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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 - doctor
On March 2, 1906, Miss Lola M. Madison, a stenographer from Salt Lake City, Utah, died from an abortion at
in Chicago. She was 28 years old. A recent graduate of Merrill Academy, she went to Chicago on the advice of a friend and made straight for Lucy Hagenow's practice, where she remained for several days.
Somehow, her sister, who was a nurse, learned where Lola was and went to check on her. She found Lola seriously ill, and had her brought to the hospital before notifying the police.
As she lay dying, she refused to identify the man who had gotten her pregnant, though Chicago police deduced that he was "a prominent lawyer and former federal official of Utah."
The location of the offense is listed as a medical facility, and it might be that the abortion was actually performed there, at the hospital However, this is not likely, since the woman identified as responsible for Lola's death was a known abortionist who plied her trade on her own premises and even had a preferred mortician to haul off her dead.
Police Sargent George W. Pearsall testified in a 1908 trial for Hagenow that he's known her under the name of Ida VonSchultz. He saw her at a second floor medical practice at 480 North Clark, with a sign on front of the building reading, "Dr. Lucy Hagenow, Physician and Midwife" and "Dr. Ida VonSchultz, Physician and Midwife." Pearsall met Hagenow at the door and asked if she was Dr. Hagenow. She said no, she was Von Schultz. The sergeant took Hagenow to Lola's room at Passavant Hospital about five o'clock on the afternoon of February 20. He asked Lola, "Do you know this woman?" To which Lola replied, "Oh, yes, that is the doctor." The police captain asked for clarification and Lola identified Hagenow as the doctor who had performed the abortion at her office on Clark Street. Hagenow stepped up to the side of the bed rubbed the Lola's face with her hand and said, "Don't talk too much, my girl, it won't do you any good" Hagenow then bent over and whispered something to Lola that the police were unable to hear.
Abortionist Lucy "Louise" Hagenow
, a physician and known abortionist, was arrested and held by the coroner's jury March 3. She was listed as a midwife on the source document, but at that time female physicians were often identified as midwives.
Because of technical issues with the indictment, the case was dropped on July 22, 1907. Salt Lake City papers make much of the fact that the victim was the sister of Mrs. Annie Bradley, who at the time of Lola's death was facing charges in Washington regarding the murder of Senator Brown.
Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of
in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths:
Nina H. Pierce
Hagenow was typical of criminal abortionists in that she was a
Note, please, that with general public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see
Abortion Deaths 1900-1909
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see
The Bad Old Days of Abortion
Sources: "Hagenow Case on Trial,"
Salt Lake Herald, November 27, 1907
Homicide in Chicago Interactive
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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