Doris Alexander #1938 #age30 #clintonmay #oklahoma #illegaldoctor #30s #1930s

SUMMARY: Doris Alexander, age 30, died April 20, 1938 from an illegal abortion performed by Dr. Clinton May in San Francisco, CA.

ClintonMay.png
Clinton May
Dr. Clinton E. May had crossed paths with the law when he harbored John Dillinger. In an apparent attempt to keep a low profile, he relocated to California after his release and didn't bother to get licensed to practice medicine, but rather set up housekeeping, and an abortion practice, with a woman in San Francisco using the aliases Cy Dalton and Miss Ralston, Sometimes May introduced "Miss Ralston" as his sister.


On April 12, 1939, a woman called St. Joseph's Hospital and anonymously told a doctor there that a woman had suffered uterine damage in an abortion. The doctor said to send the woman to the hospital immediately.

The woman, 30-year-old Doris Jeffreys Alexander, arrived at the hospital in a taxi. She was in critical condition. There, she told hospital staff, her husband, and the police about the abortion. Based on the information Doris had provided, police raided Clinton May's apartment the following day, finding a makeshift operating table, abundant surgical instruments typically used in abortions, and parts of a human fetus of about three or four months of gestation that was not Doris' fetus. (The court records do not explain who it was determined that the fetus was not the one from Doris' abortion.) Inexplicably, the prosecution never followed up on the obvious abortion that must have been perpetrated in order for May to have had the fetus in his apartment.

May was arrested and taken to the hospital, where Doris tentatively identified him. She never mentioned a woman being involved in the abortion.

FrancesZoffel.png
Frances Zoffel
Doris died on April 20, and police arrested a woman named Frances Zoffel, whom they said was the mysterious "Miss Ralston."

May maintained his innocence of the abortion charges, though he admitted to conspiring with a nurse to practice medicine without a license, though he said that the nurse in question was Evelyn Fontaine and that he didn't even know Zoffel. He said that he was promoting a "feminine hygiene tablet" and treating patients for sexually transmitted diseases.

He said that on April 12 a woman had come to his apartment seeking aftercare for an abortion that another doctor had committed, and that he'd sent the woman to the hospital.

May and Zoffel charged with murder and conspiracy. May was convicted of second-degree murder, Zoffel of conspiracy. Zoffel was able to get a new trial on the grounds that she was not "Miss Ralston" and that there was no evidence linking her to May's practice, although she had been implicated in abortion rings in the past and would be implicated again in the future.

SanMateoTimes28Apr1938.png
May, left, and Zofell, right
Mrs. Alexander's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1930s.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion


SanMateoTimes4May1938.png
Sources:


DorisAlexanderAidToDillingerDoc.png

DorisAlexanderDoctorMayWomanCharged.png
DorisAlexanderKitchenTable.png
SanAntonioLight27Oct1938.png

DorisAlexanderDoctorSent.png

  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
  6. 1950s
  7. 1960s
  8. 1970s
  9. 1980s
  10. 1990s
  11. 19th century
  12. 2000-2009
  13. 20s
  14. 30s
  15. 40s
  16. NAF
  17. abortifacient
  18. abortion
  19. abortion mill
  20. abortion mortality
  21. abortionists
  22. abortionists -- female
  23. abortionists -- male
  24. alabama
  25. anesthesia
  26. arizona
  27. black women
  28. botched abortion
  29. california
  30. chicago
  31. colorado
  32. connecticut
  33. cover-up
  34. death
  35. deaths
  36. deception
  37. delay in transport
  38. delay in treatment
  39. district of columbia
  40. dumped body
  41. ectopic
  42. embolism
  43. falsifying forms
  44. fetal indications
  45. florida
  46. former criminal abortionist
  47. george tiller
  48. georgia
  49. hemorrhage death
  50. hospitals
  51. illegal - doctor
  52. illegal - midwife
  53. illegal - nurse
  54. illegal - paramedical
  55. illegal - post roe
  56. illegal - unknown
  57. illegal - untrained
  58. illegal abortion
  59. illinois
  60. inadequate documents
  61. inadequate equipment
  62. inadequate resuscitation
  63. incomplete abortion
  64. indiana
  65. infection
  66. kansas
  67. legal abortion
  68. llinois
  69. louisiana
  70. maryland
  71. massachusetts
  72. maternal indications
  73. maternal mortality
  74. michigan
  75. mills
  76. missouri
  77. mortality
  78. national abortion federation
  79. new jersey
  80. new mexico
  81. new york
  82. north carolina
  83. ohio
  84. oklahoma
  85. pennsylvania
  86. planned parenthood
  87. pre-roe legal
  88. previous misconduct
  89. prostaglandin
  90. quackery
  91. questionable stories
  92. ru-486
  93. rupture
  94. saline
  95. secret abortion
  96. self-induced
  97. suicide
  98. teens
  99. texas
  100. wisconsin