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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
Lucy / Louise Hagenow was a prolific abortionist during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She was born in Germany, most likely in November of 1848, and immigrated to the US in 1869.
She used the names Louise and Louisa primarily in San Francisco, switching to Lucy some time after having relocated to Chicago. And though she was frequently identified -- both by herself and by others -- as Mrs. Hagenow, I've found no evidence that she ever married.
Hagenow first shows up in American records in the 1878 San Francisco city directory, where she is listed as a physician at 812 Howard Street. Although she was clearly living and working in San Francisco from at least 1877 through 1889, she claimed to have been an 1879 graduate of Missouri Medical College.
Ad showing Hagenow in San Francisco in 1877
She was licensed in California and Illinois, and perhaps in Missouri and New York as well, but -- not surprisingly -- when the Chicago Medical Society investigated her they found that there was no Lucy Hagenow ever enrolled in the medical school that supposedly issued her diploma.
She turned up in Santa Clara County, California, where she was arrested in 1885 for practicing medicine without a license. (
Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal, January 1886
The first death attributed to Hagenow was that of
in San Francisco, who died in August of 1886. A total of three trials kept ending in hung juries, the last being in 1888.
Just four months after her case was dismissed, Hagenow was arrested for the death of
, and later that month for the death of a woman identified as either
Alice or Abbie Richards
. Two other people died under
Hagenow's ad in the San Francisco Chronicle, May 28, 1883
suspicious circumstances that month.
died at home after a stay at Hagenow's practice, but for some reason the coroner decided to believe Emma's story that the abortion was self-induced. Franz Krone, and elderly man, died as an inpatient at Hagenow's hospital, and his stash of valuables and cash was never accounted for.
In 1889, the case against Hagenow for Annie Dories' death was dropped after a third hung jury.
Typical Hagenow ad in Chicago
Hagenow relocated to Chicago, where she drummed up business with veiled advertisements in Chicago daily papers, a typical one reading, "Dr. Louise Hagenow; licensed physician; expert; twentyseven years; female diseases; a new scientific, painless method; no operation; good results; 330 East Division street, near Wells; 10 to 4, 7 to 8."
Her ads brought her steady business, and she was implicated in the abortion deaths of
in 1891 and
in 1892. Later that same year she was implicated in the abortion death of
An elderly Hagenow
Hagenow again made headlines in 1896 with the death of
, then in 1899 for the death of
In spite of her legal troubles, Hagenow was making a good living as an abortionist, attracting attention for being the victim of a home invasion robbery that left her elderly mother or sister, Emma Hagenow (sources disagree as to the relationship) beaten into unconsciousness. The thieves had targeted Hagenow's home because they knew she had valuable jewels. In a strange twist of fate, the burglar, George H. Jacks, was sentenced in the same courtroom where Hagenow herself was being tried for Hannah Carlson's death.
A brief hiatus ensued beginning at the end of April, 1900, when Hagenow was sentenced to one year to life in prison for Marie Hecht's death. She was paroled after serving only a year, and during her next period of freedom was held to the grand jury eleven times for patient deaths, including making headlines for a death a year from 1905 to 1907:
On December 17, 1907, Annie Horvatich's death finally won Hagenow a trip to Joliet, ans with it a degree of national notoriety, spawning headlines like "Human Monster is Behind Bars" (Bellingham (WA) Herald, November 30, 1907) and "Old Woman Kills Ten Thousand Persons" (Seattle Times, November 30, 1907). This latter headline's sub-head "Lucy Hagenow of Chicago has Criminal Record that Surpasses Anything of a Similar Nature in World's History," was a bit premature.
Though Hagenow "pleaded innocence in the same hysterical manner that had characterized her actions many times when taken before the authorities for similar offenses," she was sentenced to twenty years, a sentence that lead the Rockford Gazette to declare, "Death Trail is Ended."
The sigh of relief was premature.
Hagenow was freed from Joliet on October 29, 1917, having served less than half of her sentence. She went straight back to business, landing 22-year-old Pauline Albrecht in the hospital fighting for her life. Pauline, writing in pain in her hospital bed, told police, "I didn't know what I was doing. A friend told me of her and I went to see her. I just asked for an examination; and she said she must operate." With no cash on hand, Pauline gave Hagenow a $400 diamond ring.
In her jail cell and pressed by reporters, Hagenow snapped, "I didn't do anything to her. There wasn't anything the matter with her. She asked me for advice and I told her to go home and forget it."
"Yes, I've been arrested before -- what's that to you? Yes, I've served time in Joliet -- why do you blame me for these things? If these fool girls would take care of themselves they wouldn't have these things done, would they?"
"There's lot of midwives in Chicago making a living the way I do. I've been performing operations for fifty years. Since I got out of prison this last time, though, business is booming. Everybody's doing it -- no one wants babies; they come to us -- it's our business to help them."
"I didn't hurt this girl. She went home and caught cold. Then she called me up and told me she had taken some pills. I don't know anything about that, do I? Why arrest me?"
Perhaps she had been arrested because Pauline's ring was found in her possession, which certainly corroborated the ailing woman's story. Fortunately, Pauline survived her ordeal, and Hagenow lay low for a while.
Then, suddenly in 1925, it was as if something snapped and Hagenow began making up for lost time. Five young women lost their lives at Lucy Hagenow's hands that year:
Nina H. Pierce
. Hagenow followed up in 1926 with her final patient death:
That makes a total of 17 abortion deaths I could positively identify for which Hagenow was implicated in some way. She served about a year for the death of Marie Hecht, and was incarcerated for the death of Annie Horvatich until 1917. Though she was sentenced to prison for the death of Mary Moorehead, when she appealed the Supreme Court of Illinois ordered a new trial in 1929. The judge, noting that there was no new evidence, dismissed the case, telling Hagenow, "You had better make your peace with God, Lucy Hagenow. I do not think your months on earth are many."
Hagenow, the Associated Press noted, was nearly deaf and "may not have heard. She muttered something, and shambled laboriously from the room."
As near as I can determine, Hagenow died September 26, 1933, in Norwood Park, Cook County, Illinois. Her occupation on her death record was given as "midwife."
Deaths of her patients must have been a common occurrence, since undertaker W. J. Freckleton, sent by one husband to collect the body of his wife for burial, testified that he had complained to Hagenow how difficult it was to get the body down the narrow staircase; Hagenow had replied that her usual undertaker never had any trouble getting bodies out.
An article entitled, “
Another Victim Points Finger at Dr. Hagenow,” Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1922, notes two seriously ill women hospitalized in Chicago:
"As soon as he learned of Dr. Hagenow's arrest in connection with the Albrecht case, W.H.H. Miller, director of the department of registration and education, ordered an investigation as to how the woman, on parole from the penitentiary for murder, obtained another license to practice. Charges will be filed against her with the state board, which has the power to revoke the license."
"Jacks is Sentenced to Joilet,"
, July 24, 1898
"Death Trail is Ended," Rockford Gazette, April 20, 1908
Daily Alta California, Volume 42, Number 13983, 13 December 1887
Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897
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