Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Two Very Different Illegal Abortion Deaths

There are two deaths from the Cemetery of Choice on this date, 60 years apart, very different but both illegal. 

Illegal in 1923

On December 18, 1923, 40-year-old Sophia Hartozinski died at Chicago's County Hospital due to a criminal abortion performed there that day. The coroner identified midwife Mary Roback as having been responsible for Sophia's death.

Illegal in 1982

Myrtha Baptiste, age 26, had a safe and legal abortion of her 10 week pregnancy performed by Orlando Zaldivar at Woman's Care Clinic December 18, 1982.  Myrtha, a mother of two, arrived at the hospital in critical condition due to delay of transfer by the clinic staff. She bled to death from two uterine perforations. Zaldivar could not be reached for seven hours while hospital staff were struggling to save his patient's life.

Myrtha had evidently led a very sad life. The Tampa Tribune described her as "semi-literate" and noted that she had undergone four previous abortions. Zaldivar didn't seem too moved over his patient's sad end. His comment to the police was, "This ruins my whole week."

Because Zaldivar's license was inactive at the time he performed Myrtha's abortion, the CDC classified her death as being due to illegal abortion rather than legal abortion. This hides her death from statistics on legal abortion deaths even though Myrtha had no reason at all to suspect that her abortion wasn't legal. The other deaths at that facility -- Ruth Montero, Shirley Payne, and Maura Morales -- were counted as legal abortion deaths.

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