Thursday, November 13, 2014

Criminal, Legal, Equally Dead

On November 14, 1928, 21-year-old stenographer Eunice McElroy died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. The coroner's office undertook an intense investigation, including a very graphic questioning of Eunice's 19-year-old sister, Julia. Julia hedged and refused to answer many questions during the inquest, until she was threatened with prosecution herself for failing to cooperate with the investigation. Under this pressure, on the final day of the inquest, Julia cracked. She admitted to having adhered to the story Eunice had herself concocted as a cover-up to protect the abortionist. The fate of other women who entrusted themselves to the abortionist's care didn't seem to enter into either woman's thoughts.

On July 24, 1931, Dr. Thomas J. Ney was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Eunice's death and prosecuted. In the mean time, he was also fingered in the abortion death of Elma Bromps. Julia McElroy was wanted as a witness in Elma's death as well, though I've been unable to determine if she was wanted merely to testify that Ney had a history of perpetrating abortions or if she was believed to have been involved in Elma's fatal abortion as well.

Fast-forward to California in 1972, when abortions were perfectly legal as long as you did them in a hospital -- even if the hospital in question was just a freestanding facility dedicated to nothing but abortions.

On November 13, 1972, 21-year-old Twila Coulter traveled from her home in Colorado to California for a safe and legal saline abortion. A saline abortion involves injecting a strong salt solution into the womb. The fetus swallows and inhales the saline, which causes massive internal hemorrhaging and death. Twila was injected with the saline on November 13, then expelled the dead fetus and the placenta the following day. Twila had no blood pressure and was bleeding from IV sites, which is a sign of a clotting disorder. She was given oxygen and three units of blood and transferred to a fully-equipped hospital.
Upon arrival, Twila was comatose and bleeding heavily. Doctors removed some retained pregnancy tissue and sutured numerous uterine injuries, but were unable to address her clotting problems. Injuries to the uterus during an abortion can allow amniotic fluid to get into the mother's bloodstream, causing the kind of clotting problems that killed Twial. She died of cerebral hemorrhage.

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