The first abortion deaths I ever researched are two I stumbled across in 1985. I had gone to NewsBank (then on microfilm in a library because the internet wasn't a thing yet) and looked for everything I could find on abortion. I discovered the deaths of Gloria Aponte and Ellen Williams. For Gloria's death I cite an Associated Press article from 1989 and a document from the Connecticut Medical Board. For Ellen's, I cite three articles from the Miami Herald, Dade County (FL) Circuit Court Case No. 85-14112, and Ellen's death certificate. Gloria's abortionist had a receptionist administering general anesthesia. Ellen's abortionist poked holes in her uterus and intestines then sent her home with a bottle of oral antibiotics, which of course did nothing to stop the raging peritonitis that killed her. So I learned not only that legal abortion was killing women, but that there was appalling quackery in Choiceland.
This is the tip of my research iceberg. I spent six months badgering every vital records office and public health department in the United States learning how abortion morbidity (injuries) and mortality were detected, reported, and compiled. What I discovered was that it takes an extraordinary series of coincidences for the Centers for Disease Control to learn about an abortion death, yet their publications gave the impression that they're identifying all of them and giving accurate numbers.
I also learned about how the CDC investigated abortion deaths: Lisa Koonin "verified" the abortion deaths (though I couldn't learn how she "verified" them) and then handed the information off to a research fellow, who at the time was Clarice Green. Ms. Green would then gather as much substantiating information as she could find and then presented her information to a committee that would deem each abortion death as from a "legal" abortion, an "illegal" abortion, or an "undetermined" abortion. I learned that "legal" and "illegal" as defined by the CDC had nothing to do with whether the abortion facility was operating openly and giving the impression to patients that everything was above-board. Nope. In fact, when investigating four abortion deaths at one clinic in Miami, the CDC classified one of the three as from an "illegal" abortion because the doctor's license was suspended at the time. This would raise the "illegal" numbers and lower the "legal" numbers to make legal abortion appear safer and to give the impression that women were resorting to obviously criminal abortions that could be blamed on prolifers.
I learned how lackadaisical Ms. Koonin was about uncovering abortion deaths. She was in attendance at a National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar in Dallas in 1992. At that seminar, Dr. Robert Crist discussed a patient who had died in 1991 after an abortion at his clinic. Unless he had two patients who died that year, he was clearly talking about Latachie Veal. There was massive publicity about Latachie's death, to the point where her death could only have been more obvious if she had crawled to Atlanta and expired on the floor of Lisa Koonin's office with her aftercare instructions clutched in her hand. Did Koonin "verify" her death?
The CDC doesn't give specifics about deaths they count, but we could get a breakdown by year, age group, and race. Latachie, a 17-year-old Black girl, obviously wasn't counted because the CDC had counted exactly zero deaths of Black patients in the 15-19 year age range in 1991.
But that's still not all the research I've done. I've tracked down the work of other researchers who found the source of the oft-claimed "5,000 to 10,000 women were dying of back-alley abortions before Roe vs. Wade" claim. It was a proponent of abortion legalization, Frederick Taussig, who had put forth this claim in a book he published in 1936. Six years later at a conference, he apologized for publishing bogus numbers based on "the wildest estimations." I found contemporary research on abortion mortality and found how thorough the research into abortion deaths was prior to the mid-1970s, and how sloppy it became afterward. I tracked down a copy of the summary report, prepared by then-Planned Parenthood Medical Director Mary Calderone, for a 1955 conference on abortion in America.
I've tracked down the source of the claim that "abortion is safer than a shot of penicillin." I tracked down the real story behind the "Koop Report" that abortion-rights advocates claim "proves" the safety of legal abortion.
So one could hardly argue that I haven't done my research. Not by the wildest stretch of the imagination.
But lo! I've had this exchange this week on Twitter! Let me show you the three key tweets. Audrey begins with this oft-repeated abortion-rights tweet: "Roe vs. Wade was NOT the beginning of women having abortions. Roe vs. Wade was the end of women DYING from abortions." It included, of course, the obligatory coat hanger.
I responded with a tweet about an abortion death that had taken place on that date. With a link to the summary, complete with cites, I posted:
So... these 16 entities weren't women? Or they didn't die?With this graphic:
"At a prestigious NAF member clinic: Nakia was not properly monitored. She was not given oxygen. Her oxygen saturation fell to 74%. She was given the wrong medicine. She became one of at least 16 patients to die in that chain of reputable clinics. "Safe and legal" didn't protect Nakia or those 15 other vulnerable women. Stop trusting the abortion lobby.Audrey responded with what she evidently considered a clincher to the discussion: "stopped dying from back alley, self-induced abortions, you piece of shit. Do some research.
Of course, if Audry had bothered to click on the link she'd have found the research. But finding out that this "piece of shit" has done a staggering amount of very thorough research over a period of thirty years would mean that Audry would have to question her assumption that "anti-choicers" are ignorant savages. And she might have to question if what she's been told by abortion-rights organizations -- which are really lobbying and public-relations organizations for abortion businesses -- was really true. And that might mean she'd have to question her own beliefs.
And we wouldn't want THAT, would we?