Saturday, June 11, 2016

Very Different Scenarios: 1843, 1917, and 1999

A Mysterious Death, 1843

Caroline Clark, age 18, lived in Detroit with her mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Myers. From time to time she resided with the family of her stepfather's son-in-law, Alonzo Plumstead, in Northville. On Sunday, June 4, 1843, Caroline told her mother that she was leaving aboard a steamboat for Toledo, accompanied by Mr. Plumstead. Instead of boarding the boat, however, Caroline and Plumstead went to the Farmington home of Mrs. Sophia Sperry, arriving as night was falling. Plumstead gave his name as Marlow, and, referring to Caroline as his wife, Sarah, Plumstead asked if she could stay there for a few days while he went to Livingston County. She was feeling too ill, he said, to continue the trip with him. Mrs. Sperry agreed, and Plumstead left.

Caroline only sat by the fire a short time before saying that she felt unwell and wanted to go to bed. Mrs. Sperry settled her visitor in bed and sat up with her through the night. The next day, which was Monday, Mrs. Sperry saw Dr. Wixom passing by, so she called him in to attend to the sick woman. Wixom examined Caroline, who was pregnant and appeared to be in premature labor.

Caroline gave birth to a stillborn child on Wednesday. Wixom checked on her and she seemed to be adequately recovering. However, she took violently ill on Friday. On Saturday Plumstead came to the house, stayed with Caroline for several hours, and then left, instruction Mrs. Sperry to send for him in Northville if "Sarah" died.

She died the very next day, June 11. A post-mortem examination was performed, and a coroner's jury concluded that "Caroline Amelia Clark came to her death by inflammation subsequent to abortion, which was produced by extraordinary means used or administered to or upon said Caroline Amelia Clark, by some person or persons, for that purpose, to this jury unknown." 
Plumstead fled to avoid prosecution.

A Midwife's Handiwork, 1917

On June 11, 1917, 23-year-old homemaker Esther Stark died at Chicago's German Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated by midwife Mary Groh, who was never prosecuted because she died several days later from causes not indicated in the source. Groh had arranged for Esther to board at the home of Mrs. Scholtes for her abortion.

The Utmost in Safe, Legal Abortion Care, 1999

Maria Leho was in the first trimester of pregnancy when she entrusted herself to the staff at Albany Medical Surgical Center of Chicago -- a member of the Family Planning Associates Medical Group chain of abortion facilities and thus a member of the prestigious National Abortion Federation (NAF). NAF purports to ensure that all of its member facilities adheret to the very higest standards of care. 

On June 9, 1999, John Weitzner, MD performed a suction abortion on Maria, while Lawrence Hill, CRNA, administered Brevitol for anesthesia. This drug is inappropriate for a patient who had seizure disorder, as Maria had indicated on her medical history. Maria was under anesthesia for a total of four minutes, from 12:40 to 12:44 p.m. Hill then transferred Maria to the recovery room without first verifying that her condition was stable. When she was transferred, the pulse oximeter, which monitors pulse and blood oxygen levels, was removed.

Once in the recovery room, the still-sedated and unconscious Maria was attended Tanya Hall, RN, while Hill went to administer anesthesia to another patient. Hall put a blood pressure cuff on Maria's arm, and another pulse oximeter on her finger, but this one hadn't been tested. She then left the recovery room. Maria was now in the care of Yvette Johnson, RN. A nurse reviewing Maria's records noted that the nurses did not perform a proper assessment of Maria when she was turned over to their care. They did not take a pulse or check to see if she was even breathing.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson noticed that Maria wasn't breathing and had no pulse. She, Hill, and Hall attempted to resuscitate her with CPR, and ambu-bag, and a defibrillator. Nobody summoned Weitzner, who was performing an abortion on another patient. He came into the recovery room at about 12:50. Staff continued to try to revive Maria for another ten minutes before they finally got around to calling 911, rather than summoning EMS as soon as they realized that their patient was in a life-threatening emergency.

Maria was taken to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's hospital, where she died on June 11. She left behind two sons, a 7-year-old and a toddler.

Albany had already had one patient, Deanna Bell, die from anesthesia complications. Then-owner Edward Campbell Allred admitted that he failed to perform any preventability study to keep any other patients from suffering Deanna's fate.

Other women known to have died after abortions at Allred's facilities include: Denise HolmesPatricia ChaconMary PenaJosefina GarciaLanice DorseyJoyce OrtenzioTami SuematsuSusan LevyChristina MoraTa Tanisha WessonNakia JordenKimberly NeilMaria Rodriguez, and Chanelle Bryant.

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