Twenty-six-year-old Moris Helen Herron went to Bakersfield, California Dr. William D. Stanley for a tubal ligation in October of 1983. When Stanley examined Helen, he informed her that she was pregnant and asked if she wanted him to perform a safe, legal abortion when he did the tubal ligation.
and on October 23, Stanley operated on her. After Helen went home, she
suffered weakness, vomiting, and severe pain. She called Stanley, who
instructed her to take a laxative.
Helen developed a
high fever, and died on November 3. An autopsy found feces and feculent
fluid in Helen's abdominal cavity from a hole in her intestines.
Helen's mother, Inez Herron, sued Stanley on behalf of her two surviving
children, and Stanley settled out of court for $200,000.
When a local
pro-life group wrote to Stanley to chastise him for his treatment of
Helen, he wrote back, saying, "Elective abortion refers to termination
of a live viable pregnancy upon the request of the mother. I have never
performed this service or even offered it." He claimed that he was
merely performing a D&C on Helen after a miscarriage.