On the morning of January 2, 1978, 26-year-old Sherry Emry's friends when to check on her. They had left her the previous day, too sick to get up and sleeping fitfully, with chills and sweating. They found her dead, and called the police.
Sherry had been pain since New Years Eve. She had called Water Tower Reproductive Center in Chicago. She had undergone a safe, legal abortion there on December 28. They had assured her that her pain was normal. By New Years Day, Sherry was so sick that her friends tried to get her to seek medical care, but she had kept to her bed and assured them that she just had the flu.
The autopsy performed on Sherry found that her fetus had been implanted in her fallopian tube, which had ruptured. She had bled to death.
The coroner blamed Sherry's death on the fact that on instructions from clinic owner Arnold Bickham (pictured), Water Tower threw fetal remains away without a pathology analysis. Instead, the doctor would just watch the tissue as it passed through the suction tube and try to estimate if it looked like enough for the woman's estimated pregnancy. The police found that Sherry had a receipt from Water Tower indicating a $50 discount. They hypothesized that staff might have noted the lack of a fetus in the aspirator, concluded that Sherry hadn't been pregnant, and given her a partial refund.
Even though, in theory, women who choose abortion should be less likely to die of ectopic pregnancy complications, experiences shows that they're actually more likely to die, due to sloppy practices by abortion practitioners like Bickham. Interestingly, the CDC wrote up Sherry's case as an example of a legal abortion death from 1978, then changed their policy and stopped counting deaths caused by abortionists' failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy as abortion deaths, instead counting them with other pregnancy and childbirth mortality -- thus turning abortionists' fatal mistakes into statistics the abortion lobby could use to argue in favor of the comparative safety of legal abortions.
When Sherry's survivors filed suit against Bickham, he refused to turn over her medical records, first saying that they were privileged, then by claiming that they were his personal property and that Sherry's family had no right to them. Bickham was held in contempt of court for his refusal to cooperate with the courts in the matter.
Sherry wasn't the only woman to die after abortion in a Bickham facility. Sylvia Moore, age 18, died after Bickham shoved her out the door of his clinic New Years Eve of 1986.
For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:
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