At this time, abortion was only legal in California if it was done to save the life of the mother.
Erika had entered the hospital on July 11, 1961 during the first trimester of pregnancy, because of problems breathing. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed in a tank respirator.
Her physicians made the decision to abort her child as soon as she was well enough to undergo the abortion.
On July 21st, Erika's condition was improved, and her husband signed the consent form for the abortion, which was scheduled to take place two days later.
Erika went into cardiac arrest during the abortion and was unable to be resuscitated. The abortion that was intended to save her life ended her life instead.
After autopsy, it was believed that Erika's original illness was caused by a hereditary disease that was exacerbated by the medications she was taking for her schizophrenia.
Erika's was not the only tragic death caused by doctors who recommended (or excused) abortion as a life-saving or health-preserving option for the mother:
For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:
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