SUMMARY: Loretta Wilson, age 19, died on December 23, 1934 after an abortion perpetrated in New York by Dr. John Becker, Jr.

Loretta Wilson Daily_Capital_News_Sat__Dec_29__1934_.jpg
On Christmas day of 1934, the nude body of a young woman was found under a pile of leaves in a thicket near a highway south of New York City. One source says that truck drivers found the body, another says it was spotted by two truck drivers.

The young woman was estimated to have been dead between 12 and 24 hours. Eventually the date of death was determined to be December 23.

Laura and Joseph Devine, whose 19-year-old daughter, Loretta Wilson, had been missing since December 19, contacted authorities and were able to positively identify the body. An autopsy revealed that she had bled to death from complications of an abortion

Loretta had left home at noon on the 19th, telling the landlady that she was going to see a doctor. Her husband of two years, William, knew better. Though initially he'd denied even knowing that Loretta had been pregnant, he later said he'd paid Dr. John H. Becker Jr., age 52, $55 for the abortion. He added that his wife's friend, Kay Dinger, had been present when the transaction took place.

William, whose profession is alternatively given as a chauffeur and a truck driver, came home from work on December 19 to find Loretta not home. He assumed that she had gone to Becker for the abortion since he'd made the appointment for the 19th. He went to Becker's office and learned that she wasn't there, and the next day he reported her missing.

Becker admitted to having been paid $2 for examining Loretta on December 17, but denied perpetrating the abortion. He said that she was supposed to return on the 18th but failed to show up. However, his assertion that he'd not seen Loretta after the 17th was challenged by a witness who picked Becker out of a lineup of seven men as the one he'd seen standing by a car near the area where Loretta's body was found.

Becker was found guilty and sentenced to between 18 months and three years in Sing-Sing.

One more note: Loretta's abortion was typical of pre-Roe abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

During the 1940s, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality from abortion. The death toll fell from 1,407 in 1940, to 744 in 1945, to 263 in 1950. Most researches attribute this plunge to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

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

  • New York Times 12-25-34, 12-26-34, 12-27-24
  • "Arrest Doctor After Grilling In Girl's Death," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 26, 1934
  • "Doctor Denies Part In Illegal Operation," Brownsville Herald, Dec. 26, 1934
  • "Plea of Not Guilty Put In By Dr. Becker," Independent Record, Dec. 27, 1934
  • "Body of Nude Girl is Found," (Reno) Nevada State Journal, Dec. 25, 1935
  • "Doctor Identified as Near Scene of Nude Girl's Death," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Decl 28, 1934
  • "Dr. Becker Gets Sing Sing Term," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jun. 21, 1935
  • "Denies He Operated," Daily Capital News, Dec. 29, 1934
  • "Young Woman Dies After Operation; Physician Held," Pittston Gazette, Dec. 26, 1934
  • "Doctor Nabbed in Girl's Death," Shamokin News Dispatch, Dec. 26, 1934

Loretta Wilson Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Wed__Dec_26__1934_.jpg

Loretta Wilson.png

Loretta Wilson Independent_Record_Thu__Dec_27__1934_.jpg
Loretta Wilson Index_Journal_Wed__Dec_26__1934_.jpg

Loretta Wilson Brownsville_Herald_Wed__Dec_26__1934_.jpg

Loretta Wilson Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Wed__Dec_26__1934_(1).jpg

Loretta Wilson Shamokin_News_Dispatch_Wed__Dec_26__1934_.jpg

Loretta Wilson Pittston_Gazette_Wed__Dec_26__1934_.jpg

Loretta Wilson Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Fri__Jun_21__1935_.jpg

Loretta Wilson Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Fri__Dec_28__1934_.jpg

  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
  6. 1950s
  7. 1960s
  8. 1970s
  9. 1980s
  10. 1990s
  11. 19th century
  12. 2000-2009
  13. 20s
  14. 30s
  15. 40s
  16. NAF
  17. abortifacient
  18. abortion
  19. abortion mill
  20. abortion mortality
  21. abortionists
  22. abortionists -- female
  23. abortionists -- male
  24. alabama
  25. anesthesia
  26. arizona
  27. black women
  28. born alive
  29. botched abortion
  30. california
  31. chicago
  32. colorado
  33. connecticut
  34. cover-up
  35. death
  36. deaths
  37. deception
  38. delay in transport
  39. delay in treatment
  40. district of columbia
  41. dumped body
  42. ectopic
  43. embolism
  44. falsifying forms
  45. fetal indications
  46. florida
  47. former criminal abortionist
  48. george tiller
  49. georgia
  50. hemorrhage death
  51. hospitals
  52. illegal - doctor
  53. illegal - midwife
  54. illegal - nurse
  55. illegal - paramedical
  56. illegal - post roe
  57. illegal - unknown
  58. illegal - untrained
  59. illegal abortion
  60. illinois
  61. inadequate documents
  62. inadequate equipment
  63. inadequate resuscitation
  64. incomplete abortion
  65. indiana
  66. infection
  67. kansas
  68. llinois
  69. louisiana
  70. maryland
  71. massachusetts
  72. maternal indications
  73. maternal mortality
  74. michigan
  75. mills
  76. missouri
  77. mortality
  78. national abortion federation
  79. new jersey
  80. new mexico
  81. new york
  82. north carolina
  83. ohio
  84. oklahoma
  85. pennsylvania
  86. planned parenthood
  87. pre-roe legal
  88. previous misconduct
  89. prostaglandin
  90. quackery
  91. questionable stories
  92. ru-486
  93. rupture
  94. saline
  95. secret abortion
  96. self-induced
  97. suicide
  98. teens
  99. texas
  100. wisconsin