Twenty-six-year-old Yvette Poteat had an abortion performed by Dr. Marion D. Dorn Jr. at The Ladies Clinic in Charleston, South Carolina on July 16, 1985.
A lawsuit filed by her surviving mother and sister says that Dorn did not examine the tissue he removed from Yvette's uterus, and did not notify Yvette that the lab report showed no fetal or placental tissue in the specimen.
On July 27, Yvette experienced "sudden, sharp, constant lower abdominal pains," and was taken to a hospital by her fiancee. Yvette was admitted to the emergency room, where she informed the doctors about the abortion. She was mistakenly diagnosed as having Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, was given medication, and was discharged after several hours with instructions to seek follow-up care in two days.
Throughout July 28, Yvette experienced continued pain. She called the hospital but "was instructed not to return but to give the medication a chance to work."
Early in the morning of July 29, Yvette collapsed at home. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She went into cardiac arrest due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that both Dorn and the hospital staff had failed to diagnose, and was pronounced dead 6:15 a.m.
The lawsuit noted that Yvette's mother "suffered the loss of the financial support of her daughter, extreme mental shock and suffering, wounded feelings, extreme grief and sorrow, has lost the love and affection and companionship of a loving and wonderful daughter, has been deprived of the use and comfort of her society."
The suit against Dorn, the clinic, the hospital and hospital doctors won a small $23,000 plaintiff verdict in 1987.
In theory, women with ectopic pregnancies should be less likely to die if they seek abortion than if they intend to carry to term, because the abortion staff should be able to readily detect -- and appropriately treat -- the ectopic pregnancy. But in practice, these women are more likely to die if they seek abortions, because the symptoms of the ectopic pregnancy are attributed to the abortion, leading to misdiagnosis.