Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1987: Assembly-Line Abortion Fatal for California Mother of Three

An old B&W photo of a smiling young Black woman with hair coiffed smooth and thick.
Belinda Byrd
On January 24, 1987, 37-year-old Belinda Byrd had a safe and legal abortion performed by Stephen Pine at Inglewood Women's Hospital in Los Angeles, California. Belinda was left unattended for three hours after the abortion, and was found unresponsive. Staff at Inglewood delayed an additional two hours before transferring her to a hospital with appropriate emergency services.

Belinda was one of 74 women who had abortions in Inglewood's single operating room that day, and one of 24 whose abortions were performed in the final two hours of the day. Belinda remained comatose until her death on January 27.

Belinda's mother wrote to a Los Angeles district attorney:
  • I am the mother of Belinda Byrd, victim of abortionists at [Inglewood]. I am also the grandmother of her three young children who are left behind and motherless. I cry every day when I think how horrible her death was. She was slashed by them and then she bled to death ... and nobody cares. I know that other young black women are now dead after abortion at that address. ... Where is [the abortionist] now? Has he been stopped? Has anything happened to him because of what he did to my Belinda? Has he served jail time for any of these cruel deaths? People tell me nothing has happened, that nothing ever happens to white abortionists who leave young black women dead. I'm hurting real bad and want some justice for Belinda and all other women who go like sheep to slaughter.

In the wake of the series of abortion deaths at Inglewood, the authorities inspected the place. Among other things, they caught an abortionist writing post-operative examination notes without even examining the patients. When the state closed Inglewood for numerous violations, the facility simply re-opened as Inglewood Women's Clinic; as a clinic rather than a hospital they were no longer subject to the same intense scrutiny and were able to remain in business.

Other women known to have died after abortions at the Inglewood facility include Kathy MurphyCora LewisLynette Wallace, and Elizabeth Tsuji.

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