The 1980 death of 26-year-old Betty Jane Zellers Damato stands out among safe, legal abortion deaths in that the doctor responsible actually was held accountable.
According to Betty's family, Dr. James Franklin did not remove all of the fetus during the August 23 abortion he performed. He instead gave Betty a trash bag, and instructions to collect whatever she expelled in the bag and bring it to him.
Two days later, Betty was dead from infection.
Franklin told a grand jury that he did not perform the fatal abortion. He claimed that he had examined Betty, found a dead fetus, and sent her to the hospital. A jury convicted him of manslaughter in Betty's death on October 19, 1981, and he was sentenced to prison for three years.