Wednesday, August 29, 2012

All Equally Dead

On August 29, 1918, 23-year-old homemaker Mabel Johnston died at Chicago's Cook County Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Nathan Smedley and Dr. Anna Warren. Both were arrested and arraigned but the case never went to trial.

On August 29, 1925, Katarzyna Tobiasz, age 31 or 32, died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from an abortion performed on her there that day. A woman whose name is spelled once as Barbara Kolur and elsewhere as Barbara Kar was held by the coroner on August 31 for Katarzyna's death. Kolur/Kar's profession is given as nurse or midwife. On July 5, 1927, she was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Katarzyna's death.

On Wednesday, August 18, 1926, 22-year-old Myrtle Shall's friends and her fiance, Bruce Armstrong, brought her to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. She had been feverish and in pain for the past three weeks, and now she was in shock. Bruce knew only that his fiancee was terribly ill but didn't know why. Her mother, Alice Phillips, on the other hand, was able to tell the doctor more. Myrtle, she said, had attempted a self-induced abortion when her period had been two weeks later. At first her vaginal bleeding was a welcomes sign that the abortion had worked, but it continued for three weeks, accompanied by fever and pain. Now she was vomiting and the doctors found her to be weak and anemic, with a rapid pulse and respiration and an alarming blood pressure of 136/100. In spite of all of the doctors' best efforts, Myrtle died at 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, August 29. The inquest concluded that Myrtle had died of peritonitis from a self-induced abortion.

In 1927, fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Florence Kruse became pregnant as a result of statutory rape by Corwyn Lynch. Somebody arranged for an abortion, which was performed on August 29. Florence died that day. Dr. James Aldrich was arrested on murder by abortion charges for the girl's death. However, the coroner's jury was unable to confirm that Aldrich had performed the abortion, and he was released. Florence's father was booked as an accessory. However, on September 17, both men were cleared by the coroner, and on September 19 they were released. The coroner did, however, recommend that Corwyn Lynch be charged with murder. There is no record that Lynch was charged.

Fast forward to our enlightened safe-n-legal days. Diane Watson was 27 years old when she went to Hedd Surgi-Center in Chicago for a safe and legal abortion on August 29, 1987. Although Diane was over 12 weeks pregnant, Rudolph Moragne proceeded with the abortion, in violation of state regulations prohibiting outpatient abortions after 12 weeks. Diane had seizures and went into cardiac arrest at the clinic. Moragne and the other physicians present -- Henry Pimentel, Ester Pimentel, and Calvin Williams -- failed to perform CPR. Diane's autopsy report attributed her death to "seizures due to anesthesia during an abortion," and made note of the recent pregnancy. Diane's family filed suit. A doctor reviewing the case said that Moragne and Hedd staff "deviated from the accepted standards of care [and] failed to appropriately and timely diagnose and treat intraoperative complications which resulted in her death." Another abortion patient, Magnolia Reed Thomas, bled to death when Moragne failed to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy when she came to him at Hedd for a safe, legal abortion.

Diane and Magnolia are just as dead as Mabel, Katarzyna, Myrtle and Florence. It'd be nice if abortion-rights activists cared as much about their deaths.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two Criminal Abortion Deaths: 1926 and 1943

On August 28, 1926, 44-year-old Margaret Muscia died from a criminal abortion performed that day in Chicago. Mrs. Minnie Miller, alias Molinaro, was arrested on July 10 for Margaret's death. Minnie's profession is not given. On November 15, she was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury.

