Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The anniversary. And how I found out.

When Kevin Sherlock did his massive abortion mortality research in the 1980s, he wrote up the story of how 19-year-old Angela Scott died at Atlanta Women's Pavillion. I learned of Angela's death when I stumbled across the 1991 edition of his Abortion Death Log.

Angela's abortion had been performed on June 2 of 1979 at what I later confirmed was a National Abortion Federation member facility.

Angela stopped breathing in the recovery room. Staff rushed to her aid and managed to resuscitate her. They loaded her into an ambulance and turned their attention back to their other patients.

That was when they made a horrifying discovery. Deloris Smith, just 14 years old, had been put under sedation for an abortion being performed by Dr. Jacob Adams. The nurse-anesthetist who had been running Deloris' drip had rushed off to aid Angela -- and had left Deloris unattended, with the anesthesia drip still running. Alone and unconscious, with powerful drugs running unchecked into her body, the young girl had gone into cardio-respiratory arrest.

Since Dr. Adams had accompanied Angela to the hospital, staff refused to release Deloris to an ambulance until Adams returned to discharge her. This resulted in a 30-minute delay, during which time the ambulance crew was kept from treating the young patient.

Angela lingered for a week in a coma before dying on June 11. And Kevin's death log left us ignorant of the fate of Deloris. What had become of her? While we were writing Lime 5, Mona and I tracked down leads, but to no avail. We couldn't, with the resources available to us at the time, find out what had happened. Had she recovered? Was she still in a coma? Had she died?

We went to Washington DC for a press conference to launch Lime 5 I had a per-diem to cover my meals and incidental expenses, and quite a bit of free time while Mark and Tulane worked on the press conference. So off I went to Library of Congress to see what I could see.

I went to the periodicals archives and looked for old issues of the Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution. The papers had merged, and a librarian helped me to find where the indices for the separate papers were shelved. I figured I'd start in 1979, when Deloris had been injured, and work forward from there.

I turned to the proper index page for abortion stories, and found this:

"Girl, 15, dies after being in a coma since abortion last June"

I burst into tears there in the stacks, under the bewildered stare of the librarian.

"She died," I told him. Then I realized he'd have no idea what I was talking about. I stammered out something, I forget what, pulled myself together, and tried to find the article, but it wasn't on the microfilm where it was supposed to be. It wasn't until we got back to Texas that Mona was finally able to track it down.

Deloris had never regained consciousness. She'd finally been moved to a nursing home, where she died of adult respiratory distress syndrome on October 24, 1979, some time after her fifteenth birthday.

We also found one more article, one that I've lost. It said that Deloris' mother sued the clinic after her child's death. She had learned that the pregnancy test they had performed on the girl had come back negative.

Deloris Smith, dead at 15, might not have even been pregnant in the first place.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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