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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 16, 1905, 27-year-old seamstress Miss Mary Putnam died at Chicago's
Monroe Street Hospital
from infection caused by an abortion. May had been brought to the hospital two days earlier, in critical condition, and the police were notified.
The Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database seems to have some facts a bit bungled, since it gives the victim's name as Mary and said that she had died at the scene of the crime -- which is highly unlikely, because the party identified, "Dr. Sucy alias Louise Hagenow" is actually Dr.
, who did her abortions on her own premises and even had a preferred undertaker to haul away the bodies.
Hagenow and a man identified as F. E. MacCordy were arrested by the Coroner's Jury on March 16. MacCordy was president of the MacCordy cigar Company and lived in the same building with Mary. He was about 40 years old.
Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of
(June, 1888), and
(August, 1888) 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
During the first two thirds of the 20th Century,
while abortion was still illegal
, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more
external image MaternalMortality.gif
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see
The Bad Old Days of Abortion
Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database
"Man and Woman are Held for Causing Girl's Death,"
, Mar. 17, 1905
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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