Library Collections: Document: Full Text

Baby Dies; Physician Upheld

From: Dr. Haiselden And The Bollinger Baby
Creator: n/a
Date: November 18, 1915
Publication: The Chicago Daily Tribune
Source: Available at selected libraries

Page 1   All Pages

Page 1:


Autopsy Puts Boy in Class of Defectives

Dr. Reinhard Says Dr. Haiselden Did Right to Allow Death. Kidnapping Attempted

The Bollinger baby is dead. Nature, left to itself, righted its mistake at the German-American hospital shortly after 10 o'clock last night.


Science withheld the scalpel that might have given life to the cripple, even while a woman hovered near the bedside hoping for a chance to kidnap the baby and have some surgeon perform an operation.


In the meantime the world wagged its tongue over two questions:


Is Dr. Harry J. Haiselden guilty of criminal neglect?


Has a doctor the right to withhold the divine gift of life from any human being, no matter how malformed?

Autopsy Vindicates Doctor

At midnight a secret autopsy was performed at the hospital by Dr. H. G. W. Reinhardt, chief coroner's physician. His prompt action was taken because Coroner Hoffman had indicated that unless a post-mortem proved the child, if its life had been saved by an operation, would have been a mental defective, Dr. Haisleden, chief of the hospital staff, might be tried for criminal negligence for his refusal to intervene, even though with the parents' consent.


"I cannot say positively that the child would have been a mental defective," said Dr. Reinhardt after the examination, "but my examination shows that the probabilities are strongly in this direction.

"Haiselden Was Right."

"My own opinion is that Dr. Haiselden was right in not allowing the baby to live. I shall report this to the coroner in the morning with the technical results of my examination.


"One thing is certain. The baby, if it had lived, would have been a paralytic and a cripple all its life.


"It had no right ear and the skip of its right shoulder was attached directly to the right side of the head. The head was abnormally large and set close to the shoulders. Apparently there was no neck. There was a marked curvature of the spine in the dorsal region.


"The really fatal thing, however, was that the descending colon had a blind end. There was a slight hemorrhage in the left half of the brain, which cased paralysis of the right side."


Dr. Patrick Machler assisted Dr. Reinhardt.

Throws a Grim Taunt

Before it died the baby flung a grim taunt in the face of the world that didn't want it. Dr. Haiselden had been told at 7:30 that the baby was dead. Worked out by the strain of the bitter things said by callers at the hospital, the physician left final directions for the care of the body and departed saying that he was going to "lose himself for a few hours."


The coroner's office was notified and Dr. Reinhardt hurried to the hospital. Instruments and an operating table were prepared and the child was brought in, wrapped in a blanket, by a white faced nurse.


When the wrappings were removed the child's arm quivered, one of its arms moved, and it emitted a low gurgle. Dr. Reinhardt stepped back.

But Baby Is Not Dead?

"You don't want me," he exclaimed.


"I am a physician of the dead. You want a different kind of a doctor."


Dr. Reinhardt left the hospital and, unnerved by the mistake. Dr. R. L. Feser of the hospital staff and Miss Beulah Freed, head nurse, took the child into a room adjoining the office. Then, fearing a repetition of the attempt to kidnap the baby they prepared another room on an upper floor.


When they went back to the first floor for the child, it had breathed its last.


Then there was more telephoning, efforts to locate Dr. Haiselden, and another summons to Dr. Reinhardt.

And What of the Mother?

Mrs. Anna Bollinger of 2013 Fletcher street, the mother of the child, was in another room at the hospital. She had never seen her baby, though she had consented to Dr. Haiselden's suggestion that it be allowed to die, and had been told that relatives had christened it Allan Bollinger.


And she was not told that her baby was dead.


"She is weak and has a high temperature," said one of the nurses. "It would not do to tell her tonight."


Miss Catherine J. V. Walsh, a member of the Catholic church of St. Ann de Brighton, was the cause of placing a special guard of nurses about the child early in the afternoon.


She called at the hospital and demanded she be permitted to baptize the infant. Not knowing possibly that it had already been christened by relatives, the hospital authorities granted her the desired permission.


After the baptism had been performed Mrs. Walsh persisted in staying at the child's side. After she had been there three hours Dr. Haiselden became nervous and questioned her.


"Yes," she admitted, defiantly. "I have just been waiting for a chance to take him away. I was hoping I would have a chance to kidnap him. You inhuman surgeon, you are not fit to have the care of any child. You admit an operation might have saved his life. Well, I want to take him to a friend of mine who is a physician and has a heart in his body."

Dr. Robertson Calls

After he had answered more than 200 telephone calls from Chicagoans who approved his course or attacked it bitterly, Dr. Haiselden was told that Dr. John Dill Robertson, commissioner of health, was at the hospital and wanted to see him.

Page 2:


Dr. Robertson examined the child minutely, turning its body over gently in his hands and then faced the other physician.


"You must perform an operation," he said, grimly. "I fear the child cannot live now, but there is only one humane thing to do."

Haiselden Stands Pat

"No," returned Dr. Haiselden, "I will not operate, and neither you nor any other authority can make me. It is a matter of conscience with me. There are 5,000 other physicians that might perform this operation, and they are welcome to it. I shall not interfere, but I shall have no part in it, for I do not believe it would be justice to the human race."


"I could see what his idea was," Dr. Haiselden told a newspaper man after Dr. Robertson had gone. "He wanted to force an operation simply to relieve the city authorities from an embarrassing position. But I have made up my mind, and I do not propose to recede an inch from my position,"


After leaving the hospital Dr. Robertson called at the corporation counsel's office and conferred with Assistant Corporation Counsel Clifford G. Roe. Mr. Roe told him the only action the health department could take would be to hold up the burial permit and refer the matter to the coroner's office for investigation.


