Monday, October 03, 2022

October 3, 1977: The Death that Delighted Abortion Enthusiasts

 In 1976, the Hyde Amendment went into effect, banning the use of Federal funds to pay for abortions except to save the mother from an immediate threat to her life. The measure was named for its author, Congressman Henry Hyde. Abortion advocates had been keening from the moment the Hyde Amendment was up for vote. They painted a ghastly picture of coathanger-impaled women littering the streets as poor women were driven to desperation by lack of "access".

When the Hyde Amendment went into effect, abortion advocates ramped up the hysteria and waited for a death, any death, they could hang around Henry Hyde's neck. 

On October 3, 1977, the abortion advocacy vultures got what they'd been waiting for: a dead woman they could use as leverage in the fight to once again force taxpayers to fund elective abortions. 

Undated yearbook photo of Rosie
Their triumph started playing out on September 26, 1977, when 27-year-old Rosaura "Rosie" Jimenez had shown up at the emergency room of McAllen General Hospital in the Texas border town of McAllen.

She was overwhelmingly sick with septic shock. However, she denied having had an abortion, instead telling the doctors that her period had just started that day. 

Her uterus was enlarged, but due to guarding (resisting pressing on an area due to pain) the doctors had a hard time determining the size. Her cervix was dilated enough that they could insert a ring forceps. She had a dark bloody discharge. She was clearly suffering from a septic abortion.

She was immediately started on IV penicillin and fluids. Doctors performed a D&C to remove any infected material from her uterus. An examination of the tissue confirmed that she had been pregnant.

Rosie's condition deteriorated. She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. She became jaundiced and developed a rash that covered her trunk and upper thighs. Her pulse increased to 160/minute. Her hemoglobin dropped, as did her urine output. 

Doctors performed a hysterectomy during her second day in the hospital, which seemed to improve her condition slightly. However, six hours later she suffered heart failure. She was treated aggressively in efforts to prevent edema, address her clotting problems, and defeat the infection. Eventually doctors performed a tracheotomy and put Rosie on a ventilator.

In spite of these efforts, she died on October 3 from renal and cardiac failure caused by disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (failure of the blood to clot properly) triggered by gas gangrene from a criminal abortion. She left behind a four-year-old daughter.

The initial response of the abortion lobby to news of Rosie's death was little short of euphoric. They had their trophy, their dead woman whose story they could leverage, they hoped, into the restoration of tax money flowing into abortion clinics. They've never stopped using Rosie's death to advocate for cheap, readily available abortions.

A Voice in the Wilderness

One voice stood out from the crowd: Ellen Frankfort, author of Rosie: the investigation of a wrongful death. Frankfort was disgusted with the bulk of the prochoice movement, who seemed content to make note of Rosie's death and then milk it for political gain. She began an investigation into what had led Rosie to her death, and she found a lot that neither the Centers for Disease Control nor abortion advocacy organizations had been willing to look for, since all they'd wanted was political leverage. They weren't looking for the real culprit behind Rosie's death: they'd had a bogeyman in mind even before she'd died, in the form of Henry Hyde.

Off to McAllen Frankfort went, to learn all she could.

The Whole Story

Rosie was one of 12 children of migrant farm workers. A single mother on welfare, she and a friend, Diana Rivera, moved into adjacent apartments to encourage each other to complete schooling and build better lives for themselves and their young children. Rosie planned to become a special education teacher.

Rosie's efforts to better her life, however, did not extend to her choice in men. Her long term boyfriend, Jesse, was in prison. 

Rosie had already undergone two abortions at taxpayer expense, one performed by her private ob/gyn, the second at a facility Rosie had been referred to by a local Planned Parenthood. She had become pregnant prior to both of these abortions after stopping her birth control pills on the advice of a physician.

In September of 1977, she suspected that she was again pregnant, and consulted with a cousin and a friend, who told her that Medicaid would no longer pay for elective abortions.

Rosie had also gone to her family physician, Dr. Homer, for treatment of pain in her sternum on September 19. She mentioned that she might be pregnant. He did not arrange for a pregnancy test or discuss her options with her in any way, but simply informed her that Medicaid would no longer pay for abortions, and let it rest at that. A referral seemed to have been in order, either to a prolife center that would help her with the expenses of continuing the pregnancy, or to the local Planned Parenthood, that could arrange an abortion on a sliding scale and could possibly help her tap into private funds for elective abortions. Dr. Homer effectively abandoned his patient.

