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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.
At about 9:00 on the morning of Sunday, September 25, 1892, 30-year-old Sophia Kuhn "died in great agony" at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She had been brought there by ambulance the previous evening from
Dr. Louise Hagenow's
practice at 882 West Madison Street.
"That the woman died from the result of a most cruel criminal operation is fairly well established, and an inquest to-day will beyond question reveal the details of what has every appearance of being little less than a butchery."
Dr. Lucy Hagenow
Sophia had been taken to Hagenow's establishment the previous Thursday from the home of Dr. Ellen (aka Mrs. M. E.) Hellieu. In a statement before her death, Sophie insisted that she had only gone to Hellieu after taking ill from an abortion done elsewhere, and that neither Hellieu nor Hagenow had been responsible. Sophie went as far as to say that she had only been at Hellieu's home because she'd taken ill in the street nearby.
Hellieu had reportedly gone to the office of Dr.s W. H. Knoll and C. T. McKinney on Saturday, summoning them to Hagenow's facility.
"The details of the condition in which we found her are horrible," Dr. Knoll said. They notified the police, provided what care they could, and had Sophia transported to the hospital. "I do not care to say what resulted in her humble state or when it might have been brought about, although there were reasons for concluding that whatever caused the woman's dying state had been of recent occurrence. I never saw anything like it and somebody must have erred terribly."
Louise Hagenow and Ellen Hellieu were arrested. Sophia's father identified them as responsible for his daughter's death. Sophie, who had been separated from her husband for about two years, had been living with her sister, Mrs. White, at the time of the pregnancy and abortion. Sophie's brother-in-law, William White, said, "My sister-in-law left home about two weeks ago. She was then complaining of being sick and in trouble. I am certain she did not go to Mrs. Hagenow and the other doctors of her own accord. There was a man in the case who must have persuaded her to submit to an operation."
While police were interviewing Hagenow, who also used the name Lucy Hagenow, at her practice, Hellieu "rushed breathless into her apartments. When she saw Dr. Hagenow's interviewer, she exclaimed: 'Don't say anything!' Then she sank exhausted upon a sofa."
Hagenow had already been implicated in the abortion deaths of
in San Francisco before relocating to Chicago in 1890.
She was implicated in the abortion deaths of
in 1891. Shortly after Sophie's death, Hagenow was again arrested, this time for the abortion death of
. Further abortion deaths associated with Hagenow's Chicago practice include:
Nina H. Pierce
"Female Physicians Held," Chicago Inter-Ocean, Sept. 27, 1892
"Points to an Awful Crime," Chicago Inter-Ocean, Sept. 26, 1892
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