Friday, July 20, 2012

Two Pre-Roe Abortion Deaths

On July 18, 1918, 18-year-old Margaret Smith, an unmarried clerk, died at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. The coroner determined that she had died of septicemia from a self-induced abortion.

Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it) fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

Barbara Riley was 23 years old when she chose abortion. She had a history of sickle cell anemia and three previous term pregnancies -- two live births and a stillborn child. She was in her first trimester of pregnancy when she underwent the abortion on July 11, 1970 at Harlem Hospital. The abortion had been recommended by hospital staff because Barbara had a history of sickle cell disease. The abortion would probably have been recommended as beneficial to Barbara's health, under New York's old abortion law; the new law just meant that they didn't need to leally justify going ahead with it. But instead of improving, Barbara's health deteriorated. Her blood started to break down. Nine days after the abortion, July 20, Barbara died. The other women I've identified as dying from sickle cell crisis triggered by an abortion are Margaret Davis andBetty Hines.

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