Sunday, February 08, 2009

Retroactively legal, still as fatal

At 9:00 in the morning, February 8, 1968, 19-year-old Nancy Ward, a student at the University of Oklahoma, died in the ear, nose, and throat clinic of Dr. Richard Mucie of Kansas City, Missouri. The chain of events that cost Nancy her life had begun in November of 1967, when Nancy had told her boyfriend that she was pregnant and wanted an abortion. The boyfriend contacted his father in Kansas City for help. On January 30, 1968, the boyfriend's father contacted Dr. Richard Mucie at his ear, nose, and throat clinic and made arrangements for the abortion.

On February 7, Nancy and her boyfriend flew from Oklahoma to Kansas City and boyfriend visited Mucie at clinic. Mucie examined Nancy and told the couple that he would contact them at their hotel. At 11 p.m., Mucie called and arranged to pick them up and drive them to his clinic. He took Nancy back for the back room while the boyfriend waited in the outer office. About 20 to 30 minutes later, Mucie returned to the front office and asked the boyfriend for money before starting the procedure. Evidence indicates that Mucie then performed a D&C abortion on Nancy.

During the abortion, Mucie made a 1/2 inch tear in Nany's uterus. She went into shock and died at the clinic at about 9 a.m. February 8, in spite of Mucie's attempts to resucitate her. At about 11:30 a.m., Nancy's body was taken to Osteopathic hosptal. An autopsy revealed parts of a 4 1/2 to five month fetus still in Nancy's uterus. She had bled to death.

Mucie was convicted on June 8, 1968, of performing an abortion "not necessary to preserve the life" of the mother. Illegal abortion at that time carried a penalty of 3-5 years, with the sentence to be increased in cases where the mother died. Mucie served 14 months then was released on parole. Parole was set to expire on July 27, 1977. His medical license was revoked on May 4, 1971. After Roe v. Wade overturned Missouri's abortion law, Mucie successfully appealed his conviction and got his license restored under a ruling that made Roe retroactive in Missouri. He was released from propation and his record expunged of the manslaughter-abortion convicted. Ironically, Nancy's fatal abortion was retroactively declared legal on the grounds that the state's "interest in materal health" did not allow Missouri to have prohibited Mucie from performing it.

Robert Dale Crist, who would later go on to kill three of his own abortion patients, was one of the people who testified in Mucie's behalf to get his conviction thrown out and his license restored.

Nancy's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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