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, South Dakota 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 after 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 culpable negligence. 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.[1][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]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dr. Ben Munson dies at 87 in Vt.". Rapid City Journal. July 29, 2003. Archived from the original on November 18, 2004. Retrieved October 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ Vermont death certificate #03002706
  3. ^ "S. D. Abortion Law Question To Reach Court During 1971". The Daily Plainsman. Huron, South Dakota. Associated Press. January 20, 1971. p. 17. Retrieved October 22, 2015 – via 
  4. ^ "Early abortion doctor, H. Benjamin Munson, dies". Sioux City Journal. Associated Press. July 30, 2003. Retrieved October 22, 2015. 

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