On December 21, 1995, 20-year-old Carolina Gutierrez, already ill from an abortion performed in a Miami clinic two days earlier, could barely breathe. Her family called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital. She arrived at the emergency room already in septic shock.
Carolina had tried over the previous two days to contact staff at the clinic, Maber Medical Center in Miami. She had been suffering pain in her chest and abdomen since the evening of the 19th. She kept getting an answering machine, but her messages were not returned. When somebody finally did answer the phone, they had hung up on her. Carolina had no medical insurance. She needed help. She tried to tough it out, to no avail.
Doctors at the hospital performed an emergency hysterectomy, trying to halt the spread of infection from her perforated uterus. After surgery, Carolina was put into the intensive care unit, where she battled for her life against the raging sepsis.
Relatives cared for her children, a five-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy from a previous relationship, while Carolina's husband, Jose Linarte, spent as much time as he could by her side. "I can't sleep. I try to take my mind off it, but it's impossible," he told the Miami Herald.
His wife lay there on a respirator. All Jose could do was wait and pray.