The week of September 19, Rosie went to Reynosa, Mexico for some sort of injection to cause an abortion. She had the injection at a pharmacy, and paid $5. When the first injection didn't have the desired effect she returned for a second one. This one left her experiencing nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fainting but failed to dislodge the fetus.

On September 25, Rosie consulted with her cousin, saying that she wanted to find a cheap abortionist quickly. At 7:00 that evening Rosie's cousin brought her to Maria Pineda, a lay midwife in McAllen, who charged $120 to insert a catheter into Rosie's uterus. Fifteen minutes later, she sent Rosie home.

Rosie had pain and cramping upon returning home. Over the next 12 hours, she developed an increasing fever, and had nausea, vomiting, chills, dizziness, and increasing vaginal bleeding. The next afternoon, Rosie was unable to get out of bed. She asked a friend to take her to the hospital where in spite of heroic efforts, doctors were unable to save her life.

The Reaction

Even the Centers for Disease Control, supposedly politically neutral public servants, were poised to place blame on the Hyde Amendment for whatever ill-advised decisions were made in its wake. Rosie's doctors reported the death to the CDC, the CDC notified their allies in the abortion lobby, and Rosie's death was quickly trumpeted nationwide as proof that Henry Hyde was a murderer and taxpayers should immediately resume funding elective abortions to prevent another such death. 

What is particularly telling in Rosie's death is that prochoice groups had been very successful in spreading the word that public funding for abortion had been cut -- Rosie's friend and cousin, as well as her physician, were well aware of this fact -- but they had pointedly failed to also pass out the word that Planned Parenthood still referred for abortions on a sliding scale, and that private funds were available. It's almost as if the public-relations departments of Planned Parenthood and other abortion-advocacy groups had deliberately increased the odds of a tragedy like Rosie's death in order to provide the corpses needed in order to prop up a drive to restore tax monies to abortion facilities.

Frankfort was particularly disgusted with the response of public health officials, who likewise simply announced Rosie's death and began a call to restore abortion funding, but made no effort to close down the illegal abortion practice where Rosie had undergone her fatal abortion. 

Frankfort took it upon herself to orchestrate a sting. She coordinated a dramatic raid, in partnership with Rosie's close friend Diana Rivera, that put the lay abortionist out of business.

The Sting

In June of 1978, nine months after Rosie's death, Diana, accompanied by a friend, went to Pineda's house. The friend was wearing a concealed microphone. Ellen Frankfort and Frances Kissing, then head of the National Abortion Federation, along with a Dallas television crew, listened in from a station wagon parked outside. 

Diana said that she was pregnant, needed to get an abortion quickly before her father found out she was pregnant, and couldn't afford to go to a doctor. Pineda quoted a price of $125 -- $5 more than she'd charged Rosie -- and told Diana to return at 1:30 the following afternoon.

Diana returned the next day, wired with the microphone. She paid the midwife using marked bills.

Pineda took her into a room with a cot and a bed and locked the door. Medical instruments were sitting in a jar of dirty water. Diana later said that she was crying and shaking, thinking of how just nine months ago her dear friend had sat in that same room, looking at those same dirty instruments, and had gone through with the abortion that ended her life.

To stall for time, Diana asked Pineda to describe what she was going to do. Pineda said that she would insert what Diana described as a filthy red rubber hose, which would cause bleeding. Like many safe-and-legal abortionists, Rivera instructed Diana to return to her rather than go to a doctor if she suffered complications. In the event that she did end up seeing a doctor, Rivera told her, make sure she claimed that she'd gotten her illegal abortion in Mexico. She then told Diana to take off her clothes and lie down on the bed.

That was when Kissling, listening from the station wagon, ran to a phone booth to call the police.

When the police arrived, Rivera hid the catheter in her bra and pushed her instruments and patient into a bathroom. Police still arrested her, along with the women who had orchestrated the sting. They were questioned for hours but finally released. Diana later said that when she was sitting in the police station, she cried and cried, saying "Rosie, we got her."

A Disappointing Outcome

Diana's excitement was short-lived. Rivera, who had killed a woman by performing a criminal abortion, was only convicted of practicing medicine without a license. This was a mere Class A misdemeanor. She served three days in jail and paid a $100 fine -- less than she'd charged Rosie for the abortion that had killed her.

"The FIRST!" Of how many?

And what of the hysteria? Had it been justified? Was Rosie's death the first of a new trend of women dead from being "forced" to resort to criminal abortionists?

