Monday, November 14, 2011

One Illegal, One Legal, Both Dead

On November 14, 1928, 21-year-old Eunice McElroy died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. On July 24, 1931, Dr. Thomas J. Ney was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Eunice's death. Since blood transfusions and antibiotics were still in the future, Eunice died at a time when all surgery was much riskier than it is today. Eunice's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

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On November 13, 1972, 21-year-old Twila Coulter traveled from her home in Colorado to California for a safe and legal saline abortion. (Japan and the USSR had already abandoned the saline abortion method because it was too risky for mothers.) Twila was injected with the saline on November 13, then expelled the dead fetus and the placenta the following day. Twila had no blood pressure and was bleeding from IV sites. She was given oxygen and three units of blood and transferred to a fully-equipped hospital. Upon arrival, Twila was comatose and bleeding heavily. Doctors removed some retained pregnancy tissue and sutured numerous uterine injuries, but were unable to address her clotting problems. Twila died of cerebral hemorrhage.

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