Benjamin Munson

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Hugh Benjamin Munson (January 26, 1916 - July 27, 2003) was a physician who performed abortions in Rapid City, South Dakota, both before and after legalization.[1]

Munson was born in Central City, SD to James and Rena Gilligan Munson.[2]

Munson's practice was illegal prior to the Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1973. Until his retirement in 1986, he was the only physician in South Dakota to perform abortions.[1]

Munson opened his practice in 1967. He was arrested in 1969 for performing an abortion on a 19-year-old patient.[3] Munson challenged his conviction, winning in circuit court. The state appealed, and the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled against him. He appealed this decision, which was rendered moot by Roe.[1]

In 1973, Munson discharged a 28-year-old patient after an incomplete abortion. She died of sepsis three days later. Munson was charged with manslaughter. Seventh Circuit Judge Merton Tice, Jr. instructed the jury to acquit, saying that the state's case was inadequate because prosecutors could not prove that Munson intended harm to his patient. Then-Attorney General Bill Janklow contended that Munson's culpability was clear.[4]

Munson died at age 87 in a nursing home in Burlington, Vermont, of complications of Alzheimer's disease.[1]

Munson was the father of one-time Rapid City Mayor Jerry Munson.[1]

H. Benjamin Munson should not be confused with Professor Benjamin Munson of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dr. Ben Munson dies at 87 in Vt.", Rapid City Journal, July 29, 2003 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 14, 2004)
  2. ^ Vermont death certificate #03002706
  3. ^ "S.D. Abortion Law Question to Reach Court During 1971," Huron Daily Plainsman, January 20, 1971
  4. ^ American Medical News August 29, 1977; AMA News December 12, 1977; Minneapolis Tribune 10-21-77