Sunday, October 02, 2022

Kitchen Table Surgery

As I've said before, tales of kitchen-table abortions in the "bad old days" need to be placed in the context of their times, when kitchen-table surgery was the not unusual:

  • House Calls and Home Care: "One account of kitchen table surgery performed by Drs. Eustace and Mary Sloop around 1917 seems incredible by today’s standards. A 13-year-old girl in the mountains of Avery County urgently needed kidney surgery that winter. Impassable frozen creeks delayed the doctors for days, but they finally reached the girl’s home by horseback. They placed the girl on a sterile sheet on the kitchen table and had her mother administer ether. Curious neighbors and relatives pressed in close to watch and kept trying to touch the surgical instruments. A chicken strutted in, flew up in the air and landed on the girl’s stomach. The doctors feared the worst, but amazingly, the girl lived. Six weeks later, she walked down the mountain to visit her doctors."

  • The Dust Bowl Years: "Another dust-caused ailment of the period was ruptured appendixes. Country doctors who encountered a rash of them, were unable to perform even kitchen-table surgery while the dust blew, but without sophisticated help developed their own, drastic, simple procedures for coping. Rather than operating to remove the infected organs, they simply inserted drains so that the pus could run out. Their survival rates were phenomenally high in the pre-antibiotic era when a ruptured appendix ordinarily was a death warrant. Medical journals published later, when the doctors had time to write up their findings, describe the new procedures developed out of desperation. "

  • Kitchen table surgery in 1897: "The medical term 'inflammation of the bowels' is not commonly used in the modern age. In the 1880s it was usually a death sentence. Now known as appendicitis, it is commonly treated by surgery. That form of treatment was first utilized in England in the 1700 and was being performed in big-city American hospitals in the 1880s. It came to Jamestown on Sept. 8, 1897, when Dr. Helena Wink performed the first such operation on her kitchen table. This surgery was performed on Lizzy Stuff, a 9-year-old girl who lived with her family north of Bloom."

  • Halsted: The Father of Science-Based Surgery: "One (dark and stormy?) night in 1882, a critically ill 70 year old woman was at the verge of death at her daughter's home, suffering from fever, crippling pain, nausea, and an inflamed abdominal mass. At 2 AM, a courageous surgeon put her on the kitchen table and performed the first known operation to remove gallstones. The patient recovered uneventfully. The patient was the surgeon's own mother."

  • I have also found a medical journal article from 1901 and a medical textbook from 1921 describing hot to prepare for surgery performed in homes:
    I'd welcome other examples.

    Saturday, October 01, 2022

    October 1, 2002: Coerced Abortion Leads to Suicide

    A smiling young white woman with long, straight blond hair, dressed in white graducation cap and gown
    Stacy Zallie
    Stacy Zallie, then a 20-year-old college student, wanted to become an elementary school teacher. Though she loved children and wanted to become a mother, she went to  Steven Chase Brigham's "American Medical Services" in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on July 6, 2001 for an abortion. According to a post by Stacy's family, she "was the victim of a coerced abortion, which violated her personal, moral and spiritual beliefs."

    Please note that abortion advocates frequently boast about abortion clinics selling abortions to women in violation of their core beliefs rather than direct them towards the kind of help that won't damage their identities.

    At Brigham's facility, Stacy was provided with a "Fact Sheet on Surgical Abortion" which did not address the risks of major depression or suicide but merely recommended that a patient should talk to a counselor or psychiatrist if she thought she needed help after the abortion.

    Stacy kept the abortion a secret from her family, but they noticed behavior changes. Her parents arranged psychiatric care after Stacy took an overdose of pills. Four months later, without saying why, Stacy quit going to therapy and resumed her drinking binges. On October 1, 2002, mere days before she was to serve as a bridesmaid in her brother's wedding, Stacy took her own life after at least three failed prior attempts at suicide.

    After learning of the abortion and Stacy's unbearable anguish afterward, her parents started the **Stacy Zallie Foundation** to provide post-abortion care so that nobody else's daughter suffers the fate their daughter did. The Zallie family takes no stand on abortion, seeking to keep their focus on providing desperately-needed aftercare to suffering women, regardless of politics, creed, or religion.

    The Foundation also notes that there are known risk factors for a post-abortion mental health crisis:
    • Previous mental health issues
    • Being coerced or forced into the abortion
    • Having beliefs that abortion is wrong
    • Lack of family support
    • Abortion for fetal indications
    The saddest thing to me about the Foundation is that -- likely to avoid political hot buttons -- it does not address the problem of high-risk women undergoing abortions without adequate counseling.

