In October of 1984, 14-year-old Sandra Kaiser went to a Planned Parenthood with her 21-year-old half-sister, Karen Flynn. The test was positive, and Sandra told Karen she wanted an abortion. Karen made an appointment and took Sandra to Reproductive Health Services (RHS) for a safe and legal abortion.
Karen later said
that during the counseling session, Sandra did not seem ambivalent, and
said that she thought she was too young to have a child. Sandra also
lied, saying that her mother knew of the abortion plan, approved of it,
and had provided the money to pay for it. Three days later, Karen
brought Sandra back to RHS for the abortion.
It is important
to note that Sandra had already led a very troubled life. At age 7 she
witnessed the stabbing death of one of her half-brothers. At age 11 she
was diagnosed with a conduct disorder. By age 12 her problems included
drinking alcohol, running away from home, temper outbursts, skipping
school, crying, and nightmares about her brother's death. She was
hospitalized at least twice and had received outpatient therapy and
medication. She was, in short, a high-risk abortion patient, likely to
suffer severe psychological after-effects.
Sandra signed the
consent form, and Karen signed in the space for parent/guardian. The
two sisters also filled out the other paperwork for the abortion. They
checked "No" in answer to the question, "Have you ever been hospitalized
other than for childbirth." Karen later said that they checked "No"
despite Sandra's psychiatric hospitalization because she believed the
question only pertained to hospitalization for physical ailments.
Sandra was then
shown a film called First Trimester Informed Consent. The film said, "A
few women have negative emotional feelings after an abortion. You may
feel slightly depressed, but those feelings are normal. .. [S]evere
depression is not to be expected. If you are severely depressed after
this abortion, it may be that your feelings about ending a pregnancy
have not yet been completely resolved."
abortion, Sandra holed up in her room a lot, crying. On November 19,
Sandra's mother overheard her talking to her boyfriend on the phone. The
boyfriend had supposedly gotten another girl pregnant. Sandra said that
she was going to go jump off a bridge. Half an hour later, Sandra went
to a bridge over Aresnal Street. There, a bystander saw her holding on
to the fence, finally letting go and leaping off into the path of a car
on the street below.
The driver of the
car that hit her stopped and stood by Sandra, waving his arms to alert
oncoming traffic to her presence in the road. The driver behind him
stopped his car as well, and began flashing his headlights and sounding
his horn to alert traffic. A woman driving an oncoming car saw the man
waving his arms, and the car with lights flashing, and became confused
and alarmed. She drove past them, running over Sandra.
Upon arriving at
her destination, this driver told a friend of the strange event. The
friend suggested that they return to the scene to find out what had
happened. By the time they arrived, the police had arrived, Sandra was
being loaded into an ambulance, and somebody had found Sandra's mother
and brought her to the scene. The woman driver told the police what had
happened, and no charges were brought against her.
Sandra died later of multiple internal injuries.
sued RHS for her daughter's death, charging that they had failed to
contact the her mother in compliance with the law. An expert noted that
at the time of Sandra's death, she had been depressed for several weeks,
that the suicide was a direct consequence of this depression, and that
the abortion was the "straw that broke the camel's back." The judge
ruled that Sandra's mother and her witnesses failed to prove that the
clinic had been negligent in exploring Sandra's history, and that Sandra
had not been proved to have killed herself due to an uncontrollable
impulse. To add insult to injury, the suicide had occurred during the
time that the Missouri law governing consent of minors to abortion was
enjoined by the Federal courts, so the law to protect Sandra and girls
like her did not apply.