Illegal in Chicago, 1918
On January 8, 1918, 20-year-old newlywed and homemaker Margaret Balch died in a Chicago home from hemorrhage caused by an abortion perpetrated by a person who was never identified. Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. In fact, due to improvements in addressing these problems, maternal mortality in general (and abortion mortality with it fell dramatically in the 20th Century, decades before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across America. For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.
Safe and Legal in Detroit, 2004
Taisha Glenn, the sister of 15-year-old Tamiia Russell's 24-year-old "boyfriend", Stacy Glenn, arranged an abortion in early 2004 without notifying Tamiia's family. Stacy Glenn, according to Frances Russell, Tamiia's mother, is a reputed drug dealer who has not been located since Tamiia's death. He paid the $2000 for the abortion.
Taisha took the girl to five different Detroit area abortion facilities, and was turned away from all five because of how far advanced Tamiia's pregnancy was. She was at least six months pregnant. One facility reportedly even offered prenatal care and vitamins. Finally Taisha found an abortionist willing to proceed -- WomanCare, a Winthorop Village abortion facility run by abortionist Abraham Alberto Hodari. Despite the fact that the pregnancy was the result of statutory rape, and despite the fact that he had no permission from Tamiia's parents or guardian, as required by Michigan law, the clinic agreed to take the case. Tamiia used an identification card with another woman's picture to claim that she was 19, but according to Tamiia's cousin, the woman in the picture ID looked nothing like Tamiia.
Tamiia's presumably safe and legal abortion was begun on January 7, when laminaria was inserted. Laminaria are sticks of seaweed used to dilate the cervix. Once home, Tamiia confessed to her aunt and mother that she was pregnant and she had begun the abortion. Tamiia's mother said that she called the clinic, and staff told her that the abortion must be carried out once the laminaria are inserted. This is not true; laminaria can be removed and the pregnancy continued successfully to term with medical supervision.
Based on the false claim that Tamiia had no choice but to go through with the abortion, her mother drove her to WomanCare on January 8 for the actual procedure. Tamiia bled heavily after coming home froom the abortion -- so heavily that the blood soaked a mattress. Tamiia's mother called WomanCare, where staff told her that such bleeding was normal and instructed them not to bring Tamiia to a hospital. Her family ignored this advice and called an ambulance, which rushed the girl to Sinai-Grace Hospital, where she was dead on arrival.
Dr. Leigh Hlavaty, who performed the autopsy on Tamiia, said that her death was caused by "uterine infarction with sepsis due to status second trimester abortion." Hlavaty said, "I ruled it normal because these complications are expected with this type of abortion."
Dr. Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society, reports that there have been 23 lawsuits in the past 20 years against WomanCare facilities and Alberto Hodari for abortion injuries including complications resulting on hysterectomies on 19, 22, and 23-year-old women. All were dismissed, with many referring to undisclosed settlements. Hodari was also implicated in the deaths of Chivon Williams and Regina Johnson.
At the time of Tamiia's death, Womancare was a member of the National Abortion Federation.