    Abortion is associated with an increase in all forms of violent death: accident, homicide, and suicide. Other post-abortion suicides include:

    • "Sandra Roe," age 18, who killed herself using an unidentified means in April of 1971
    • Sandra Kaiser, age 15, who threw herself off an overpass into traffic in November of 1984
    • Carol Cunningham, age 21, who shut herself in her garage, ran her car, and died from the exhaust fumes in August of 1986
    • Arlin della Cruz, age 19, who hanged herself in the woods near her house in October of 1992
    • Haley Mason, age 22, who overdosed on pills and alcohol in April of 2001
    • Laura Grunas, age 30, who fatally shot her baby's father and then herself in August of 2006
    Unfortunately a lot of the discussion about post-abortion suicide turns into a battle between prolifers pointing out the risk and abortion enthusiasts insisting that it doesn't exist. Since abortion enthusiasts also put forth other absurd claims -- such as the claim that 5,000 - 10,000 women were dying from botched abortions prior to legalization, the claim that Kermit Gosnell was "an outlier", and the claim that abortion doesn't impact future childbearing -- we have to look at their assertions with a jaded eye.

    There is one aspect to abortion supporters' claims that is valid: When there is a post-abortion suicide, the woman is usually a patient who already had emotional, mental health, or relationship problems. However, instead of trying to steer those women towards mental health support, they blithely assure them that the abortion will be either a non-event or a cause for unmitigated relief, take their money, get them onto the table, then send them home without a single thought to their future well-being.  They're just as oblivious of whether the woman takes her own life as they are of whether she bleeds to death after they shove her out the door.

    It's quite likely that the link between abortion and suicide is largely because of a common causality. After all, abortion and suicide are both drastic and irreversible approaches to distressing circumstances. Thus, women actively seeking abortions rather than practical and emotional support when distressed by a pregnancy are probably also more likely to seek suicide rather than practical and emotional support when distressed after the abortion. I would expect this to be especially true when the woman reflects that the problems the abortion was supposed to solve are still troubling her. 

    More resources:

    October 1, 1989: Severed Blood Vessels, Hemorrhage, and Death

    Brenda Banks was 35 years old and 13 weeks pregnant when she went to Hillcrest Women's Surgi-Center in Washington, DC, for an abortion.

    The abortion was performed by Llewelyn Crooks on September 30, 1989.

    Brenda went into shock, and was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

    Doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy and transfused Brenda with 20 units of red blood cells, to no avail. She died the following day, October 1, 1989.

    Brenda's uterus had been perforated and several major blood vessels had been cut or severed entirely.

    Her survivors were unable to collect damages from Crooks and Hillcrest because Crooks' insurance company was insolvent, and Hillcrest carried no insurance.

    I have been unable to determine if the Hillcrest where Brenda had her abortion is affiliated with the Hillcrest in Pennsylvania where Kelly Morse had her fatal abortion.

    Crooks was also sued for botching a delivery, resulting in the death of the infant, and for a second obstetric case in which the baby suffered severe brain damage.


    • District of Columbia Superior Court
    • "Woman died after abortion at Hillcrest in D.C.," Defend Life, March-April 2001

    Friday, September 30, 2022

    September 30, 1985: Another Black Woman on the Altar of Choice

    Life Dynamics identified 21-year-old Gaylene Michelle Golden on their “Blackmun Wall” as the woman who died after an abortion by by Dr. Joe Bills Reynolds. 

    Reynolds performed the abortion on Gaylene in his Oklahoma City office on September 30, 1985. 

    Due to a cervical laceration, Gaylene developed an embolism — both air and amniotic fluid in her bloodstream. This embolism killed her, leaving Gaylene’s son motherless.

    The man Gaylene had entrusted with her life was a jack of all trades, doing a variety of elective surgeries, including safe and legal abortions, in his filthy clinic. His primary focus, though, seemed to be liposuction. Perhaps abortion seemed to be an easy way to make money using the same suction machine.

    Reynolds’ anesthetist, age 60, had originally been hired as a janitor, and an untrained orderly was acting as his nurse. The operating room was littered with dirty cups and papers.

    The quality of care at Reynold's facility was appalling

    Reynolds tried to collect $500,000 on his wife’s life insurance after she bled to death after he opened 25-inch incision, ostensibly for liposuction, on September 7, 1989. Reynolds was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and fined $1. He voluntarily surrendered his Oklahoma license.

    ADDENDUM: Reynolds’ daughter, Shelly Reynolds, was charged with performing at least seven abortion without a license at her father’s clinic after he was stripped of his own license. (“District Attorney Seeks Abortion Information, The Oklahoman, July 31, 1991)

    Watch Wife-Killer's Forgotten Victim on YouTube.


