Two of today's safe-and-legal abortion deaths happened on the very same day.
Twenty-year-old Gail Vroman had a safe and legal abortion
performed on July 14, 1979, by New York abortionist Taskin Ratharathorn
at Ft. Wayne Women's Health Organization. Within two hours, Gail was
transferred to a nearby hospital. Gail died of massive infection on July 18. The coroner ruled that the death was caused by clostridium perfringens, or "gas gangrene."
Geneva Colton, age 21, mother of two, underwent an abortion at Northside Family Planning Service in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 18, 1979. On the drive back home she was in pain, but she figured that this was just the cramping the clinic had told her to expect. At 8:30 that evening, Geneva was admitted to a hospital, with no vital
signs detected. Doctors attempted to resuscitate her, to no avail. She
was pronounced dead.
The autopsy found that Geneva's uterus had been perforated. She had bled to death. Northside was eventually sued by their malpractice insurer because
they'd allowed one of their abortionists to continue to perform surgery
even though his manual dexterity had deteriorated due to multiple
sclerosis. The suit by the insurer also alleged failure to meet state
health standards, failure to have enough nurses on duty, failure to have
proper on-call procedures, and lack of a professional director of
medical services. The clinic where Geneva's fatal abortion was performed seems to be the same clinic where Catherine Pierce underwent her fatal abortion in 1989.
Abortion supporters will argue that deaths from abortions would only become more common if abortion was recriminalized. As you can see
from the graph below, abortion deaths were falling dramatically before
legalization. This steep fall had been in place for decades. To argue
that legalization lowered abortion mortality simply isn't supported by
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.
On July 18, 1911, 24-year-old homemaker Ragna Beck died from an abortion performed on May 9th by Mrs. C.M. Anderson. Anderson was held by the Coroner and arrested on July 19, but the case was stricken off during trial.
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.
For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.