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Read This First:
How can you know how much you can trust what you are told by a prolife or prochoice organization's communications? How do you know if what a web site or newsletter says is accurate or not?
There is one easy rule to follow: Truthful sites provide reliable sources for their information.
As you look over the information on the Cemetery of Choice, you'll find that whenever possible, I provide either links to information or actual copies of documents such as news articles and death certificates. In other cases, I at least cite my sources in a way that they can be researched and verified.
Are other sources as reliable? Do they tell you where they got the information upon which they are basing their claims? If they don't, why not?
If there are conflicting claims, such as prolife versus prochoice assertions about the death of
, check to see which site provides more reliable sources. In Becky's case, prochoice sites provide only assertions made by other abortion rights organizations or statements made by Becky's parents, who were recruited and coached by abortion-rights organizations. Prolife sites typically quote a crucial source: Becky's actual autopsy report,* which shows her reproductive organs to be perfectly healthy. Which sources can you trust?
Consider also the case of
. Prochoice pages typically post the following unsubstantiated story verbatim:
Pauline Shirley and her six children were living with her mother in Arizona while her husband sought work in California. After an illegal abortion, she began to hemorrhage and was hospitalized. She needed massive transfusions. While Pauline’s mother searched the community for donors, Pauline bled to death.
I looked deeper and found an original and reliable source: Pauline's death certificate, which indicated that she died not from an induced abortion but from a miscarriage. Perhaps a family member saw "incomplete abortion, spontaneous" and didn't understand that a spontaneous abortion is the medical term for a miscarriage. My write-up of Pauline's death actually includes an image of the death certificate. Whose word is more trustworthy: the one based on the actual death certificate, or the unsubstantiated one repeated uncritically?
Never, never take anything you are told without question. Check the original sources.
*I read Becky Bell's autopsy report myself shortly after abortion-rights groups began taking them on speaking engagements around the country. I'm still trying to find an online copy and as soon as I find one I will share it, as I share my other sources.
illegal - doctor
On December 16, 1925, 22-year-old Irish immigrant factory worker Bridget Josephine Masterson died in her Chicago home from a botched abortion. Police were able to question Bridget prior to her death, but she refused to implicate anybody.
Text of O'Malley suicide note
John O'Malley, a boarder and the father of Bridget's baby, committed suicide by gas after learning of Bridget's death. The
printed the text of the suicide note he left behind (errors in original):
I am sorry to do this, but it is called for. Doctor Lady at 301 W. North avenue is a murderer, so it is up to ye to prosecute. She is the cause of me and Miss Masterson to be in our graves today. I request, I ask of ye, is bury me with miss Masterson. Go over & find her at our 1106 Fullerton ave., where I was boarding.
The address John O'Malley noted was the address of 84-year-old Dr.
. It took police several days to locate Hagenow. They arrested her on December 24. It appears that a grand jury indicted her but a judge dismissed the charges on January 5, 1926.
Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of
in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths:
Nina H. Pierce
Hagenow was typical of criminal abortionists in that she was a
Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see
Abortion in the 1920s
. For more on pre-legalization abortion, see
The Bad Old Days of Abortion
"Operation Fatal to Girl; Youth Takes Own Life,"
, Dec. 21, 1925
"Seek Dr. Hagenow in Vain; Call Youth, Suicide, Crazed,"
, Dec. 22, 1925
"Arrest Dr. Lucy Hagenow Again for Girl's Death,"
, Dec. 25, 1925
"Dr. Lucy Hagenow is Freed,"
, Jan. 6, 1926
Homicide in Chicago Interactive
abortionists -- female
abortionists -- male
delay in transport
delay in treatment
district of columbia
former criminal abortionist
illegal - doctor
illegal - midwife
illegal - nurse
illegal - paramedical
illegal - post roe
illegal - unknown
illegal - untrained
national abortion federation
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