Naomi Congdon, age 21, was the wife a sailor stationed in Norman, Oklahoma. On July 27, 1943, Dr. Andrew Young examined Naomi and noted that she was pregnant. Naomi told her husband that she wanted to "do something" about the pregnancy. She even admitted to him that she had ingested turpentine to try to cause an abortion, but had vomited it back up. Heobjected to the idea of an abortion, but on August 16 found a note from his wife, telling him that she was at the home of Mrs. Lena Griffin Smith, a 63-year-old maternity nurse in Oklahoma City. He went there and found his wife in great pain. He contacted doctors at the naval base, who instructed him to have Naomi brought to the base hospital. Police raided Smith's practice at her residence, finding one woman in bed recuperating from an abortion, and another just arriving for "treatment." Smith, who'd gone to medical school for two years, confessed that she and a nurse had been operating an abortion business for about 15 years. Meanwhile, a Navy doctor examined Naomi and found she had a fever of 103 from an infection that appeared to have started in her uterus. He administered sulfa drugs and blood transfusions but Naomi died of septicemia on August 28. Smith was charged with first-degree manslaughter. Her defense claimed that Naomi had already been feverish when she'd come for care, and that the fatal infection had originated in an ingrown toenail. The jury found Smith guilty, and recommended a 10-year sentence. Smith also faced manslaughter charges regarding the death of an infant born in an Oklahoma City hospital after Smith had attempted to perform an abortion on the child's mother.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicago Death: 1909

On August 27, 1909, homemaker and Cook County native Anna M. Dennin, age 23, died in Chicago from an abortion. Dr. E. Mayeke held by the coroner's jury and indicted for felony murder. The source document doesn't indicate that the case went to trial.

During the first two thirds of the 20th Centurey, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif
Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Five Fatal Abortions Over More Than a Century

Mrs. Lafavor, the 15-year-old wife of Frank Lafavor, was "the victim of ... inhuman outrage".  Frank had married his young bride over the objections of her family in March of 1870. The couple had settled as tenants on the farm of Thomas McIntyre. On August 15, she went missing from her home. "The neighbors became alarmed at her absence from home and made search for her in every direction without success" until about midnight, "when she was discovered dragging herself around the corner of her dwelling more dead than alive." Two doctors came to her aid and found her to be in critical condition. She admitted that she had taken some sort of abortifacient that day, but refused to say who she had gotten it from. "Everything possible was done to restore her, but after suffering intensely for a whole week and died on Tuesday morning last [August 23] at about eight o'clock." Mrs. Lafavor's mother testified that her daughter was raised up in bed five minutes before her death to make her dying declaration, but all she was able to say ws, "Tommy gave it to me! Tommy gave it to me!" Thus the young bride's landlord, Thomas McIntyre, was charged with her death.

Mrs. Anna May Klanenberg, age 24, died at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago from complications of an illegal abortion on August 23, 1906. Physician J. W. Mitchell was held by the coroner's jury, and indicted, but the source document doesn't indicate that there was ever a trial.

On August 23, 1910, Mrs. Louise Heinrich died in the New York apartment of Mrs. Vivian Buffam, under the care of Dr. Andre L. Stapler. Stapler cleared the case with Dr. O'Hanlon at the coroner's office, filling out a death certificate indicating that Louise had died from gastritis. Four years later, the Coroner's Office came under investigation concerning allegations that doctors there were taking bribes to cover up abortion cases. Louise's body was exhumed, an autopsy performed, and the real cause of death -- a criminal abortion -- was uncovered.

On August 23, 1927, 27-year-old Shellane Franklin died at the scene of the crime from an abortion performed on her that day. Dr. Gordon Jackson was held by the coroner on October 28. On December 15, he was indicted for felony murder. Shellane's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

Twenty-five-year-old Dorothy Muzorewa, a nurse, had recently immigrated to the Chicago area from Zimbabwe. She went to Women's Aid Clinic for a safe and legal abortion on June 15, 1974. The fetus didn't die, however, and Dorothy returned to the clinic on August 21 to report her symptoms. Staff told her to return the following day, which she did, bleeding and in pain. David Turow examined Dorothy, diagnosed an infection, and sent her home with prescriptions for tetracycline to control the infection and ergonovine to control the bleeding. Dorothy's husband said that he awoke at around 6:00 on the morning of August 23 to find his wife bleeding profusely. Dorothy assured him that she was just menstruating, so he left for school. When he returned home, he was alarmed by Dorothy's bleeding and called an ambulance. Dorothy was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival shortly after noon. Only after her death did her husband, a theology student, learn of the pregnancy and abortion. A witness in Dorothy's apartment described the bedroom as "wall to wall blood."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Denver Deaths, 1923 & 1929

