Friday, November 17, 2006

Please join the disability community in remembering the life of baby Allen Bollinger and all the victims of ableism that dominant culture would forget; lives terminated in the name of compassion and care, perfection and progress, tenderness and trust.
Disability History Conservators
Our Lives, Our History: They Matter!
Remembering Baby Allen Bollinger
b. [Nov. 12, 1915, Chicago], d. [Nov.17, 1915, Chicago]
"Baby Bollinger” (first name: Allen) was born to Anna and Allen Bollinger at the German-American Hospital, then located at Diversey and Halsted. The seven lb. baby was diagnosed with multiple physical anomalies [1] and became the first victim in a string of public infanticides of disabled babies committed by the head of staff at the hospital, Dr. Harry Haiselden. The doctor declared the baby a “monster;” a “pitiful bundle of semi-life." [2] Anna Bollinger was encouraged to allow her baby to die by withholding life-saving surgery, "I want my baby. But the doctor has told me...I want him to live-but I couldn't bear to think of how he would suffer…how he would so often curse the day he was born. So I agreed with the doctor."
Many, including Jane Addams and Director of the National Children’s Bureau, Julia Lathrop, denounced the infanticide. Anna’s friend, Catherine Walsh, testified “It was not a monster, that child, it was a beautiful baby”. Yet on Nov. 17, Allen Bollinger, to his mother’s undying grief, and to Chicago’s shame, died as the result of treatment denial. [3]
On the day of Allen Bollinger’s death, the Chicago Tribune newspaper printed the following: “A pink bit of humanity lay upon the white cloth.
Its blue eyes were wide open. Its hair was brown and silky, it dug at its face with little fists. It cried lustily as it drew up chubby legs and kicked out. It seemed quite vigorously informed with life.” [4]
[1] Pernick, Martin S, The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of “Defective” Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures since 1915.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, p3.
[2] Chicago Tribune, 11/17/15
[3] Chicago Daily News, 11/17/15
[4] Chicago Tribune, 11/17/15

Disability History Conservators
Our Lives, Our History: They Matter!