George Timanus

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Dr. George Lotrell Timanus was a physician who performed illegal abortions in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area from 1920 to 1951.[1] Timanus was open about his practice, which catered primarily to affluent white women.[2][3]

Timanus and one other abortionist performed an estimated 90% criminal abortions in Baltimore.[1]

In 1950, Timanus was one of the first illegal abortionists to try to use his own arrest to challenge the abortion laws in the United States, as Dr. Aleck Bourne had done in the UK, but his attempt was unsuccessful.[2][3] He was fined $5,000, sentenced to six months in jail, and barred from further practice of medicine.[1]

Timanus participated in the Planned Parenthood Conference on Abortion in America in 1955. He gave a detailed breakdown of his patients, of whom he kept meticulous records. He then lamented that of the 353 doctors who referred patients to him -- some of them, Timanus claimed, with letters recommending abortion -- none stood up to testify for him when he was arrested.[4]

Timanus asked referring doctors to make a written statement that the abortion was necessary because her life would otherwise be jeopardized.[1]

The breakdown of Timanus' patients was as follows[1]:

  • Age 12 - 15: 17
  • Age 16 - 20: 688
  • Age 21 - 25: 1,834
  • Age 26 - 30: 1,268
  • Age 31 - 40: 1,312
  • Age 41+: 91


  • Single: 1,830
  • Married: 2,773
  • Widowed/Divorced/Separated: 607


  • Physicians: 7
  • Wives of physicians: 58
  • Nurses: 270


Dr. Mary Calderone, then Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, noted that Timanus "certainly seemed to be very competent and professional."[5]

According to Dr. Alan Guttmacher, Timanus performed 5,200 abortions with only two maternal deaths -- a record Guttmacher noted as remarkable since Timanus largely practiced in the days predating antibiotics.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Abortion in the U.S.", Time, June 2, 1958
  2. 2.0 2.1 Leslie J. Reagan, When Abortion Was A Crime, University of California Press 1997
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rickie Solinger, The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law, University of California Press 1996
  4. "Abortion in the United States. A Conference Sponsored by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Incorporated at Arden House and The New York Academy of Medicine", by Mary Steichen Calderone
  5. "Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem," Mary S. Calderone, American Journal of Public Health, July, 1960
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