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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.
SUMMARY: Minnie Deering, age 23, died in Chicago on January 25, 1891 after an abortion attributed to Dr.
On January 25, 1891, 23-year-old Minnie Deering died at Schaeffer's Hotel in Chicago, evidently due to the effects of carbolic acid mistakenly administered to her by a saloon keeper named Joseph Hoffman. Hoffman reportedly had been involved with Minnie for about four months prior to her death.
Hoffman had checked into the hotel about a week before Minnie's death, saying that his wife would be coming from the country to visit him. She arrived on January 18. She was reported to be sickly and stayed in her room, having her meals delivered to her there.
On January 23, Hoffman brought in Dr. Dietrich to treat Minnie for a fever. Dietrich prescribed an oral medication and an alcohol and carbolic acid solution to be externally applied. He returned the following day to find Minnie's condition improved. About an hour later, Hoffman summoned Dr. Detrich and reported that he'd mixed up the medications and given Minnie the carbolic acid orally by mistake.
When Dr. Dietrich arrived, he found another doctor, W. P. Goodsmith already there. They pumped her stomach and administered counter measures to no avail. Some reports indicate that the County Physician, Dr. Hektoen, had been called in to attend to Minnie. Whoever the doctors were, they pumped Minnie's stomach and made other efforts to save her, but she died at 12:30 p.m.
"At the coroner's inquest it was shown that Miss Deering had visited
for relief from her woes, and that she was suffering from a criminal operation when the acid was administered."
The coroner's jury concluded that ultimately Minnie had died because of a criminal abortion since it had started the chain of events that led to Minnie's death. However, they did not conclusively determine that Hagenow herself had perpetrated it. They ordered her held to a grand jury pending further investigation.
Hagenow's attorney, John C. King, requested a writ to get Hagenow released. Judge Tuthill "readily granted it, saying that the verdict was an admission and an exhibition of ignorance, and that Mrs. Hagenow should not have spent an hour in jail.
Hoffman told the doctors that he and Minnie had secretly married and had secretly come to the city to procure the services of a "Mrs. Hageman," who evidently was Hagenow, since it was she who was arrested.
Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow,
in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths:
Nina H. Pierce
"Jury's Wild Waste of Ignorance,"
, Jan. 29, 1891
"Held to the Grand Jury,"
Chicago Daily Tribune
, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1891
"She Died in Disgrace,"
Chicago Inter Ocean
, Monday, Jan. 26, 1891
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