Two women died of safe-and-legal pre-Roe abortions on the same day.
In early March of 1972, "Colleen" Roe traveled from Michigan to New York for a safe and legal abortion. She was 21 years old and 20 weeks pregnant. Colleen had a history of asthma. During the abortion, she went into respiratory arrest. She died March 8.
"Connie" Roe was 31 years old when she underwent a safe and legal abortion in New York on March 3, 1972. She went into cardiac arrest during the abortion. Attempts to save her life were futile; she died on March 8, five days after her abortion. She left behind one child.
The other safe-n-legal anniversary took place three years later.
Sixteen-year-old Rita McDowell was the daughter of Ethel Kennedy's part-time housekeeper. On March 4, 1975, Robert Sherman performed an abortion on Rita. When Rita was discharged, her mother was informed that she would probably expel the fetus that night.
Rita did not expel the fetus. Instead, she developed a fever. Her mother called Sherman's facility on March 5 to seek care for her daughter. She said that Sherman would not speak to her, and that the receptionist told her to bring Rita in two days later.
In the early morning hours of March 7, Rita awoke screaming, then collapsed in her mother's arms. Doctors at the hospital where Rita was taken removed the fetus, but she died just after midnight on March 8.
An investigation into Rita's death revealed evidence that Sherman deliberately performed incomplete abortions so that he could charge more for follow-up care. Sherman was charged with murder in Rita's death, and prosecutors presented witnesses and evidence that Sherman re-used disposable medical equipment, failed to perform tests to verify pregnancy, failed to do pathology examinations of abortion tissues, allowed a nurse's aide to perform surgery, and falsified medical records.
Sherman claimed to develop heart problems during the murder trial. He plea-bargained, getting the murder charge dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on the perjury charges. The prosecutor defended the plea bargain on the grounds that the felony convictions would block Sherman from ver practicing medicine again. Sherman served two years in a federal prison, then set up a legal abortion practice in Boston.