A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, January 21, 2013

History: Abortion in Monmouth County Newspapers (1883 - 1958)

With all the pressure to make legal abortions difficult if not impossible to obtain, it seems a good time to review the history of illegal abortions in Monmouth County and the many women who were hospitalized or even died after seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy. Below are an assortment of articles from The Matawan Journal and The Red Bank Register between 1883 and 1958 on the topic of abortion.

Ocean Grove druggist C. Huestis was being pursued on charges of seduction and abortion after evading capture, according to the 26 Sep 1883 edition of The Red Bank Register. The 4 Jun 1884 edition of the same paper elaborated on this, saying that Dr Cornelius Hustis had been captured earlier that week, adding that Hustis had been sought on charges placed by his victim, Emma Howell, of Ocean Grove.

The 13 Jan 1892 edition of The Red Bank Register said, "Thomas Timothy, Jr., of Holmdel township, was arraigned on a charge of abortion. He had betrayed his sweetheart, an immigrant girl named Ella Patrula, and had then induced her to take Paris green. He pleaded not guilty and will be tried on Tuesday, January 26th."

The Matawan Journal's coverage of upcoming arraignments in the Monmouth County Courthouse in ithe newspaper's 2 Feb 1895 edition, page 8, column 5 included a case of conspiracy to commit abortion. A woman named Rosalene Brady had sought and apparently received an abortion in Matawan. Those who performed the procedure were to be arraigned in Monmouth County court for conspiring with Ms Brady as well as for committing assault and battery against her.

Mrs Viola Bowers, a housekeeper in Howell, died of blood poisoning due to an abortion, according to the 11 Apr 1907 edition of The Matawan Journal. A coroner's jury was unable to name any culprits while hearing the matter at Freehold, but they were given only limited information. A doctor from Belmar and her employer in Howell were under bond to testify before the grand jury related to the matter.

The Monmouth County physician, in his annual report, cited one death in the county in 1925 due to abortion, according to the 8 Jan 1926 edition of The Matawan Journal.

Mrs Stella Patterson, of 14 West Main Street, Keyport, accused a juror of soliciting a $400 bribe to quash an indictment against her, according to the 20 Dec 1935 edition of The Matawan Journal, front page. Mrs. Patterson had been charged with performing an abortion on Mrs Eleanor Hopson, 24, of Long Branch. Mrs Hopson died in Hazard Hospital in Long Branch due to the alleged operation. The juror was indignant at her charge against him and called her a liar, while the other jurors called it a frame up.

Red Bank PD arrested one person for abortion in 1943, according to the department's annual report, which appeared in the 10 Feb 1944 edition of The Red Bank Register, page 2 column 1.

Patrick Santangelo of Red Bank was indicted in Monmouth County court for an abortion he performed in Red Bank in August, according to the 5 Sep 1946 edition of The Red Bank Register., page 3.

The Monmouth County Medical Society, at its February 1948 meeting, was to hear a presentation on the prevention of abortion and premature labor, according to the 4 Mar 1948 edition of The Matawan Journal, page 3, column 2.

NJ State Police and Bergen and Passaic County Police broke up a $2,500-per-day abortion ring operating weekends in Red Bank and weekdays in Paterson, according to the 16 Aug 1951 edition of The Red Bank Register..

A doctor from Atlantic Highlands was charged with abortion and tax evasion, according to the 9 Apr 1953 edition of The Red Bank Register, page 8 column 5. At the same time, the doctor was involved in a civil suit/counter suit involving the man who managed the doctor's dairy farm.

Anthony "Tony" Siciliano of Eatontown was charged in Monmouth County court of performing an abortion on Miss Jane Harrison of Long Branch, allegedly causing her death, according to the 25 Feb 1954 edition of The Red Bank Register. Harry Neuwirth, of Long Branch, allegedly aided and abetted the abortion by soliciting Mr Siciliano's services. The defendants were seeking a delay in the court proceedings to prepare their defense, according to the 24 Jun 1954 edition of The Red Bank Register. Mr Siciliano was found guilty two years later, as can be found in the 11 Oct 1956 edition of the Register, pg 2. That edition included a second abortion charge against Mr Siciliano, as follows,"Another indictment against Siciliano, charging him with performing an abortion on Miss Joan E. Rollins, 20, Falls Church,. Va., a college student at Lakewood, is also pending. Miss.Rollins died during August, 1954, after an abortion in an Ocean township motel. Prosecutor Vincent P. Keuper has said he would wait for the sentencing of Siciliano and review of the pending Rollins case before deciding whether to proceed with a trial in the second one."

Dr Leopold Brandenburg of Middlesex Road, Matawan, was found guilty in Hudson County court of conducting an abortion 12 years earlier in Union City, according to the 17 Nov 1955 edition of The Matawan Journal. The woman testified that she and her ex-boyfriend visited this doctor in 1943 and he had charged her $200 to conduct the operation. Dr Brandenburg lost his license in 1947 and served 44 months in a federal prison on narcotics charges.

The 16 Feb 1956 edition of The Red Bank Register carried the following story:
"Abortion Ring Trio Arrested
FREEHOLD — Mrs. Harriet (Hattle) Marks, 38, Southard, charged with performing an abortion and being the central figure in an abortion ring, pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was held in $10,000 bail for grand jury action.
   Prosecutor Vincent P. Keuper said Mrs. Marks had performed about 200 illegal operations during the last 20 years for a statewide ring.
   Identified as one of the key persons in the ring is Robert J. Croameans,, 35, Neptune City, who operated a soda fountain in Red Bank and is free in $10,000 bail awaiting a hearing Monday before
County Judge Elvln R. Simill.
   The complaint in this case is based on an alleged abortion performed last Sept 8 in a Wall township motel on Miss Gladys Bennett, 22, Plainfield. Mr. Keuper said Cremeans has been the go-between in many of the cases in which Mrs. Marks allegedly performed the abortions."

Susan Seward was in Monmouth County court charged with performing a $50 abortion in July 1956 on Mrs Helen Leonard, of Montclair, at the New Shrewsbury home of Sarah Jackson, according to the 15 Nov 1956 edition of The Red Bank Register. Ms Seward claimed that Mrs Leonard conducted the operation on herself with the help of Ms Jackson. Mrs Leonard spent three weeks in a Mountainside hospital recovering from the operation.

Mrs Anna Trzaska of South River was charged with performing an abortion in August in a Keyport home on a 21-year-old Keansburg woman, according to the 2 Oct 1958 edition of The Matawan Journal, page 15, columns 7-8.. Trzaska initially pleaded not guilty but ultimately did not contest the charges, according to the 8 Oct 1959 edition of The Matawan Journal, which noted that the Keansburg woman had been hospitalized but responded to treatment and was released.


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