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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.
abortionists -- female
Louise Achtenberg was born in Germany in 1849 or 1850. She came to the United States around 1880.
Achtenberg self-identified as a midwife, and was identified in newspaper articles as such, but was twice listed as a doctor in the Homicide in Chicago Database. It's possible that she was a physician, since at that time female doctors who practiced obstetrics were typically identified as midwives, though it is more likely that her self-identification as a midwife was the correct one. Either way, as a physician or as a midwife, she would have been typical of Chicago abortionists of the era.
She was implicated in five fatal abortions The following is the best chronology I can create of Achtenberg's victims, how she was identified at the time, and where she was living.
1900, per city directory, midwife, 4358 Dearborn St.
1904, per city directory, 4346 Dearborn St.
1907, death of
per news, midwife, 4346 Dearborn St.
1909, death of
per Database, midwife
1910, per census, age 61, 6620 Peoria St.
1918, death of
per Database, midwife
1918, non-fatal abortion on Ruth G. Pickling*
per news, age 69
1920, death of
per Database, doctor, 8046 Green St.
per census, age 70, no occupation, 8046 Green St.
1924, death of
per Database, doctor
1930, per census, age 80, 7559 Langley Ave.
I can find no record that she was ever incarcerated.
*"Aged Woman is Acquitted on Murder Charge," Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1918
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