Monday, December 01, 2014

Bad Old Days vs. Safe and Legal

There are two deaths from the Cemetery of Choice that took place on this date. I know little about the first, an illegal abortion death, but have an abundance of information about the woman who died on this date from a safe, legal abortion.

The Bad Old Days

On December 1, 1928, 23-year-old Esther Wahlstrom died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Lou E. Davis (pictured) was held by the coroner for murder by abortion on December 12. She was indicted for felony murder on December 15. Davis was also implicated in the abortion deaths of Anna Adler , Mary Whitney, Anna Borndal, Irene Kirschner, and Gertrude Gaesswitz.

Fast forward over sixty years to the enlightened days of safe, legal abortion.

Safe and Legal

Susanne Logan died a long, lingering death after she went to Maryland's Hillview abortion clinic for an abortion on September 9, 1989. Her abortion was performed by Gideon Kioko. She was 13 weeks pregnant. There was no record of how much intravenous Brevital was administered to Susanne, or who administered the drug. There was also no record of any examination to determine of this drug was appropriate for Suzanne.

Susanne was already unconscious on the table when Kioko and his nurse entered the procedure room. Kioko was being assisted by an unlicensed nurse, who noted that Susanne's lips were turning blue. She told Kioko, who continued with the abortion procedure. There is no record that anybody monitored her vital signs or administered oxygen during the procedure. Only after the abortion was finished did anybody do anything to address Suzanne's respiratory arrest.

Eventually somebody summoned emergency medical services (EMS). The EMS personnel reported that the Hillview employees seemed "very confused and did not seem to know what they were doing." EMS staff also noted that Hillview staff had put an oxygen mask on Suzanne upside-down, so that she wasn't getting any oxygen.

Susanne was cyanotic (she had turned blue from lack of oxygen), her pupils were dilated. She was limp, and had no pulse and was not breathing. EMS workers managed to perform CPR and get Suzanne's heart and lungs working again, and transported her to a hospital.

Susanne remained comatose and was transferred to a nursing home. Four months after the abortion, she regained consciousness, but was paralyzed and unable to speak. She had no memory of the abortion, but was able to eventually recall having gone to the clinic.

Local prolifers visited Susanne, and bought her a device that allowed her to communicate. She was interviewed by 60 Minutes, and asked what she wanted. She replied, "To go home."

Susanne filed suit against Kioko and the clinic. In November of 1992, she finally won her suit, and was awarded $2.6 million and $10,000 a month for life, to cover her expenses. Sadly, Susanne died on December 1, before she had a chance to fulfill her wish of seeing her father again.

Debra Gray also died after an abortion at Hillview under circumstances almost identical to the chain of events that fatally injured Susanne.

A Blind Eye

The TV show 60 Minutes learned that abortion-rights organizations had long known hos seedy Hillview was. They interviewed Barbara Radford, then-president of the National Abortion Federation, she defended the head-in-the-sand attitude the organization took toward safety issues by saying, "We want to make sure that women have choices when it comes to abortion services, and if you regulate it too strictly, you then deny women access to the service." When they asked pro-choice Maryland State Senator Mary Boergers why nothing was being done to address dangerous abortion clinics. Boergers said, "There's only so much of a willingness to try to push a group like the pro-choice movement to do what I think is the responsible thing to do because they then treat you as if you're the enemy."

The political goal of "access" trumped the bodies and lives of women like Susanne and Debra. Is the abortion lobby devoted to women's access to safe abortions, or abortionists' access to vulnerable women?

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