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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.
illegal - midwife
In Worchester County, Massachusetts, on February 6, 1924,
performed an abortion on Wanda Szidzewicz. Wanda developed septicemia after the abortion, and went to a Massachusetts hospital on February 11. She was treated there until her death on February 26.
Testimony at Ida's trial indicated that Ida's profession was midwife, since she delivered at least one baby that Dr. Sawyer and Ida's own husband testified to.
The jury found that Ida used improperly sterilized or non-sterile instruments in the abortion. A key part of the prosecution's case was a deathbed statement by the injured woman. The medical examiner found "no evidence of violence outside or in", but did find evidence that instruments had been used to perform an abortion. He also testified that Wanda had said that Ida Cantor had performed the abortion in question. A Dr. Sawyer testified that he'd told Wanda that she was dying, testimony intended to add credibility to her deathbed statement.
A doctor from the hospital, however, testified that the death and expulsion of the fetus, along with Wanda's injuries, might have been brought about with "an accidental abortion", such as that caused by lifting a heavy box. Hospital records stated that Wanda had lifted a heavy box at some point, "four days before".
Ida's attorney's launched a scattershot and ineffectual defense. Part of it was putting forth Ida's assertion that she she'd had to ask the police why she was being arrested -- she claimed that this proved that she'd not known anything abut Wanda's abortion or death. Her lawyer asked an expert witness if the "constant jarring operation of a sewing machine" could have caused Wanda to miscarry, but never introduced any evidence that Wanda had operated a sewing machine. The defense had tried to place Ida's grandchild's birth certificate into evidence as proof that she'd been at the child's birthday party in New York at the time of the abortion and thus couldn't have performed it. Ida's husband's testimony did nothing to aid her; in fact, it contradicted her.
After her conviction, Ida appealed, but her conviction was upheld. Wanda's widower, Waclaw , also successfully sued Ida.
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see
The Bad Old Days of Abortion
257 Mass. 518, 154 N.E. 251, 49 A.L.R. 958;
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester. Szadiwicz v. Cantor Nov. 24, 1926;
Exceptions from Superior Court, Worcester County; E. B. Bishop, Judge;
Action of tort by Waclaw Szadiwicz, administrator, against Ida Cantor for the death and conscious suffering of plaintiff's decedent; 253 Mass. 509, 149 N.E. 205)253 Mass. 509, 149 N.E. 205;
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester.
COMMONWEALTH v. CANTOR
. Oct. 21, 1925.
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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