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Arizona Firsts: Dr. Rosa Goodrich Boido, M.D.

Rosa Goodrich Boido was Arizona’s first licensed female physician.

Rosa Goodrich Boido was born in Navasota, Texas, Feb. 24, 1870, to Briggs Goodrich and Rosa Meador. Briggs Goodrich served as Arizona Territory’s attorney general from 1887-1888, and his brother, Ben Goodrich, represented Cochise County as a member of the Territorial Legislature in 1909.

At the age of 15, Rosa’s parents sent her to the Pacific Methodist College in Santa Rosa, Calif. After graduation she studied medicine at the prestigious Copper Medical College (now known as Stanford University Medical School). While attending, she married fellow medical student Norberto Lorenzo Boido on Dec. 14, 1893.

After Rosa received her medical degree in 1895, she and Lorenzo moved to Guatemala to practice medicine. Four years later, they moved to Arizona and lived briefly in Benson. Lorenzo homesteaded 160 acres and served as a surgeon for the Southern Pacific Railroad and the New Mexico & Arizona Railroad. Rosa worked as the examining physician for various fraternal societies, including the Knights of the Maccabees and the Knights and Ladies of Security. She also served as president of the Pima County Suffrage Club and as a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

In 1912, the Boidos moved to Phoenix, where they became pioneers in the use of “twilight sleep,” a narcotic that helped women “lapse into forgetfulness” during childbirth. They opened a hospital at 300 E. Adams and called it the Twilight Sleep Hospital.

Five years later, problems in the Boidos’ marriage surfaced. Lorenzo was charged with two counts of “bastardy” and one count of “willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, knowingly and corruptedly” offering Judge Charles D. Wheeler $200 as a bribe to persuade the judge to dismiss the “bastardy” proceedings.

The following year, things got worse when Rosa was criminally charged with performing an abortion on 15-year old Dora Juhl. Rosa went to trial, while Lorenzo, who probably would have gotten nothing more than a light sentence and a fine for his crime, fled the country.

Rosa’s attorneys were W.L. Barnum and her uncle Ben Goodrich, and the presiding judge was Rawghlie C. Stanford. During the trial, the courtroom was continuously full of people with many of them having to stand.

Dora Juhl testified that during the early part of January 1918, she had gone to the Twilight Sleep Hospital to tell Rosa that she was pregnant and wanted an abortion. Rosa agreed to perform the abortion upon receipt of $50. Dora got the money from Louis Schlicker, the man who had gotten her pregnant. When she returned to the Twilight Sleep Hospital a month later, Rosa told her that because the pregnancy was in an advanced state it would now cost $100.

Dora paid the extra $50 and entered the hospital on Feb. 6, 1918. The following morning she received a hypodermic injection and lapsed into unconsciousness. Louis’ brother, Carl Schlicker, found out about the abortion and called the police. Officers told him to go to the Twilight Sleep Hospital and see if Dora was still there. When Carl arrived, Rosa told him that the operation was a success, and Dora could go home in a few days.

Carl reported his conversation with Rosa to the police, and they went to the hospital and arrested her. When doctors examined Dora, they discovered that she was still carrying the fetus. She was sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital and the fetus was expelled.

Ben Goodrich presented closing arguments for the defense and Assistant Maricopa County Attorney Robert Jarrett presented closing arguments for the prosecution. The jury deliberated for seven hours and found Rosa guilty, but recommended clemency.

Judge Stanford sentenced Rosa to serve a term of at least two years and not more than three years in the Florence State Prison. She entered the prison April 23, 1918, and was paroled two months later on June 25, 1918. Two years later on Oct. 5, 1920, Rosa’s Arizona medical license was revoked for unprofessional conduct, and on the same date, Lorenzo’s license was revoked as well.

Not long after that, Rosa moved to California to live with her daughter, while Lorenzo was living on a ranch in Cucurpe, Sonora. They eventually divorced, and Lorenzo later remarried. Rosa received a license to practice medicine in California, but in 1930, that too was revoked.

On Oct. 27, 1959, Rosa died in Kauai, Hawaii, at the home of her grandson Dr. Vernon Boido. She was cremated, and her ashes were scattered along two walls of Vernon’s home.

Today, the Phoenix Civic Plaza occupies the land where the Twilight Sleep Hospital once stood.

— Jane Eppinga. Sources: Who’s Who in Arizona, 1916; Arizona Republic; Alohalani Boido family records. Photo courtesy author.

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