According to the National Organization for Women web site, Ruth Friedl was a married, 27-year-old mother of two. NOW's site said that pregnancy was life-threatening for Ruth, but they don't specify why, nor do they say why she was denied an abortion, since there were always exceptions made for abortions deemed necessary to save the mother's life. NOW says that Ruth drank ergot apiol, an herbal abortifacient, on August 21, 1929. That night, according to NOW, Ruth collapsed at the dinner table in front of her husband and children, and died on the spot. I'd welcome any verifying information on Mrs. Friedl's death. If NOW's story is true, Ruth's abortion was unusual in that it was self-induced rather than performed by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.


On August 21, 1923, 32-year-old Catherine Stange died in Denver of septicemia due to an abortion blamed on Dr. Daniel R. Lucy. This was quite the scandal, since in addition to being a doctor, Lucy was a city councilman. His high position also meant that he was given warning of his pending arrest for second degree murder, to give him time to arrange bail. Lucy's only comment to the press after being told of the charge against him was to note that he was not surpirsed, that this was what he had expected from the coroner's jury. He was later acquitted of the charges. Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chicago: Three Typical Pre-Roe Deaths

On August 20, 1880, Miss Mary Faulkner, a white woman formerly of Ottawa, Canada, died at the office of Dr. Thomas J. Cream during the commission of an illegal abortion. Cream, a white physician, and Mrs. Mackey, a Black nurse, were arrested in the death.

On August 20, 1913, 20-year-old Emma Witte died in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated that day at the office of Dr. Otis M. Walker. Emma reportedly went to Walker's office early Wednesday morning. Dr. Charles L. West was summoned there to administer chloroform. He didn't linger, but returned late that afternoon he found Emma evidently lifeless, with Walker desperately attempting to revive her. She was rushed to St. Anthony's Hospital but declared dead on arrival. Walker was indicted by a Grand Jury that day, but the case never went to trial. News coverage made mention of a letter from John Nakin that was found in her room, but the significance of the letter was not explained.

On August 20, 1918, 28-year-old secretary Alma Heidenway died at 329 South Ashland Avenue in Chicago from an abortion performed that day by Dr. J. A. Stough. Stough, along with Fred Cordray and Alice J. Kennedy, were held by the Coroner on September 5. Eunice Magill was 'brought back from Forest Park." Stough and Cordray were acquitted on May 29, 1919. The others never went to trial for Alma's death.

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

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Five 20th Century Abortion Deaths

Cook County Hospital, 1914
On August 19, 1917, 31-year-old seamstress Anna Lindquist died at Chicago's County Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated that day by nurse/midwife Katherine Schmidt. Schmidt was tried in Anna's death but acquitted on February 28, 1918.

Elise Stone went to the practice of Dr. A. H. Yates on August 15, 1917, for a "criminal operation." Elise remained there for three or four days before being sent home, where she died. On her death certificate, her death was attributed to "congestive chill." But concerned citizens complained to the County Attorney, A.G. Nichols. Nichols ordered Elise's body exhumed and an autopsy performed; thus the real cause of her death was discovered. Yates would go on to perpetrate the fatal abortion on Katherine Cross later that year.

Ruth Haught, a 30-year-old widow, died at University Hospital in Hobart, Oklahoma, on August 19, 1937, of blood poisoning from an apparent self-induced abortion.

"Dawn" was 29 years old and 7 weeks pregnant when she underwent a legal abortion at a hospital in August of 1972.Local anesthesia was administered and a suction abortion was performed. After the abortion, Dawn went into convulsions. Doctors at the abortion hospital, and at another hospital, attempted to resuscitate her, to no avail. Doctors believed that she might have been given an overdose of local anesthetic. Strangely, during the autopsy, the medical examiner found a significant amount of blood in Dawn's abdominal cavity, but no evidence of a uterine perforation.

