Sunday, January 31, 2010

1972: Antiquated abortion method kills teen

Fifteen-year-old Gwendolyn Drummer was a student at Harry Ellis High in Richmond, California, when she was admitted to Doctor’s Hospital of Pinole for a safe and legal abortion, to be performed January 28, 1972. Her doctor chose the saline abortion method.

These abortions are performed by replacing amniotic fluid with a strong salt solution. In the decades after WWII, saline was being abandoned in countires where abortion was legal, in favor of safer methods. But as laws loosened up in the US, American docors adopted the method. A British study published in 1966 found that the saline would enter the mother's bloodstream and cause brain damage. Swedish researchers noticed an unacceptably high rate of complications and deaths. Sweden and the Soviet Union followed Japan in abandoning saline abortion as too dangerous by the late 1960s.

Gwendolyn's doctor injected the saline into her utuerus. It got into Gwendolyn's blood stream, just as British, Japanese, Soviet, and Swedish doctors had repeatedly warned it could do. Gwendolyn suffered organ damage. She developed pneumonia, and died on January 31.

Hear Gwendolyn's story in a minute:

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.


OperationCounterstrike said...

Yep, that's why we don't do saline abortions any more.

GrannyGrump said...

I guess American abortionists are slower on the uptake than other abortionists, since Japan and Sweden and the Soviet Union had abandoned the technique before abortion was even legalized on a widespread basis in the US. Or is it that American abortionists don't read the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology? Or the Journal of the American Medical Association? Or the British Medical Journal? Maybe those publications have too many big words for American abortionists.

OperationCounterstrike said...

Christina, that's a really good question with an important answer, which is:

Which technique is safest depends on who's doing the operation.

It's sort of like in contraception, the difference between "perfect-use" failure rate and "typical-use" failure rate. There's a GENERAL ordering of procedures, and then there's EACH INDIVIDUAL PRACTICIONER'S PERSONAL ordering.

For instance: suppose crosswise incisions are more dangerous overall, but you (a surgeon) have been doing crosswise incisions all your life and never have done anything else. Then, IN YOUR HANDS crosswise IS the safest procedure. By doing it all your life you've gotten to be expert enough that you know how to avoid the disasters which other, less-expert people encounter when they try to do crosswise incisions. If you were to change your procedure, you'd kill more people learning to do vertical incisions than you would if you went on with your crosswise incisions.

That's why medicine is conservative: people have good reasons to go on doing what they have been doing. The timing of changes in different places has more to do with generational turnover than rational policy-design.

OperationCounterstrike said...

SegaMon, what other career does one need?

OperationCounterstrike said...

Christina, it's also worth remembering that even saline abortions are considerably safer than giving birth.

SegaMon said...

OC, are you sure you're not a garbage collector?

I'm just trying to find out what kind of credibility you have.

For example, I'm a new grad Registered Nurse who worked as Licensed Vocational Nurse at a local hospital. This gives me some credibility in regards to patient care. It also gives me a basis of some important scientific knowledge. I don't have that much experience yet, but I will certainly be gaining more as time goes on. My career, education, job, and experience all help form my knowledge base used in arguments and opinions.

I'm trying to understand where you are coming from. If all you do for a living is giving and/or receiving blow jobs then it makes sense as to why your arguments lack needed logic and critical thinking.

Throw me a bone here, OC.

GrannyGrump said...

OC, even the CDC noted (with their incomplete abortion mortality numbers, so the real risk is higher) that at 16 weeks, abortion was (by their under-reported abortion mortality rates) equal in risk to childbirth, and the abortion risk doubled every two weeks.

Saline abortions weren't done before 18 weeks. So at MINIMUM -- even if we assumed for the sake of argument that the CDC estimate of abortion mortality was accurate -- the very earliest saline abortion would still be twice as risky as childbirth, a 20 week saline abortion four times as risky, a 22 week abortion 8 times as risky, and a 24 week abortion 16 times as risky.

So even by the CDC's numbers which underestimate abortion risk, your claim about saline abortion's risks is pure unmitigated bullshit.

OperationCounterstrike said...

I'd have to look at those numbers. Source to online report, please.

And the blog-owner doesn't like dirty language.

Rachael said...

I'm writing an article for my blog addressing continuing unsafe abortion practices in the United States
Legal but No Safer - Shoddy Abortion Practices Continue in the U.S.
And I need more information on abortion providers who've been in trouble with the law, had their medical license suspended or revoked, or had multiple lawsuits for medical malpractice or neglect. So far, I've covered Andrew Rutland, Pierre Renelique, Alberto Hodari. Who are some others I can cover?

OperationCounterstrike said...

Rachel, Brian Finkle springs to mind.

But you should be aware that your article will be worthless if all it does is list individual bad cases. Anyone can make a list of bad practicioners in any speciality. You could make a long list of incompetent ophthalmologists, crooked ophthalmologists, even unsanitary ophthalmologist, but such a list would not prove anything about ophthalmology in USA. That's what we call Anecdote-Recital Strategy Exercise, correctly abbreviated ARSE.

If your article is gonna be about aboriton in USA generally, then you need NUMBERS. You need to find out, HOW COMMON are the disasters, relative to the number of safe, uneventful abortions done in USA? Also, is malpractice MORE COMMON among abortion docs than in other medical specialities in USA? If you're focusing specifically on people who have multiple lawsuits and have dodged disciplinary action, again, you need to find out how common that is. Every oversight system has some leaks. You also need to say how well other specialties are disciplined and compare.

My bet is: you will find that both malpractice-wise and oversight-wise, abortion is no better and no worse than any other specialty.

Mario A. said...

No, i'm not having an abortion and please don't leave your opinions on how wrong abortion is. But I was curious, how do they choose which method of abotion a woman has? the medication or the vacuum process an yes sildenafil it work i`m pregnant

GrannyGrump said...

I'm sure each abortion practitioner develops his own preferences for how to kill the unborn, and will tend to steer patients toward his preferred method. Most seem to prefer using chemicals when possible because it's easier then to pretend that what they're doing isn't killing.