There was indeed a small spike in reported illegal abortion deaths after the Hyde Amendment (from 2 in 1976 to 4 in 1977 to 7 in 1978). But there was likewise a spike in reported legal abortion deaths as well -- a far larger spike, from 11 in 1976 to 17 in 1977. (I don't believe that the CDC's reported death numbers are accurate, but they're all we have to work with, and more to the point, abortion supporters place great faith in them.)

Lest abortion rights activists attribute this jump to women having later abortions because they need time to get funds, we'll note that the trend toward earlier abortions continued unabated, as this chart based on one by the Alan Guttmacher Institute shows:

Despite predictions of a surge in carnage from criminal abortions, a study by the Centers for Disease Control, "The Effect of Restricting Public Funds for Legal Abortion," found "no evidence of a statistically significant increase in the number of complications from illegal abortions." In fact, they found that while there was no change in the illegal abortion complications, there was a significant decrease in publicly funded hospitalizations for legal abortion complications in cities where funding was restricted, compared to cities in areas where state or local government picked up the tab for elective abortions.

In other words, cutting funds for elective abortions actually had a measurable positive impact: Fewer women were ending up hospitalized for complications of elective abortions. Which strikes me as a good thing, personally. But the CDC remained adamantly in favor of funding elective abortions, asserting in the 1977 Abortion Surveillance Summary, "For at least 1 woman, the non-availability of public funds led to a situation in which she was forced to choose the less-safe illegal abortion because of financial factors." Like the abortion lobby they serve, they never took into account that Rosie had the money to pay for a legal abortion, available on a sliding scale. They especially never considered the possibility that Rosie could get support to continue both her pregnancy and her education. 

The Verdict

So was Rosie's death a fluke? Probably not. The heavy publicity put out by the prochoice movement about how poor women would be "forced" to resort to dangerous criminal abortions probably left Rosie, and some others like her, with the mistaken impression that criminal abortion (rather than birth or even sliding-scale legal abortion) was their only option. Only after the sting, when Frankfort and Rosie's friends banded together, were abortion funds publicized and new ones started. While I recognize the noble motives of women such as Rosie's friends, I retain cynicism about the motives of abortion-rights organizations, for whom these funds serve to funnel money into the pockets of their major donors -- abortion practitioners.

I agree with abortion advocates that the death of Rosie Jimenez was avoidable. But I disagree with them that lack of public funding was to blame. Prochoice organizations had ample opportunity to tout other resources. Prochoice people all around Rosie had opportunities to steer her toward a "safe and legal" abortion, had they chosen to do so. Not a one of them did. And the bigger problem was that nobody ever seemed to entertain the notion that abortion might not be the answer in the first place.

What's additionally puzzling about this whole turn of events is that the facility to which Planned Parenthood referred abortion patients charged only $130 for an abortion for poor women, just $10 more than Rosie paid for the amateur abortion that took her life. 

It's difficult to believe that a $10 price difference put the legal abortion out of Rosie's reach, especially if we consider that the day before her abortion she'd spent $8 on a cake for a friend's baby shower, and when she died she had a $800 scholarship check in her purse. In spite of her friend Diana's urging, Rosie refused to use any money from that check. Diana said that she'd offered to help Rosie come up with the money for a non-subsidized abortion, perhaps with a bake sale. But Rosie had for some reason rejected this help and had gone to Rivera while Diana was out of town visiting her mother.

Rosie Jimenez remains a poster child of the abortion lobby. Their own role in her death is never acknowledged. Henry Hyde is blamed instead -- in spite of his key role in passing a law that reduced abortion injuries among women like Rosie, and in reducing complications, surely also reduced abortion deaths -- in spite of the abortion lobby's best efforts.

As recently as 2021, the abortion lobby put Rosie's daughter on the front page in an effort to promote the abortion lobby. They claim that their motive is to prevent unsafe abortions, but given their appalling opposition to any efforts to ensure that legal abortions are performed safely, I doubt their motives.

Watch "Rosie: The Creation of a Poster Child" on YouTube.