Documents regarding Tami Suematsu, age 19, alleged that she underwent a safe and legal abortion by Vern Wagner at Riverside Family Planning Center August 19, 1988. Tami went into bronchial spasm and asthma-related respiratory failure then cardiac arrest. She was transported to a hospital, but died shortly after arrival. Riverside Family Planning was a Family Practice Associates Medical Group facility. Other women known to have died at FPA facilities include: Denise Holmes, age 24, 1970; Patricia Chacon, age 16, 1984; Mary Pena, age 43, 1984; Josefina Garcia, age 37, 1985; Lanice Dorsey, age 17, 1986; Joyce Ortenzio, age 32, 1988; Deanna Bell, age 13, 1992; Susan Levy, age 30, 1992; Christina Mora, age 18, 1994; Nakia Jorden, 1998; Maria Leho, 1999; Kimberly Neil, 2000; Maria Rodriguez, age 22, 2000; and  Chanelle Bryant, age 22, 2004.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

1901: Chicago Doc's Fatal Effort

Homemaker Annie Robinson, age 28, died at her Chicago home on August 18, 1901, from an abortion performed there that day. She left her husband, George W. Robinson, a cashier at a streetcar company, to care for their two small children. Dr. Muenster was arrested that day, and she was held by the Coroner's Jury.

Mrs. Robinson's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Note, please, that with ordinary 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. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Abortion Deaths: New York, 1971; Miami, 1978

"Vicki" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. She was 23 years old when she underwent an abortion in New York state, taking advantage of the liberalized abortion law. She was 20 weeks pregnant. Saline was injected into her uterus to begin the abortion. The next day, she began to show signs of infection. She expelled her dead fetus but her condition did not improve. On August 17, 1971 she died of sepsis. Some of the other women who died because of New York abortionists' careless enthusiasm for saline abortions during the pre-Roe period include:Carmen Rodriguez, age 31,"Roseanne" Roe, "Anita" Roe, age 23, "April" Roe, age 17, "Barbara" Roe, age 35, "Becky" Roe, age 18, "Beth" Roe, age 23, "Colleen" Roe, age 21, "Julie" Roe, age 14, and "Sara" Roe, age 18.

 Marina Deschapell, age 34, went to the Miami abortion facility at 620 SW 1st Street for a safe and legal six to eight week abortion on August 17, 1978. Eduardo F. Elias administered Valium and Xylocaine for the abortion. Immediately after the procedure, Elias noticed that Marina was not breathing. He initiated CPR and an emergency team was summoned. The ambulance crew found Marina with no signs of life. Although the medical examiner did not attribute Marina's death directly to the abortion, police noted that the clinic, owned by Luis Barquet, was not equipped with any emergency equipment other than an air bag.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

1909:Doc's Work Kills Chicago Teen

On August 15, 1909, Lillian Swing, age 15, died in Chicago from an abortion performed on August 9.

Dr. Hamilton Shaver and his wife were held by the coroner's jury. The source document doesn't indicate that the case went to trial.

Note, please, that with general 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. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

1970: One of Five Patient Deaths at California Abortion Hospital

Sara Franki Lint, a 22-year-old coed, submitted to a safe and legal abortion at San Vicente Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on August 11, 1970. Adolpho Zlotolow, who operated San Vicente (an abortion facility) said that Sara went into ventricular fibrillation soon after the abortion was initiated by either Albert Kapstrom or Milton Gotlib.

The technique being used on Sara, hysterotomy, was one with a known high maternal mortality rate. San Vicente staff treated Sara for an hour before transferring her to Midway Hospital down the street, where she died at 4:57am on August 12. The autopsy found yellow fluid in Sara's heart, frothy tan fluid in her lungs, and a seven-inch male fetus in Sara's uterus.

San Vicente was where Oriane Shevin, Natalie Meyers, Joyce Ortenzio, Laniece Dorsey, and Mary Pena underwent their fatal abortions. It was bought out by Family Planning Associates Medical Group.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Incorrigible Quacks, Pre and Post Roe

On August 10, 1917, 29-year-old Emelia Gorman died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Anna Sorenson. Although Sorenson was indicted by a Grand Jury on September 1, she remained free to perform fatal abortions on Mrs. M. Linstrom in November and Margaret Crowe in January of the following year. Sorenson was finally arrested on January 15, and her killing spree came to an end when she herself died in prison while awaiting trial.