    • "Doctor’s Trial Nears In Liposuction Death,” The Daily Oklahoman, Apr. 22, 1991
    • District Court of Oklahoma (OK) County, Case, CJ 87-2991
    • 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

    Thursday, September 29, 2022

    September 29, 1923: Revelations at a Baby Farm

    On September 29, 1923, 44-year-old Annie Allison, a London native living in Brooklyn, died at the office of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard at 114 West 71st Street in Manhattan. Mottard practiced under the name of Dr. Henry L. Green. Annie was a homemaker. Her husband, Herbert Allison, was a music professor. According to census records, she and Herbert had two children Bernhard and Elsie, who were young adults at the time of their mother's death.

    Annie was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, on October 2. 

    However, Annie's death certificate, signed by a Dr. Husson, attributed her death to chronic cardiac nephritis. 

    Two years later, police were investigating 41-year-old Mottard for his suspected involvement in a kidnap/adoption scheme and the disappearance of an infant returned to him after a family backed out of an adoption. Somehow this investigation raised suspicions that Mottard was up to more than just kidnapping and selling infants. They had Annie exhumed. That's when things got really weird.

    During the post-mortem examination, performed on April 17, 1925, doctors found that somebody had removed Annie's brain, heart, kidneys, and other organs. Mottard reportedly admitted that he had indeed performed an abortion but that Annie had actually died from falling down the shaft of a dumbwaiter on his premises while she was there recuperating. She had, he said, mistaken the dumbwaiter shaft for a bathroom. However, there were no broken bones or other injuries consistent with a fall. 

    Mottard denied having been at his practice at the time that Annie died.

    It was revealed that she had died from an abortion. Mottard was arrested on suspicion of homicide. His bond was set at $25,000. That's over $400,000 in 2022 dollars.

    Police concluded that Mottard was running a very lucrative abortion business out of the Manhattan brownstone, bringing in as much as $100,000 a year. That's nearly $1.7 million in 2022 dollars. He admitted that he had performed many abortions and claimed no maternal fatalities. 

    During the investigation, police searched Mottard's ten-acre farm outside the city for evidence of more bodies after allegations arose that Mottard had also performed an abortion there on a young woman the previous January. An operating room and a machine gun were found in the 14-room farmhouse. I haven't been able to find reports that they found the remains of any babies.

    A second homicide case was filed against Mottard by officials of Suffolk County, where the farm was located. They had evidence that one of Mottard's rural abortion patients had suffered the same fate as Annie Allison. 

    Mottard admitted to having performed three abortions in the farmhouse but recanted his admission that he had performed the fatal one on Annie. 

    Mottard told officials that he had come to New York five years earlier from Wisconsin and had changed his name from Mottard to Green because he preferred the name. Records do show him practicing chiropractic in Milwaukee in the first quarter of the century.

    Watch "She Fell Down the Elevator Shaft" on YouTube.


    Wednesday, September 28, 2022

    Are Abortions Used as Birth Control?

    With just under one million abortions a year in the United States, many people wonder: Are women just using abortion as a method of birth control? 

    There are different school of thought on this question. Some prolife hardliners hold that unless the pregnancy is the result of non-consensual sex, or some health problem in mother or fetus is discovered during pregnancy, it's "abortion for birth control." 

    The Alan Guttmacher Institute published a study reviewing why women undergo abortions. Each woman could give multiple reasons, but let's look at the ones where the primary reason would be a "hard case." 4% of women said their primary reason for abortions was concerns for their own health. 3% said their primary reason was concern for the health of the fetus. Incest wasn't listed as a possible reason. Rape constituted less than 1/2 of 1%. This means that just over 7% of women gave health concerns for themselves or the fetus, or nonconsensual sex, as the primary reason for an abortion.

    This would mean that just under 93% of abortions are done for birth control.

    What about women who have repeat abortions? That would certainly seem like those women were using abortion as birth control. The most recent CDC numbers I could find indicate that in 2019, 58.2% of women were undergoing a first abortion, 23.8% had one prior abortion, 10.5% had two previous abortions, and 7.5% had three or more previous abortions. (Note: This is more than the total number of women citing rape, incest, or health as the primary reason for an abortion.) This would indicate that 41.8% of women are using abortions for birth control.

    What about defining "abortion as birth control" as a woman who was not using birth control when she conceived, and she had no intention of becoming pregnant. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 49% of women undergoing abortions had not been using birth control the month that they became pregnant. Since some of these women might not have realized they had health problems, or might have discovered that the baby had a health problem, or might have been raped, I'll subtract 7.5% to account for those cases. That would put the leave 45.3% of women using abortion as birth control.

    Thus, at the low end, looking at repeat abortions, it looks as if nearly 42% of women who undergo abortions are using it as birth control. A slightly higher proportion, just over 45%, weren't using birth control and sought abortions instead. And 93% are having abortions because, for whatever reason, they just don't want to have the baby.

