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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.
Lennis Mae Roach
illegal - doctor
SUMMARY: Lennis Mae Roach, age 25, died on April 24, 1932 after an abortion perpetrated in Oklahoma City by Dr. Richard Thacker.
Dr. Richard Thacker
Dr. Richard E. Thacker
maintained an office and operating rooms in the Terminal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His trial for the abortion death of
brought out testimony concerning the deaths of other patients, including
Robbie Lou Thompson
, and 25-year-old Lennis May Roach, nee Smith.
Mrs. Roach had come to Thacker's office several times, he admitted. Thacker said that Mrs. Roach was in poor health and emaciated, and had a white discharge, indicative of infection, from her vagina. She also, Thacker said, had pains in her abdomen.
Thacker said that he treated her with a tonic and with antiseptic tampons.
He adamantly denied that he had performed an abortion on her. However, other witnessed testified during Thacker's trial for the abortion/murder of Ruth Hall, that Thacker had indeed performed an abortion on Mrs. Roach, causing her death on April 24, 1932. More specifically, Lennis May's husband, F.S. Roach, told the county attorney that Thacker had performed an abortion on her.
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 1930s
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see
The Bad Old Days of Abortion
New York Times; "Abortion Ring", Time, Monday, May 9, 1932;
Thacker v State. 1933 OK CR 119. 26 P.2d 770. 55 Okl.Cr. 161. Decided: 10/27/1933. Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
"Illegal Surgery Kills Seven Girls,"
Asbury Park (NJ) Pre
ss, Apr. 29, 1932
"Jail Osteopath, Seek Doctor in Co-eds' Deaths,"
Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette
, Apr. 29, 1932
"At Least Five Girls Dead After Illegal Operations in Oklahoma City District,"
Mexia (TX) Weekly Herald
, Apr. 29, 1932
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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