Sunday, October 02, 2022

Kitchen Table Surgery

As I've said before, tales of kitchen-table abortions in the "bad old days" need to be placed in the context of their times, when kitchen-table surgery was the not unusual:

  • House Calls and Home Care: "One account of kitchen table surgery performed by Drs. Eustace and Mary Sloop around 1917 seems incredible by today’s standards. A 13-year-old girl in the mountains of Avery County urgently needed kidney surgery that winter. Impassable frozen creeks delayed the doctors for days, but they finally reached the girl’s home by horseback. They placed the girl on a sterile sheet on the kitchen table and had her mother administer ether. Curious neighbors and relatives pressed in close to watch and kept trying to touch the surgical instruments. A chicken strutted in, flew up in the air and landed on the girl’s stomach. The doctors feared the worst, but amazingly, the girl lived. Six weeks later, she walked down the mountain to visit her doctors."

  • The Dust Bowl Years: "Another dust-caused ailment of the period was ruptured appendixes. Country doctors who encountered a rash of them, were unable to perform even kitchen-table surgery while the dust blew, but without sophisticated help developed their own, drastic, simple procedures for coping. Rather than operating to remove the infected organs, they simply inserted drains so that the pus could run out. Their survival rates were phenomenally high in the pre-antibiotic era when a ruptured appendix ordinarily was a death warrant. Medical journals published later, when the doctors had time to write up their findings, describe the new procedures developed out of desperation. "

  • Kitchen table surgery in 1897: "The medical term 'inflammation of the bowels' is not commonly used in the modern age. In the 1880s it was usually a death sentence. Now known as appendicitis, it is commonly treated by surgery. That form of treatment was first utilized in England in the 1700 and was being performed in big-city American hospitals in the 1880s. It came to Jamestown on Sept. 8, 1897, when Dr. Helena Wink performed the first such operation on her kitchen table. This surgery was performed on Lizzy Stuff, a 9-year-old girl who lived with her family north of Bloom."

  • Halsted: The Father of Science-Based Surgery: "One (dark and stormy?) night in 1882, a critically ill 70 year old woman was at the verge of death at her daughter's home, suffering from fever, crippling pain, nausea, and an inflamed abdominal mass. At 2 AM, a courageous surgeon put her on the kitchen table and performed the first known operation to remove gallstones. The patient recovered uneventfully. The patient was the surgeon's own mother."

  • I have also found a medical journal article from 1901 and a medical textbook from 1921 describing hot to prepare for surgery performed in homes:
    I'd welcome other examples.

    Saturday, October 01, 2022

    October 1, 2002: Coerced Abortion Leads to Suicide

    A smiling young white woman with long, straight blond hair, dressed in white graducation cap and gown
    Stacy Zallie
    Stacy Zallie, then a 20-year-old college student, wanted to become an elementary school teacher. Though she loved children and wanted to become a mother, she went to  Steven Chase Brigham's "American Medical Services" in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on July 6, 2001 for an abortion. According to a post by Stacy's family, she "was the victim of a coerced abortion, which violated her personal, moral and spiritual beliefs."

    Please note that abortion advocates frequently boast about abortion clinics selling abortions to women in violation of their core beliefs rather than direct them towards the kind of help that won't damage their identities.

    At Brigham's facility, Stacy was provided with a "Fact Sheet on Surgical Abortion" which did not address the risks of major depression or suicide but merely recommended that a patient should talk to a counselor or psychiatrist if she thought she needed help after the abortion.

    Stacy kept the abortion a secret from her family, but they noticed behavior changes. Her parents arranged psychiatric care after Stacy took an overdose of pills. Four months later, without saying why, Stacy quit going to therapy and resumed her drinking binges. On October 1, 2002, mere days before she was to serve as a bridesmaid in her brother's wedding, Stacy took her own life after at least three failed prior attempts at suicide.

    After learning of the abortion and Stacy's unbearable anguish afterward, her parents started the **Stacy Zallie Foundation** to provide post-abortion care so that nobody else's daughter suffers the fate their daughter did. The Zallie family takes no stand on abortion, seeking to keep their focus on providing desperately-needed aftercare to suffering women, regardless of politics, creed, or religion.

    The Foundation also notes that there are known risk factors for a post-abortion mental health crisis:
    • Previous mental health issues
    • Being coerced or forced into the abortion
    • Having beliefs that abortion is wrong
    • Lack of family support
    • Abortion for fetal indications
    The saddest thing to me about the Foundation is that -- likely to avoid political hot buttons -- it does not address the problem of high-risk women undergoing abortions without adequate counseling.