Dr. Robertson then announced he would follow this course. Coroner Hoffman, when the case was referred to him, ordered an inquest. This probably will be held today.

Prosecution in Doubt?

Dr. Robertson was told of the child's death by a representative of the TRIBUNE and asked if he would take any further action.


"No," he said. "If there is to be any prosecution in the matter it will be initiated in the regular channels.


"I am not going to grow violent over this case, but I think it's the doctor's business to save life. He is not a judge of who shall and who shall not live. That would open up a dangerous field indeed. It is not he doctor's province to let a life go out because in his opinion it has no chance for normal development. His duty is to save life -- to fight death. He is not a tacit ally of death. He is responsible to make every effort to save a life."


Dr. Robertson refused to express an opinion of what should be done if anything to punish the physician.


"That lies in other hands," he said.


Mr. Roe disagreed with Dr. Robertson on the question as to whether it was wholly Dr. Haiselden's place to decide whether or not an operation should be performed.


"The theory of the courts and of lawyers on this point," he said, "has generally been that the parents of a child have the right to decide whether or not an operation shall be performed. In this case, of course, that phase is clear. Mr. And Mrs. Bollinger gave their consent that he child be permitted to die."

Why He Let Baby Die.

To clinch his argument that the baby was not fitted for life, Dr. Haiselden in the afternoon unfolded the cover lid and disclosed the little form to view as he explained the physical deformities.


"There is no ear on the right side of the head," the doctor said, pointing out the defects. "Neither is there any auditory canal on that side. On the left side the ear is badly malformed. Its sense of hearing is slight.


"There is marked paralysis of the facial and trifacial nerves and the branches of the auditory nerves.


"The chest has a caved appearance owing to deformity of the ribs. The fatal deformity is a closed intestine. A simple surgical operation would open this canal and the baby would live."


"While the brain is apparently normal in size and development," said Dr. Haiselden, "the paralysis of the facial and trifacial nerves would render it subnormal and defective. There is no doubt the child would be defective mentally and morally if allowed to live. It might be criminal. Certainly it would be dependent. It would be a burden to itself and to society."

Wants License Revoked

Dr. George U. Lipschilch, a member of the state legislature, announced in the evening that he will ask the state board of health to revoke Dr. Haiselden's license as a physician.


"I shall go the limit in whatever can be done," he said. "It is a clear case of manslaughter in my opinion. I can see no difference between permitting the infant's death and killing a person in any other way."

Dr. Haiselden Has Two Adopted Daughters

Dr. Haiselden, although a bachelor, has two adopted daughters.


While praise and blame descended upon him for refusing to operate upon the Bollinger baby Dr. Haiselden calmly had dinner with his adopted daughters, Dorothy Riggs and Beulah Hope Wesley, in his comfortable residence at 819 Diversey parkway last night. He has just as well defined convictions about women who cultivate a love for Airedales, pugs, and poodles at the expense of orphans as about defectives and their place in the other world.


"Instead of specializing in Airedales, pugs, and poodles childless women should adopt orphans," said Dr. Haiselden.


"I have seen the pitiful end of institutions for children and they can't be gathered together and do well. Children need individual attention in small groups. "I came to this conclusion long ago. When twenty small children were sent on from New York I secured homes for five of them. Then one of them, a girl of 5, came and sat on my knee. I adopted her as my own. She is now 15 years old and is doing nicely. She is attending day and night school and is anxious to take a place in the world of usefulness. Her name is Dorothy Riggs and I hope to send her through high school and give her a year or two at college.

Page 3:


"But Hope's mother abandoned her in the German-American hospital. Her full name is Beulah Hope Wesley and she was 17 months old. She knows nothing but hospital life. Soon after she was with us we saw at the hospital that we had a very fine baby. Visitors began seeking a home for her and I decided that question by adopting Hope for my own.


"The children are under the care of the matron at the hospital and the house-keeper is very capable. Until last May, when my mother passed away, the children were a comfort to her. I shall adopt more children, from time to time and bring them up as best I know. Hope is already a member of the infant class in the Methodist Sunday school and Dorothy attends church regularly."


While Hope tapped the doctor's face in play the telephone rang and a hysterical woman started speaking her "mind" to the doctor. She continued her violent expression ten minutes after the surgeon moved away, refusing to listen to her harangue.

What One Woman Thinks

"Let a man sized physician operate on that child," demanded the woman. "You're worse than a cannibal, and you should hear what the people are saying about you in the street cars and at the corners. Their talk is very much against you."


"Well, there have been favorable comments, too," replied Dr. Haiselden. Then he turned away.


"I have not slept," he said. "The telephone has rattled every minute of the day and night. The questions are all the same -- wishing to know the condition of the infant and why I refuse to let science save it. Others praise me for my stand. They tell me I have no conscience, and murderer is becoming a cognomen of mine.


"But it is not all the same, as I told Dr. John Dill Robertson, commissioner of health, and I have only my conscience as a guide.


Telegrams, notes, and congratulations along with abuse are showered upon the surgeon from all sides.


"Congratulations for striking a live wire," said Dr. Frank Deacon to Dr. Haiselden over the telephone.


"You are right," said a woman whose husband, the brother of a congressman, is in an insane asylum. "I have tried to have my 14 year old son sterilized, but have almost been kicked out of physicians' offices when I approached the subject."

Page 1   All Pages

Pages:  1  2  3