Monday, September 22, 2014

An Early Beneficiary of New York's Liberalized Abortion Law

"Amanda" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a safe and legal abortion. Amanda was 19 years old when she traveled from Indiana to New York for a legal abortion in 1970. She was 12 weeks pregnant.

The doctor performed the abortion on September 3. He was unable to remove any of the fetus or placenta. For some reason, he did not suspect a problem. He discharged Amanda and she returned home.

Upon her return home, she suffered from pain, nausea, and vomiting, so she sought care from a physician in her community. She was admitted to the hospital with a perforated uterus.

Her doctor performed a lapartotomy, and found that the fetus was still inside Amanda's perforated uterus. The abortion was completed and the hole in her uterus was repaired.

After the surgery, she had a series of complications beginning with difficulty breathing. On September 10, doctors performed a hysterectomy. She continued to be treated in the hospital, but despite all their efforts she died on September 22.

I believe that Dr. Paul Jarrett was one of the doctors who tried to save her life. His full story is here.

A few months into my residency, I came face to face with the issue of abortion for the first time. An 18-year-old Indiana University coed came into Coleman Hospital with lower abdominal pain. She related to me that she had been to New York City earlier that day to have a legal abortion performed at a clinic there. She had gotten on a plane at 8am at Indianapolis International Airport and flown to New York. She was taken to a legitimate clinic by a cab driver. She had believed she was two and a half months pregnant, but after the doctor had unsuccessfully attempted to abort the pregnancy, he told her she wasn't really pregnant after all and sent her home. She returned to Indiana on the 4pm flight as planned.

When she returned home in terrible pain, she realized she was in trouble and for the first time, told her mother what had happened to her. Her mother contacted her own gynecologist, who in turn referred the patient to Coleman Hospital to be evaluated by the resident on call--me.

Even though I was still wet behind the ears, I know that this pale, frightened little girl was still 10 weeks pregnant and her blood count was only half of what it should be. The private, attending doctor came in and took the patient to surgery immediately that night, where he repaired the hole that had been torn in the back of her uterus, which had caused her massive internal hemorrhage.

Over the course of the next few days, infection set in which did not respond to antibiotics, and we made the painful decision to perform a hysterectomy. Tragically, the shock from the infection severely damaged her lungs and her course was steadily downhill. As I helplessly watched, she slipped into unconsciousness and a few days later she died.
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 the data.

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