Barbara Hanson #1930s #20s #texas #illegaluntrained SUMMARY: Barbara Hanson, age 21, died in Boston, MA after an abortion perpetrated by an untrained man.
On October 13, 1939, the body of Barbara Hanson, age 21, was found in a Boston motel room.
Barbara, an office worker who had attended Penn State briefly, had recently graduated from a Boston business school and was living in nearby West Roxbury from State College, Pennsylvania with her married sister, Hilda. The two young women had moved to the Boston area in 1936 after the death of their mother.
Barbara had checked into the motel herself under an assumed name the previous day. At about 2:00 a.m., other guests at the motel complained to management about loud noises, described in some accounts as screams, coming from the room.
A hotel employee detective went to the room and found Barbara dead on the bed. She was tentatively identified by the I.D. found in her purse. The identification was verified by her uncle.
Police found fingerprints on four empty cocktail glasses and an open bottle on the bedside table.
Four men were in the room with her: I. Bernard Gannon, age 23, James Carter, 27, Raymond Fermino, 26, and George F. Norton, 26. Reports say that one of them admitted on the spot to having perpetrated an abortion on Barbara, but the reports to not specify which one.
An autopsy showed that immediately after the abortion, Barbara had suffered a fatal heart attack. Barbara's father, Frederick S. Hanson, a Penn State building engineer, went to New York to claim her body. When questioned by reporters, he said, "I just received worth that Barbara had passed on. I don't know any of the circumstances."
After their trial started, James Carter
and George F. Norton
pleaded guilty to performing the abortion that killed Barbara, and each received a 5-7 year sentence. Bernard Gannon, who was the baby's father, and Raymond Fermino each pleaded guilty as accessories and were sentenced to one year.
During the 1940s, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality from abortion. The death toll fell from 1,407 in 1940, to 744 in 1945, to 263 in 1950. Most researches attribute this plunge to the development of blood transfusion techniques and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion
|Barbara in State College Area HS 1935 Year Book|
- "Attractive Blond Found Murdered in Boston Hotel," Coshocton (OH) Tribune, Oct. 13, 1939
- "Ex-Penn State Co-Ed, 21, Found Dead in Hotel," Pittsburgh Press, Oct. 13, 1939
- "Find State College Girl Dead In Room At Boston Hotel," Danville (PA) Morning News, Oct. 14, 1939
- "Four Quizzed in State College Woman's Death at Boston Hotel," Harrisburg (PA) Telegraph, Oct. 14, 1939
- "State College Girl's Death Being Probed," Altoona (PA) Times, Oct. 14, 1939
- "Four Held in Death of Former State College Girl," Altoona (PA) Times, Oct. 16, 1939
- "4 On Trial In Surgery Death," (Chester, PA) Delaware County Times, Dec. 13, 1939
- "Sentence Four In Girl's Death," Danville (PA) Morning News, Dec. 14, 1939
- 19th century
- abortion mill
- abortion mortality
- abortionists -- female
- abortionists -- male
- black women
- botched abortion
- delay in transport
- delay in treatment
- district of columbia
- dumped body
- falsifying forms
- fetal indications
- former criminal abortionist
- george tiller
- hemorrhage death
- illegal - doctor
- illegal - midwife
- illegal - nurse
- illegal - paramedical
- illegal - post roe
- illegal - unknown
- illegal - untrained
- illegal abortion
- inadequate documents
- inadequate equipment
- inadequate resuscitation
- incomplete abortion
- legal abortion
- maternal indications
- maternal mortality
- national abortion federation
- new jersey
- new mexico
- new york
- north carolina
- planned parenthood
- pre-roe legal
- previous misconduct
- questionable stories
- secret abortion