died in March of 1929
  • Death originally attributed to pneumonia
  • The woman used a knitting needle
  • Was at home for several days before being hospitalized
  • Died in a hospital
  • Cared for until her death by her usual doctor who seemed at a loss as to how to care for his moribund patient
Marilyn said that her brother Gerald was the oldest, twelve years old when Clara died. Eileen was ten. Rose was eight, Marilyn was six, and Constance was 18 months. Marilyn describes poignantly the difference between her life before her mother's death and her life after losing her mother. The loss was truly shattering for the entire family.

Marilyn said that her mother had gotten help from a friend for a successful abortion between the births of Marilyn and Constance. Marilyn didn't have any details of the first abortion, and got what she knew about the fatal abortion from her sister Eileen, who had spoken at length with their mother when she was hospitalized -- though it seems odd that a dying woman would be explaining to a 10-year-old girl how she performed a knitting-needle abortion on herself.

Differences in the Stories

NOW's story differs from Marilyn's in many aspects, however. Aside from the different age and name, the following aspects do not match:
  • NOW has the family living with the woman's parents; Marilyn said that they were living in a large house owned by her mother's parents.
  • NOW indicates that the family were too poor to afford a home of their own. Marilyn said that they lived in a large house, and that her father was an editor of one of Pittsburgh's daily newspapers, and that he did freelance public relations for sports events. Marilyn also said that one of her mother's friends was the wife of a well-known Pittsburgh industrialist. This is not a likely friendship for a destitute woman forced to move her family of seven into her parents' home. Marilyn also said that her mother was laid to rest in a magnificent mahogany casket with a satin lining, hardly the sort of burial a poverty-crushed widower could afford for his dead wife. Marilyn also said that the casket lay in the parlor, not a room that poor people were likely to have. In fact, Marilyn describes how shocking it was, after her mother's death, to go live with poor relatives. Poverty was a new experience for the child. In fact, Marilyn describes a riverboat outing the family took before her mother's death. She described how the girls were dressed in matching navy blue coats with red satin linings, and her brother had a jacket and tie.
Reconciling the Stories

Census data from 1920 indicates that Clara Duvall was the wife of Grafton Duvall. Grafton was a newspaper editor. In 1920 the couple had two children, Grafton Jr., age 4, and Elinor Jane, age 20 months. The couple and their children lived at 1616 Westfield Avenue, the same address at Clara's parents, Joseph and Sadie Bell and their two sons, Harry, age 31, and Joseph Jr., age 30. Joseph Sr. was an engineer. Harry was listed as "invalid," meaning incapacitated and unable to work. Joseph Jr. was listed as a fireman on the railroad. 

The Duvall family were still at the 1616 Westfield Avenue address at the time of Clara's death. 

The December 3, 1914 Pittsburgh Post notes: "Miss Bell's Betrothal: An interesting engagement announced yesterday was that of Miss Clara Jane Bell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Bell, of Aspinwall, to Grafton O. Duvall, son of Dr. and Mrs. Wirt Duvall of Baltimore. Mr. Duvall is a student in the University of Maryland, where he is in the law department."

Grafton and Clara married in 1915 in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania when he was 24 years old and she was 20. Grafton Jr. was born February 28, 1916 in Baltimore; Eleanor Jane was born June 28, 1918 in Baltimore. The couple moved to Pittsburgh in 1926, where their daughter Claire was born on September 10, 1927. The other children, Roxanna Bell and Mildred Linn, were mentioned in Clara's obituary, "Death Claims Church Singer," in the March 28, 1929 Pittsburgh Press

The January 9, 1922 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes for the night's KDKA radio program that Mrs. Grafton Duvall would sing soprano solos, "Summer Wind," "Mighty Lak a Rose," "My Shadows," and "The World is Waiting." In fact, Clara shows up frequently in the society pages as a soloist at various events in the city.

So there are two possibilities:
  1. Clara Bell Duvall and Claudia are two different women, both with five children, both of whom lived in homes owned by their parents, who both performed knitting-needle abortions in the same city in the same month, and who both died in hospitals and both had their deaths wrongly attributed to pneumonia.
  2. Clara and Claudia are the same woman, and but NOW turned her from a prosperous matron and opera singer into a wretched slum mother in order to make her situation seem more desperate.
If what NOW and Marilyn describe is accurate, then Clara/Claudia's abortion was unusual in that it was self-induced, rather than performed by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

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Monday, March 25, 2024

March 25, 1941: Woman's Body Found on Country Road

Addie Wilson, age 48, was indicted for manslaughter and abortion conspiracy in connection with the death of 25-year-old Marie Swift. Marie's body was found on a country road on March 25, 1941.

Herman Ward, Marie's fiancé, was indicted for abortion and conspiracy.

Addie Wilson's 16-year-old son, Clarence, was held as a material witness.

Watch When Men Were Held Accountable on YouTube.

  • "Indict Two in Death of Girl Found Dead in MD," Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal, April 18, 1941

Saturday, March 23, 2024

March 23: Body Dumped on Mountain

 On March 23, 1950, someone strolling on the mountain close to Route 460 near Blacksburg, Virginia, found a young woman's body. The dead woman was identified as Alice Marie Taylor, age 24, a clerk for the Veterans Administration in Roanoke.

A note written in green on her death certificate says, "Will not know any more details until the alleged murderer is tried. It is alleged that an attempted abortion was done -- died in the attempt."

Dartha Louise Fulton, a 42-year-old former taxi driver, was arrested at a tourist camp and charged with murder. Police believed that Fulton had perpetrated the abortion. Woodson Tuck, age 20, was arrested as an accessory. Christine Jones, age 28, was held as a material witness.