    Abortion is associated with an increase in all forms of violent death: accident, homicide, and suicide. Other post-abortion suicides include:

    • "Sandra Roe," age 18, who killed herself using an unidentified means in April of 1971
    • Sandra Kaiser, age 15, who threw herself off an overpass into traffic in November of 1984
    • Carol Cunningham, age 21, who shut herself in her garage, ran her car, and died from the exhaust fumes in August of 1986
    • Arlin della Cruz, age 19, who hanged herself in the woods near her house in October of 1992
    • Haley Mason, age 22, who overdosed on pills and alcohol in April of 2001
    • Laura Grunas, age 30, who fatally shot her baby's father and then herself in August of 2006
    Unfortunately a lot of the discussion about post-abortion suicide turns into a battle between prolifers pointing out the risk and abortion enthusiasts insisting that it doesn't exist. Since abortion enthusiasts also put forth other absurd claims -- such as the claim that 5,000 - 10,000 women were dying from botched abortions prior to legalization, the claim that Kermit Gosnell was "an outlier", and the claim that abortion doesn't impact future childbearing -- we have to look at their assertions with a jaded eye.

    There is one aspect to abortion supporters' claims that is valid: When there is a post-abortion suicide, the woman is usually a patient who already had emotional, mental health, or relationship problems. However, instead of trying to steer those women towards mental health support, they blithely assure them that the abortion will be either a non-event or a cause for unmitigated relief, take their money, get them onto the table, then send them home without a single thought to their future well-being.  They're just as oblivious of whether the woman takes her own life as they are of whether she bleeds to death after they shove her out the door.

    It's quite likely that the link between abortion and suicide is largely because of a common causality. After all, abortion and suicide are both drastic and irreversible approaches to distressing circumstances. Thus, women actively seeking abortions rather than practical and emotional support when distressed by a pregnancy are probably also more likely to seek suicide rather than practical and emotional support when distressed after the abortion. I would expect this to be especially true when the woman reflects that the problems the abortion was supposed to solve are still troubling her. 

    More resources:

    October 1, 1989: Severed Blood Vessels, Hemorrhage, and Death

    Brenda Banks was 35 years old and 13 weeks pregnant when she went to Hillcrest Women's Surgi-Center in Washington, DC, for an abortion.

    The abortion was performed by Llewelyn Crooks on September 30, 1989.

    Brenda went into shock, and was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

    Doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy and transfused Brenda with 20 units of red blood cells, to no avail. She died the following day, October 1, 1989.

    Brenda's uterus had been perforated and several major blood vessels had been cut or severed entirely.

    Her survivors were unable to collect damages from Crooks and Hillcrest because Crooks' insurance company was insolvent, and Hillcrest carried no insurance.

    I have been unable to determine if the Hillcrest where Brenda had her abortion is affiliated with the Hillcrest in Pennsylvania where Kelly Morse had her fatal abortion.

    Crooks was also sued for botching a delivery, resulting in the death of the infant, and for a second obstetric case in which the baby suffered severe brain damage.


    • District of Columbia Superior Court
    • "Woman died after abortion at Hillcrest in D.C.," Defend Life, March-April 2001

    Friday, September 30, 2022

    September 30, 1985: Another Black Woman on the Altar of Choice

    Life Dynamics identified 21-year-old Gaylene Michelle Golden on their “Blackmun Wall” as the woman who died after an abortion by by Dr. Joe Bills Reynolds. 

    Reynolds performed the abortion on Gaylene in his Oklahoma City office on September 30, 1985. 

    Due to a cervical laceration, Gaylene developed an embolism — both air and amniotic fluid in her bloodstream. This embolism killed her, leaving Gaylene’s son motherless.

    The man Gaylene had entrusted with her life was a jack of all trades, doing a variety of elective surgeries, including safe and legal abortions, in his filthy clinic. His primary focus, though, seemed to be liposuction. Perhaps abortion seemed to be an easy way to make money using the same suction machine.

    Reynolds’ anesthetist, age 60, had originally been hired as a janitor, and an untrained orderly was acting as his nurse. The operating room was littered with dirty cups and papers.

    The quality of care at Reynold's facility was appalling

    Reynolds tried to collect $500,000 on his wife’s life insurance after she bled to death after he opened 25-inch incision, ostensibly for liposuction, on September 7, 1989. Reynolds was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and fined $1. He voluntarily surrendered his Oklahoma license.

    ADDENDUM: Reynolds’ daughter, Shelly Reynolds, was charged with performing at least seven abortion without a license at her father’s clinic after he was stripped of his own license. (“District Attorney Seeks Abortion Information, The Oklahoman, July 31, 1991)

    Watch Wife-Killer's Forgotten Victim on YouTube.


