The Abortion-Lobby Claim
According to a multitude of abortion-rights web sites, none of which provide any substantiating documentation, Pauline Roberson Shirley was a 29-year-old married mother of six. She and the children, according to these claims, were living with her mother in Arizona while her husband was looking for work in California. These sites gives no details of the illegal abortion that Pauline reportedly underwent, but say that she was hospitalized for hemorrhage afterward and in need of transfusions. They then indicate that Pauline's mother was looking for donors for the needed blood when Pauline bled to death on August 22, 1940.
What The Death Certificate Says
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One can also easily piece together from the information that Pauline was indeed living with her mother. She also wasn't living with her husband -- because she wasn't married any more. That's really not significant. (Of course, how many children she had and what her mother was doing during Pauline's final hours won't be on a death certificate one way or the other.)
The cause of death section indicates "secondary anemia" and "uterine hemorrhage," which I would say substantiates that Pauline had bled to death.
But the abortion-rights websites deviate from the death certificate in one extremely important way:
THE DEATH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT CONFIRM AN INDUCED ABORTION.
The cause of death is noted as "incomplete abortion, spontaneous (?)" "Abortion" is the medical term for a miscarriage. So what the medical examiner was indicating when he completed the death certificate was that it looked as if Pauline had died from a miscarriage, but he wasn't 100% sure.
There is a section of the death certificate for information about external causes of death. This section is completely blank, even after an autopsy. That means that there were no signs that anybody had used instruments of any kind -- either of the medical or "coat hanger" type -- to perform an abortion on Pauline.
I can never say with 100% certainty that Pauline didn't use some sort of abortifacient. She might have tried an herbal tea such as parsley, which is harmless, or pennyroyal, which can trigger an abortion. If she did take any kind of abortifacient, it didn't do any obvious damage to her body. By far the preponderance of evidence that I've been able to uncover is that Pauline's death was not a criminal abortion death.
Abortion-rights groups also claim that Becky Bell died from complications of an illegal abortion, when in fact she died of pneumonia concurrent with a miscarriage. (There was no evidence that Becky's pregnancy had been tampered with in any way.) I don't know why they persist in using those debunked examples of criminal abortion deaths when there are plenty of verifiable illegal abortion deaths with abundant documentation supporting them. I've done all the legwork already!
But nothing seems able to break into or out of the prochoice echo chamber, not even evidence like autopsy reports and death certificates.