It was already after 7 p.m. when Sheryl arrived with the extra cash, Carol said. She knew Sheryl would be in recovery for a long time because of her advanced state of pregnancy, so she moved her to the head of the queue to speed up the process. After Sheryl's safe and legal abortion was completed, Carol met the abortionist, Harvey Johnson, in the supply room to verify that all fetal parts were accounted for. As the fetus was verified complete, and Harvey ran the remains down the garbage disposal, they discussed their plans for the evening. Carol had a date; Harvey was going to have margaritas with his girlfriend, Carol recalled.
Carol proceeded to her office to tend to administrative work. Harvey resumed the evening's abortions.
Later that evening, Harvey called Carol to the recovery room; Sheryl was bleeding heavily. None of the staff had ever seen that much blood. They were all scared, but did their best to calm the patient and get on top of the situation. An aide massaged the patient's uterus to encourage it to contract and reduce the bleeding:
Harvey and I stepped outside the recovery room to talk. .... He looked at his watch. "I'm leaving to meet Fredi at Ninfa's," he said. "Ill call back, and I have my beeper on if you need me. Sheryl will be fine. Just be sure to keep massaging her uterus until the bleeding stops. When her vital signs are stable, dismiss her. I'll see you in the morning."
The staff cleaned Sheryl up as best they could, and brought her boyfriend back to keep her company. Carol finished up her administrative work, checked on Sheryl, and called her boyfriend to cancel their date.
Sheryl's blood pressure fell. Carol paged Harvey, but when he called back, the answering service rather than the clinic answered the phone. Harvey assumed that the problem had corrected itself -- whatever the problem had been. And Carol sat by Sheryl and the boyfriend, waiting to hear from Harvey.
Sheryl wanted to leave, to go home and be in her own bed. Carol was uneasy, but decided to let her go home at about 11:00, admonishing her to call if there was any trouble. So it was Carol, an administrator, who ended up making what should have been a medical decision made by a physician -- a physician who had left the hemorrhaging patient in the care of untrained staff because the margaritas were waiting.
Carol was awakened at 6:00 the next morning by a phone call from Harvey:
"Her boyfriend called me this morning at about three and told me Sheryl was cramping heavily. I told him to put her in a tub of hot water. He called back a little later to say she was unconscious. I told him to get her to [the hospital] at once, and I would meet them there. When she arrived, I started intravenous fluids and a blood transfusion... but she's gone."
Stunned, Carol followed Harvey's instructions to just go about the day's business -- but to pull Sheryl's chart and keep it in her office. They went about their normal routine at the clinic, but Carol's thoughts were elsewhere. At first those thoughts were of the woman's children, left orphaned. But then came near panic over what this death would mean for Carol Everett. Would there be bad publicity? Would the clinic end up closed? Could they recover from this blow?
That night, Carol discussed the situation with Harvey again. He told her that since the boyfriend didn't want the woman's family to know about the abortion, he'd spoken to them and told them that he'd been treating Sheryl for genecolocical problems. They asked him flat out if she'd had an abortion, and he told her no, Carol said. Harvey had done damage control, Carol said. Nobody at the hospital would say anything to anybody about the death; Harvey's private practice and the clinic would be fine as long as they could keep the story from getting any publicity.
And, Carol said, Harvey and his girlfriend carefully edited the patient chart before providing it to the medical examiner's office.
The autopsy found that Sheryl had died of hemorrhaging from a cervical tear. At this news, Carol said, "I went numb:"
We could have saved Sheryl's life! my mind screamed. We only needed to have sutured her cervix. We had everything we needed in the clinic to save Sheryl's life, with one exception -- a doctor willing to take the time to re-examine his patient to determine the cause of the bleeding. But he had a date, and the margaritas were waiting."
Prolifers tend to believe Carol's story. Scoffers dismiss it. But there's another course besides uncritical acceptance and contemptuous dismissal: Looking into the story and seeing if it's true.
At Life Dynamics, we knew we couldn't just use the story out of Carol's book when we did our research for Lime 5. We needed a "secular" source -- something more than a prolifer claiming that something had happened. So, as we did with all prolifers' reports of deaths, we started searching for a public record document to verify Carol's story.
We knew that Carol's abortion facilities were in Dallas. Elsewhere in Blood Money, Carol indicated that as of January of 1982, she was still proud of her clinics, which had recently expanded to doing later abortions. Elsewhere she said that to celebrate the boost in business that accompanied the expansion into later abortions, she bought a new car on March 2, 1982. The next date we can get a clue from is Harvey's marriage, which takes place in February of the following year. The woman Carol called "Sheryl" must have taken place in 1982, then.
We stared searching all public record sources in the Dallas metroplex area for an abortion death in 1982. And we found it:
Autopsy Report Case No. 0120-82-0057 on 34-year-old Shary Graham indicates that she was pronounced dead January 16, 1982, at an emergency room in Dallas. She had a 3cm tear in her cervix. "It is our opinion that Shary... died as a result of a laceration of the uterine cervix. By history, she had undergone a termination of pregnancy procedure the day prior to the death. Evidence of bleeding included large amounts of blood on three cloth robes that accompanied the body, and hemorrhage beneath the outer covering of the uterus."
The address of the facility where Shary had her abortion was the address of one of Carol's clinics.
Of course, no public record document is going to verify the story of the pitcher of margaritas. But when we consider what excuses other abortionists had for leaving patients with no medical supervision, the pitcher of margaritas is credible:
- John Biskind left Lou Ann Herron without medical supervision so that he could keep an appointment with a tailor.
- No reason was given for Abram Zelikman's decision to leave the hemorrhaging Eurice Agbagaa in the care of a receptionist.
- Tommy Tucker seems to have left Angela Hall with no doctor to care for her because he'd had a fight with the nurse about whether or not to call an ambulance.
- Nareshkumar Gandalal was reprimanded by the Oklahoma medical board for leaving a patient "in post-operative condition in the treatment room under anesthesia" on June 10, 1989, so that he could take a friend to the airport.
Carol places the responsibility for the death of the woman she calls Sheryl not only on abortionist Harvey Johnson's shoulders, but squarely on her own. Carol herself began laying the groundwork for what would happen to "Sheryl" with a business decision to do later abortions because of their higher profit margin.
For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:
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