Monday, November 24, 2014

Aren't Legal Deaths Equally Tragic?

I have very little information on the three criminal abortion deaths that happened on this date. On November 24, 1907, homemaker Lizzie Paulson, age 38, died at County Hospital in Chicago from an abortion. John Nelson, whose profession I've been unable to determine, was sentenced to Joliet for his role in Lizzie's death. On November 15, 1912, 33-year-old homemaker Fannie Scheiner died at County Hospital in Chicago after an abortion perpetrated that day by midwife Annie Balnoka. Balnoka was arrested indicted by a Grand Jury but the case never went to trial. And two years later, on November 24, 1916, 24-year-old Mrs. M. Marazak died at Chicago's West Side Hospital from an abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator.

I have much more information, however, on a safe and legal abortion death on this date in 1986.

Eighteen year old Michelle Madden, a freshman at Mobile College, sought a safe and legal abortion from O.B. Evans at Family Planning Medical Center of Mobile, Alabama. It was performed on November 18, 1986. According to the friend who had accompanied Michelle to the abortion facility, a doctor had told her that her baby would have birth defects because of medication Michelle had been taking for epilepsy.

A middle-aged couple
Michelle Madden's parents
That very day, Michelle's parents were preparing to go to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. Madden's brother. They got a call from Michelle's roommate telling them that their daughter was sick. "We didn't think anything of it. We told her we were going to come the next day to pick her up," Michelle's mother told the Mobile Press Register.

But before they could leave the house the next day, the house mother at the dorm called, asking if Michelle had gynecological problems. Again, the parents weren't particularly concerned.

However, when they arrived at the dorm, they were told that Michelle was in the hospital. "We called the hospital and they said she was in surgery."

When doctors operated on Michelle, doctors found a fetal leg bone, two pieces of fetal skull, and some placenta still in Michelle's uterus. The surgery to save her life was too late.
Sepsis had already set in.

(Yearbook photo of Michelle Madden) "He sent her home with a fetal leg bone, two pieces of fetal skull, and placenta still in her uterus. She died of sepsis. But it's okay -- He didn't use a coat hanger."
Michelle's parents waited an hour at the hospital until the doctor finally came to them and told them that Michelle had undergone an abortion. Her parents hadn't even known that Michelle was pregnant.

"From what he told me at that point [about Michelle's condition]," said Mrs. Madden, a nurse, "I knew that for her to live would be a miracle, on the order of the Lord raising Lazarus from the dead. She was in such bad shape I didn't see how she could make it."

Michelle remained on life support until dying on November 24.

Her parents sued Evans and the facility, and in 1991 a jury awarded them $10 million in damages.

Evans appealed on the grounds that this would "devastate him financially", because his malpractice insurance would only cover $1 million. During the appeal, the parties agreed to settle for $5 million, with the insurance company paying the entire amount. Evans then sued his insurance company for not having settled with the family for $1 million prior to the trial, thus subjecting him to "emotional distress, humiliation, damage to his reputation, and loss of business" -- such "emotional distress", he asserted, was "so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it."

Interesting, that the lawsuit, and not the needless death of an 18-year-old girl who had trusted him, is what caused Evans such emotional distress. And his emotional distress, I guess, was somehow more severe than the distress he caused to Michelle Madden's family.

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