So, sadly, merely criminalizing abortion won't be enough to protect women from quackery unless we tighten the laws to make sure the quacks are quickly identified and locked up for life. They're incorrigible.

Let's jump ahead to the safe-n-legal days.

Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health ("CRASH") was the model abortion clinic -- a published review of their earliest patient records, published by Bernard Nathanson, played a key role in "proving the safety of legal outpatient abortion."

On August 10, 1988, 19-year-old K.B. (due to confidentiality, the public record documents do not give the patient's name) was given anesthesia for a safe, legal 14-week abortion. Since Life Dynamics calls her "Kelly" on their "Blackmun Wall" of women killed by abortion, I will refer to her as Kelly as well.

Shortly after the procedure, she showed signs of distress, but emergency measures were not instituted for almost an hour. Kelly was transported to Cabrini Medical Center where she was pronounced dead from complications of anesthesia. After Kelly's death, the health department investigated and found a mystery: Kelly's chart listed her post-operative condition as "pink, responsive, alert," even though she had gone into full cardio-respiratory arrest by the time indicated on the assessment. They learned that the note had been entered into the chart before the abortion was even performed.

The inspectors noted that CRASH "did not employ proper monitoring equipment or procedures," "had no working EKG machine," and didn't have a cardiac defibrillator. They noted that no one on staff was qualified to perform CPR. No one on staff was qualified to administer anesthesia, and they did not use proper procedures or equipment. Anesthesia was administered "by eye," with no means of accurately measuring the dose. Dosage was estimated to be twice that recommended in the procedure manual.

The operating rooms were found to be ill-lit, and there was no soap or paper towels at the scrub sink. The scrub sinks were stained, the walls and floors dirty, trash was stored in the scrub room. There were red make-up stains on the oxygen masks and nitrous oxide masks, dusty tubing on the suction machines, and blood on the wheels of the operating table.

CRASH had no documentation verifying the credentials or qualifications of medical director David Gluck. Gluck had been previously convicted of felony charges related to the sale of 48,000 Diluadid tablets to pay off gambling debts. His license had actually been revoked two months before K.B.'s death, but had been restored by judicial stay. There was no evidence at the investigation two weeks after Kelly's death that Gluck had reviewed her chart, or the charts of 18 other patients identified as having suffered complications.

The state closed CRASH for 60 days, but it never re-opened. Dr. Gluck went on to perform the fatal abortion on Alerte Desanges in 1994.

Clearly, legalization didn't do anything to keep quacks from practicing. It just reduced the intensity of their legal headaches when they killed patients.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The CDC's Abortion Death Numbers, and What They Mean

The 2008 CDC Abortion Surveillance Summary has been released. The most recent year for which they present abortion deaths is 2007.

Some visitors mistakenly assume that the Cemetery of Choice (COC) includes all abortion deaths in the United States since legalization. As you can see by comparing the number the CDC counted with the number I was able to verify, this is hardly true. Even the CDC's slipshod and spotty efforts uncover more abortion deaths than I can, since I lack access to confidential medical documents that the CDC can review.

Year CDC COC
2012 -- 1
2011 -- 0
2010 -- 1
2009 -- 3
2008 -- 0
2007 6 2
2006 7 3
2005 7 4
2004 8 2
2003 10 4
2002 10 4
2001 7 2
2000 11 5
1999 4 3
1998 9 6
1997 7 4
1996 9 5
1995 4 2
1994 12 8
1993 7 6
1992 10 9
1991 12 8
1990 9 7
1989 13 15
1988 16 15
1987 9 11
1986 11 16
1985 12 10
1984 12 10
1983 12 8
1982 12 8
1981 9 9
1980108
1979228
1978167
1977217
1976136
19753311
19743218
1973448
19726318




Those who claim that the number of abortion deaths would be higher were abortion not "safe and legal" would do well to review abortion mortality numbers since 1940. I marked vertical lines at 1970 (when New York and California became the first states to legalize abortion on demand) and 1973 (when Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion on demand nationwide).


