Jill Stanek got a letter from Monty Patterson, father of Holly Patterson, whose life was cut short at the age of 18 from a safe, easy chemical abortion. Mr. Patterson also provided a link to this Ladies' Home Journal article telling the family's story.
I'll give you a condensed version of what Holly's father had to say, then turn to the Ladies' Home Journal article for more salient points:
Angie Jackson's attempt to "demystify" medication abortions with pills can send the wrong message to women and young teens with respect to their health and well being.
Her message, "It's not that bad, it's not that scary, you too can have an abortion if you want one," approach is not always the case when it comes to terminating an unplanned pregnancy.
Let's not forget about what happened to 18-year-old Holly Patterson .... She died a tragic death after 7 days into her procedure. She was in perfect health and a pinnacle of fitness. ....
Try to imagine the thoughts that went through Holly's mind .... I'm positive all she could think about was the basic instinct to survive her hopeless ordeal. I'm sure it wasn't the information she had received from Planned Parenthood that the procedure was "a safe option for ending pregnancy in the privacy of your home and it comes in an easy-to-take pill form."
Angie is an adult who made a conscious decision based on the resources and information she obtained. To share her reality experience with others is exercising her rights of freedom of speech and press.
However, from a parent's perspective, she might be influencing teenagers, some as young as 14 years old, that it is simply "no big deal." It is a big deal....
Now, to turn to some very interesting points from the Ladies' Home Journal article:
Holly was worsening, she needed a ventilator, her blood pressure was dropping. He heard the panicked words "code blue!" and was hustled from the room. He stood outside the door with his fiancee, his son, Holly's only sibling, and her boyfriend. All of them were crying and calling out: "Don't give up! We love you, Holly!" Holly's mother, Debbie, who was long divorced from Patterson and lived in Southern California and whom he'd phoned earlier, was still on a plane. She would arrive too late.
Mr. Patterson had known nothing about RU-486, nothing about abortion drugs. None of it had been on his radar until he watched his beloved only daughter die before his helpless eyes.
So much for the idea that legal abortion doesn't affect you unless you personally get it into your head, on your own initiative, to participate.
But in April 2002, both Danco Laboratories and the FDA had acknowledged some real problems with the drug. A small number of women had suffered ruptured ectopic pregnancies after mifepristone was used (inappropriately) for termination; one of them had died. In addition, a young woman with a family history of heart disease had suffered a nonfatal heart attack and two women had developed bacterial infections. One of those women, a 26-year-old participating in drug trials in Canada, had died (Canadian drug trials were halted afterward). And it wasn't at all clear that that was all. It's voluntary for physicians to report a patient's bad drug reaction to the FDA; moreover, when complications occur days afterward the connection isn't always made. The FDA itself has estimated that no more than 10 percent of all adverse drug effects are ever reported.
One of the articles he read in a medical journal described the symptoms and rapid deterioration of the young woman who'd died during mifepristone drug trials in Canada. "I said, 'This sounds just like what happened to Holly!'" Patterson recalls. He began sending letters to the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services: Was what these studies claimed true? Why weren't patients warned of possible complications from the pill? Why hadn't the ER doctors who'd treated Holly known more? ....
.... By April Patterson learned that Holly had died from a uterine infection that had flooded her system with toxins. By October the strain of bacteria had been identified: Clostridium sordellii.
.... It's most commonly found in soil but for unknown reasons about 10 percent of women also harbor the bacteria in their intestinal and genital tracts. Normally it causes them no problems. But in just a handful of documented cases it has made its way to an internal organ, where it has flourished and produced toxins that have caused tissue death, affected the body's ability to maintain blood pressure, sent patients into shock, and killed them with frightening speed. A Clostridium sordellii infection can also fail to cause one of the cardinal signs of trouble that every emergency room doctor looks for -- a fever -- and its symptoms, such as abdominal pain and nausea, are the same as those to be expected after a medication abortion. ....
Then came the real shocker: The rare bacterium responsible for Holly's death was the same one that had killed the Canadian woman in 2001.
So Mr. Patterson was seeing happen with RU-486 patients with this type of infection the same sort of dynamic the CDC long noted with abortion patients who had ectopic pregnancies. Symptoms that should be cause for alarm and immediate treatment are dismissed as normal and expected lingering effects from the abortion. And since the underlying cause -- be it Clostridium sordellii or ectopic pregnancy -- isn't identified and treated, death results.
On November 15, 2004, the FDA announced it was strengthening the warning label for mifepristone in order to include new information on the risk of serious bacterial infections, sepsis, bleeding, and death and to advise physicians to watch patients carefully for signs of infection, excessive bleeding, and ectopic pregnancy.
Closing the barn door after the horse escaped.
And Monty Patterson managed to track down the mother of another RU-486 victim, Chanelle Bryant:
Lynn Bryant's daughter, Chanelle, of Pasadena, California, had been 22, a third-year college student with plans to become a teacher, and like Holly had been vigorous and healthy when she became pregnant. Her fiance was in the Marines, and on January 8, 2004, she chose to terminate their unexpected pregnancy with mifepristone and misoprostol. On the 13th she went to a local emergency room with bad cramps. She called her mother to say that she'd been admitted to the hospital but conveyed no sense of urgency. She was still in pain the next morning, and her mother made plans to visit on her lunch hour. By noon Chanelle called to say the pain had become extreme, and by the time her mother arrived, after 1, she'd been moved to the critical care unit. "They told me that her vital signs had dropped and that she had an infection, but that they'd be on top of it shortly," Bryant recalls. Several hours passed and Chanelle's pain grew even worse. "I could barely stand to see it," she says. "Then she gathered her body in an inward position due to the pain and said, 'Hug me, Mommy.' As I laid her back, her eyes opened wide." Chanelle never regained consciousness. She was rushed to the operating room for exploratory surgery and died there. The FDA and CDC investigated her death. The cause: infection with Clostridium sordellii.
Another deadly surprise brought to a family that no doubt believed that abortion would never touch them.
The article also notes the deaths of Oriane Shevin and Vivian Tran from RU-486, but doesn't note the deaths of Cherish Roe, Tara Roe, and Wanda Roe, three more RU-486 victims.
It also raises this interesting bit of information:
Michael F. Greene, MD, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, observed there was still "no clear pathophysiologic link" between mifepristone and the deaths of Holly and the other women -- though he did note that the risk of death from medication abortion was some 10 times greater than from surgical termination.
Are women being told this as they're choosing between chemical abortion and surgical abortion? Abortion supporters frequently claim that childbirth is so much riskier than abortion, and use it to blow off abortion deaths as beneath their notice. But even using their flawed data, they can't claim that RU-486 abortions are safer than childbirth. If childbirth is a risky horror, chemical abortion is an equally risky horror. If RU-486 is a simple, safe means of dealing with pregnancy, so is childbirth. They can't have it both ways.
But they don't shy away from the pain these chemical abortions caused these families:
I've got to tell you: Watching Holly die the way she did, watching her suffer, watching her pain...I don't see how I can say this drug should stay on the market. ...."
.... Meanwhile, the deaths of Holly Patterson, Chanelle Bryant, Oriane Shevin, Vivian Tran, and the Canadian woman whose name has never been released .... are tragedies that leave behind enduring grief and emotional wreckage. Three children are growing up without their mothers. Lynn Bryant still weeps when she talks of her youngest daughter's death and says she "misses her every day. She was my baby." Debbie Patterson keeps a shrine of Holly's photos. "I do not know the words to tell you what this is like," she says. "A piece of your heart is gone, and nothing, nothing, nothing can fill it."
"I will always grieve Holly's death," says Monty Patterson. "I will never get over it."