Elizabeth Palumbo #1920s #20s #illinois #illegaldoctor

SUMMARY: On May 23, 1929, 24-year-old Elizabeth Palumbo died at West End Hospital in Chicago after an abortion believed to have been perpetrated by Dr. Amante Rongetti.

RongettiOnStand.jpg
On May 10, 1929, 24-year-old German immigrant and homemaker Elizabeth Guenther Palumbo submitted to an abortion, evidently performed by Dr. Amante Rongetti (pictured). She was taken to West End Hospital afterward, and she died there on May 23.

Elizabeth's husband, Joseph, spoke to police about the happenings surrounding his wife's death. He said that about a week prior to her death, Rongetti had diagnosd her with acute appendicitis and urged an immediate operation. Joseph said that when Rongetti was told that Elizabeth was pregnant, he'd said, "well, I'll have to take care of that, too."

Joseph's claim that Rongetti had perpetrated an abortion was bolstered by the testimony of the hospital's owner, Dr. Benjamin Breakstone, who said that his suspicions had been aroused when the instruments Rongetti chose for the purported appendectomy were not appropriate for that surgery.

Rongetti was held by the coroner on June 12. On June 20, he was acquitted.

I was amazed to see Rongetti tied up in this case, because only the previous year he had been sentenced to die in the electric chair for the abortion death of Loretta Enders. Rongetti's attorney clearly had been successful in his bid for a new trial.

Elizabeth's abortion was typical of illegal 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 1920s.

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

ElizabethPalumboBloomingtonILPantagraph27May1929.pngSources:

ElizabethPalumboRongettiHeldValparaisoINVidetteMessenger28May1929.png

ElizabethPalumboManitowcWIHeraldTimes17May1929.png

ElizabethPalumboNewChargesOaklandTrib27May1929.png

ElizabethPalumboSecondChargeDecaturILHerald27May1929.png

RongettiBeatriceDailySun27May1929.png

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