Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Betty Jane Damato Updated and with New Clippings

At around 9 a.m. on February 22, 1980, 26-year-old Betty Jane Damato's sister, Mary Zellers, dropped her off at Abortion Clinic of Denver where Dr. James Franklin was to perform a safe, legal abortion.

That afternoon, Mary called the clinic and talked to her sister, who said that she'd had complications during the abortion. Mary went to pick Betty up and found her pale, weak, and in pain, clutching her stomach.

When she helped Betty get out of the car at her apartment, Mary notice a blood stain on the seat where Betty had been sitting. She decided to take Betty to spend the night with her at the Zellers home.

The morning of February 25, Betty was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Porter Memorial Hospital, where she was found to have gone into total cardio-respiratory arrest. She was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

An autopsy revealed that Betty had died from massive infection originating from "a partially truncated and macerated fetus." Franklin had removed little more than the arms. 

According to Betty's family, Franklin knew that he had not removed all of the fetus. He instead had given Betty a trash bag, and instructions to collect whatever she expelled in the bag and bring it to him.

Franklin, an osteopath, told a grand jury that he did not perform the fatal abortion. He claimed that he had examined Betty, found the decomposing foot and ankle of the fetus protruding, and sent her to the hospital. However, when Betty was examined at the hospital, the fetus was protruding head first, making it impossible for Franklin to have observed its ankle since, as an expert witness testified, it's impossible for a dead fetus to turn around in the vagina and emerge head first.

A jury convicted him of manslaughter in Betty's death on October 19, 1981, and he was sentenced to prison for three years. Franklin already had a history of malpractice including causing an 11-year-old boy to be left paralyzed after a botched appendectomy and a man who died while hospitalized under Franklin's care.