If you're having a hard time spotting it, I'll zoom in a bit on abortion deaths since 1960. Note that I marked New York and California's legalization and Roe vs. Wade for you:

As you can see, legalization did absolutely nothing to change the existing steep downward trend in annual abortion death. Instead, legal abortion deaths started replacing illegal abortion deaths.

Abortion rights advocates who try to claim that legalizing abortion reduces maternal deaths either have never looked at the data, or are deliberately being misleading.

Every woman's death is a tragedy for her and her loved ones. Brushing off legal abortion deaths as being unworthy of notice or concern treats these women's deaths as insignificant and betrays a lack of real concern for the lives of women walking into supposedly safe legal abortion facilities every day.

We should address abortion quackery, not shrug it off.

1975: Antiquated, Needlessly Risky Abortion Kills California Woman

On August 6, 1975, 29-year-old Cheryl Tubbs underwent a saline abortion at Pacific Glen Hospital in Los Angeles County. She experienced heavy vaginal bleeding after this safe, legal abortion, so she was transferred to White Hospital on the evening of August 7.

Cheryl continued to bleed profusely, and twice went into cardiac arrest. Staff performed a paracentesis on her to remove blood and fluids from her abdomen. About an hour after midnight, staff could no longer detect any blood pressure. For an hour they tried heart massage, to no avail. Cheryl was pronounced dead at 2:30AM on August 8.

An autopsy revealed that Cheryl's uterus had ruptured during the abortion, spilling blood and uterine material into her abdomen. She had bled to death.

Two years later, Jackie Bailey also bled to death from a ruptured uterus caused by a saline abortion at Pacific Glen.

Saline abortion was hardly a pleasant experience. The abortionist would remove as much amniotic fluid as he could using a needle and syringe. He would then replace the amniotic fluid with a concentrated saline (salt) solution that would poison and kill the fetus. The woman would then go into labor and expel the fetus.

Saline abortions became very popular in Japan following WWII. Within the Japanese medical community, however, word quickly spread: this method was unsatisfactory. Too many women were being injured and killed. Over 70 papers were published in the Japanese medical community reporting hazards of saline abortions, including at least 60 maternal deaths. The Japanese Obstetrical and Gynecological Society condemned the technique, and it was quickly abandoned. But the Japanese abortionists kept news of the trouble among themselves -- until Western nations discovered instillation abortions and embraced them with great enthusiasm.

Two Japanese doctors, Takashi Wagatsuma and Yukio Manabe, broke the silence. Wagatsuma wrote, "It is, I think, worthwhile to report its rather distasterous consequences which we experienced in Japan." Manabe wrote, "It is now known that any solution placed within the uterus can be absorbed rather rapidly into the general circulation through the vascular system of the uterus and placenta. Thus any solution used in the uterus for abortion must be absolutely safe even if given by direct intravenous injection. ... A solution deadly to the fetus may be equally toxic and dangerous to the mother. ... In spite of the accumulating undesirable reports, the use of hypertonic saline for abortion is still advocated and used ... in the United States and Great Britain. I would like to call attention to the danger of the method and would perdict the further occurrence of deaths until this method is entirely forgotten in these countries."

 As western abortionists gained experience with saline abortions, other grim reports arose. A British study published in 1966 found that the saline would enter the mother's bloodstream and cause brain damage. Swedish researchers noticed an unacceptably high rate of complications and deaths. Sweden and the Soviet Union abandoned saline abortion as too dangerous for women in the late 1960s.

For whatever reasons, American abortionists were deaf to these warnings. When New York had completely repealed its abortion law, doctors had tremendous leeway in abortion practice. In New York City in particular, it became popular to inject the woman with the saline in the office, then send her home with instructions to report to a hospital when she went into labor. This was, to say the least, a highly irresponsible way to use an abortion technique that was risky even when performed in a hospital under close medical supervision. Women started dying from these reckless saline abortions.