    To look at some of the dynamics involved, I highly recommend Taking Chances: Abortion and the Decision Not to Contracept, by Kristin Luker.

    Here are some resources that provide further food for thought:

    Watch the video on YouTube.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2022

    September 27, 1931: Newark's Tragic Bride

    In early September of 1931, Jane Coult, the daughter of a Newark, New Jersey judge, secretly married John Merrill. The couple had a public wedding at the bride's home on September 22.

    Five days later, Jane was dead.

    She had been under the care of  Dr. Aloysius Mulholland, age 35, from September 24 through 26th before being admitted to Polyclinic Hospital in New York. Police said that Jane had paid Mulholland $500 of a $600 abortion fee. An autopsy confirmed that her death was due to a criminal abortion.

    Both Mulholland and Jane's new husband were charged with murder. Each was released on $7,500 bond. Mulholland made no statement on the advice of his attorney. This turned out to be very good advice, because the case didn't end up going forward.

    Mulholland was later charged with the abortion death of Katherine DiDonato and again remained free. He was finally imprisoned in 1943 after being charged with several abortions which were not fatal to the mothers.

    Watch "The Tragic Five-Day Bride" on YouTube.


    September 27: Cervical Dilator Left in Woman's Uterus, Resulting in Death

    I don't like to dehumanize women by just using initials, so the woman identified in medical board documents as "S.H." will be called "Shirelle."

    Frank Rodriguez
    On September 22, 2012, 31-year-old Shirelle went to Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, for an abortion. There, Dr. Frank Rodriguez pushed a cervical dilator into Shirelle's uterus and left it there. Shirelle died five days later, on September 27.

    It's interesting to note that the medical board doesn't mention Shirelle's death in the disciplinary documents. Operation Rescue discovered the death on a malpractice payout reporting form.

    Evidently the insurance payout was done quietly, since I have not been able to find any newspaper coverage of Shirelle's death.

    Monday, September 26, 2022

    September 26, 1990: NAF Member Abu "The Butcher of Avenue A" Hayat

    The National Abortion Federation promises the moon. Their providers are supposedly the safest in the land. In practice, they don't exactly live up to their sterling reputation. Case in point: Dr. Abu Hayat, "The Butcher of Avenue A."

    NAF member Abu Hayat
    Sophie McCoy, age 17, was raising a toddler son and trying to finish her studies at Clara Barton High School when she learned that she was pregnant.

    On September 17, 1990, Sophie ("Patient C") went to the office of National Abortion Federation member Abu Hayat, accompanied by her mother, Carmen McCoy, and by the husband of the operator of a facility identified as "the Willoughby Avenue Clinic." Sophie had been referred to him, but medical board documents do not say by whom.

    Sophie and Carmen returned to Hayat's office the next day and paid $300 for the safe, legal abortion. Sophie was given intravenous medications which put her to sleep. She was kept about four hours and discharged with another prescription for antibiotics.

    That evening, Sophie was bleeding, had abdominal pain, and was having trouble breathing.

    The next day, September 19, Sophie was struggling to breathe, so Carmen took her to Kings County Medical Center. Sophie was admitted reporting vaginal bleeding, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Dr. Harding, who treated her, discovered that Sophie had a perforated uterus and serious sepsis. An emergency hysterectomy was performed, but Sophie developed disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (a clotting disorder) and septic shock. 

    Sophie died on September 26, leaving her one-year-old son motherless.

    Blue and white logo with text: NAF and National Abortion Federation
    After Sophie's death, Hayat originally denied having treated her at all. But Sophie's mother identified Hayat by name and from a photograph.

    While continuing to deny having treated Sophie, Hayat told one of the physicians who had tried to save her life that she had expelled a fetus at home and come to him for treatment, whereupon he'd sent her to the hospital. But Margie, an employee of his, recognized Sophie from a photo and said that Hayat had indeed treated the girl on two occasions. 

    Margie added that after the second visit, Sophie's mother had called, hysterical and crying. Margie further said that she had seen medical records for Sophie at the facility, and that Hayat had argued with the referring clinic about  payments for Sophie's treatment.

    The case was reported to the district attorney and the New York Health Department. Hayat had been the target of state investigation since 1988, but the complaints against him weren't considered to be of a serious enough nature to warrant quick action. Further investigation after Sophie's death indicated that Hayat might have been using dirty instruments when he performed Sophie's abortion, leading to the fatal infection, but nobody took any action against him until he pulled the arm off an infant during an abortion attempt in 1991. 

    The child, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, (pictured), was born at a nearby hospital. Her right arm was entirely absent from the shoulder. 

    Hayat was arrested, charged with assault and illegal third-trimester abortion, and convicted.