Women were also already dying in California as well, even though the law there still required abortions to be done in hospitals.

After Roe v Wade was handed down, saline and other instillation abortions spread to other areas of the country, despite the dismal goings-on in New York and California, and of course more women died.

US abortionists showed no alarm over these deaths. Even as late as the 1990's, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and abortionists such as Don Sloan and Warren Hern, were describing saline and other instillation abortions in such terms as "a low-risk procedure."

Stastics show, however, that abortionists did gradually move away from saline instillation abortions, albeit more slowly in New York City than in the rest of the country.

Since the problem of maternal deaths from instillation abortions had been long documented, this factor probably only had a minor impact on the move away from saline and other instillation abortions. One important factor was financial: although suction and D&C were adequate procedures for first-trimester abortions, they were inadequate for killing and removing the larger second-trimester fetuses. But the uterus was not large enough to perform instillation abortions until 16 weeks. This left a 4-week "grey period" during which women could change their minds about aborting.

There was also the problem of starting a suction or D&C abortion only to discover that the pregnancy was already in the second trimester. Necessity is the mother of invention, and abortionists who found themselves dealing with second-trimester fetuses that had already been damaged had to come up with ways to remove these fetuses quickly and without alarming the patient. Thus evolved the Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure that remained popular for mid-trimester abortions for over a decade.

D&E was cheaper than instillation abortions, which required at least an overnight hospital stay. It also had the advantage of producing fewer live births, the "dreaded complication" no abortionist wanted to face.

In spite of all the problems, abortionists still performed 366 instillation abortions in the US in 2010, the most recent year for which numbers are available

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Why I'm Not Trying to Convert ProChoicers

I realize that saying this makes me sound like a heretic, but what I do with this blog is not intended to convert prochoicers to the prolife cause.

I can just hear the response: WTF?!?!

Hear me out.

The goal of this blog is to protect women:
  • From unwanted abortions
  • From abortion injuries
  • From quackery and death
"Yes," says the prolifer. "That's why we want people to convert to prolife! Then they will work with us to totally end abortion!"

That's a lovely goal, but it doesn't help the roughly 3,300 women and girls walking into abortion facilities tomorrow. They are at risk right now. And it's those women and girls that this blog is here for.

So today, fellow prolifer, I'm not talking to you. I want to talk to procohoicers who hear stories about abortion injuries, and coerced abortions, and seedy abortion mills, and are horribly dismayed, but don't know what to do to address those problems without having to switch sides on an issue that they have strong convictions about.

I'm talking to prochoicers who wish that they could make abortion just go away.

Here's where I reassert: I don't want to convert you.

"Yeah, right," many of you are thinking.

But I am 100% truthful. I do not want to convert you from prochoice to prolife, for a very practical reason: If you convert, you become utterly powerless to address the problems.

If a prolifer tries to shut down a seedy abortion mill, she gets blown off. After all, she wants every abortion facility shut down. Her motives are automatically suspect. The assumption is that she'll say anything to get any abortion facility closed, so she must be lying or taking things out of context or blowing things out of proportion. If she gets other prolifers to join her, then it becomes seen as an evil conspiracy. The prochoice citizens join the abortion-rights establishment in circling the wagons and protecting the place from what they naturally view as an unwarranted attack.

If prochoicers, on the other hand, are the ones waving around medical board documents and copies of health department inspections, and are the ones getting injured or abused women to speak out, their motives aren't called into question. Their concerns are taken seriously. Yes, unless it turns out to be as hideous a place as Kermit Gosnell's "house of horrors," there will still be hardcore abortion-rights advocates that will defend the place, but a lot of the wind will be taken out of their sails if they know that they're being carefully watched by their own constituency.

This is why I don't want you, the prochoice citizen, to convert. If you become prolife, you become just another antichoice nutcase who is only saying those bad things because you want to end abortion. If you remain prochoice, you keep your credibility and your power to take action and to protect women against abuses, coercion, injury, and death -- which is why you identify as prochoice in the first place..