    • "Doctor’s Trial Nears In Liposuction Death,” The Daily Oklahoman, Apr. 22, 1991
    • District Court of Oklahoma (OK) County, Case, CJ 87-2991
    • Fatal Pulmonary Embolism During Legal Induced Abortion in the United States from 1972-1985,” Lawson, Herschel W., MD, Atrash, Hani K., MD, MPH, Franks, Adele L., MD, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 162, No. 4, April 1990, p. 986-990

    Thursday, September 29, 2022

    September 29, 1923: Revelations at a Baby Farm

    On September 29, 1923, 44-year-old Annie Allison, a London native living in Brooklyn, died at the office of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard at 114 West 71st Street in Manhattan. Mottard practiced under the name of Dr. Henry L. Green. Annie was a homemaker. Her husband, Herbert Allison, was a music professor. According to census records, she and Herbert had two children Bernhard and Elsie, who were young adults at the time of their mother's death.

    Annie was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, on October 2. 

    However, Annie's death certificate, signed by a Dr. Husson, attributed her death to chronic cardiac nephritis. 

    Two years later, police were investigating 41-year-old Mottard for his suspected involvement in a kidnap/adoption scheme and the disappearance of an infant returned to him after a family backed out of an adoption. Somehow this investigation raised suspicions that Mottard was up to more than just kidnapping and selling infants. They had Annie exhumed. That's when things got really weird.

    During the post-mortem examination, performed on April 17, 1925, doctors found that somebody had removed Annie's brain, heart, kidneys, and other organs. Mottard reportedly admitted that he had indeed performed an abortion but that Annie had actually died from falling down the shaft of a dumbwaiter on his premises while she was there recuperating. She had, he said, mistaken the dumbwaiter shaft for a bathroom. However, there were no broken bones or other injuries consistent with a fall. 

    Mottard denied having been at his practice at the time that Annie died.

    It was revealed that she had died from an abortion. Mottard was arrested on suspicion of homicide. His bond was set at $25,000. That's over $400,000 in 2022 dollars.

    Police concluded that Mottard was running a very lucrative abortion business out of the Manhattan brownstone, bringing in as much as $100,000 a year. That's nearly $1.7 million in 2022 dollars. He admitted that he had performed many abortions and claimed no maternal fatalities. 

    During the investigation, police searched Mottard's ten-acre farm outside the city for evidence of more bodies after allegations arose that Mottard had also performed an abortion there on a young woman the previous January. An operating room and a machine gun were found in the 14-room farmhouse. I haven't been able to find reports that they found the remains of any babies.

    A second homicide case was filed against Mottard by officials of Suffolk County, where the farm was located. They had evidence that one of Mottard's rural abortion patients had suffered the same fate as Annie Allison. 

    Mottard admitted to having performed three abortions in the farmhouse but recanted his admission that he had performed the fatal one on Annie. 

    Mottard told officials that he had come to New York five years earlier from Wisconsin and had changed his name from Mottard to Green because he preferred the name. Records do show him practicing chiropractic in Milwaukee in the first quarter of the century.

    Watch "She Fell Down the Elevator Shaft" on YouTube.


    Wednesday, September 28, 2022

    Are Abortions Used as Birth Control?

    With just under one million abortions a year in the United States, many people wonder: Are women just using abortion as a method of birth control? 

    There are different school of thought on this question. Some prolife hardliners hold that unless the pregnancy is the result of non-consensual sex, or some health problem in mother or fetus is discovered during pregnancy, it's "abortion for birth control." 

    The Alan Guttmacher Institute published a study reviewing why women undergo abortions. Each woman could give multiple reasons, but let's look at the ones where the primary reason would be a "hard case." 4% of women said their primary reason for abortions was concerns for their own health. 3% said their primary reason was concern for the health of the fetus. Incest wasn't listed as a possible reason. Rape constituted less than 1/2 of 1%. This means that just over 7% of women gave health concerns for themselves or the fetus, or nonconsensual sex, as the primary reason for an abortion.

    This would mean that just under 93% of abortions are done for birth control.

    What about women who have repeat abortions? That would certainly seem like those women were using abortion as birth control. The most recent CDC numbers I could find indicate that in 2019, 58.2% of women were undergoing a first abortion, 23.8% had one prior abortion, 10.5% had two previous abortions, and 7.5% had three or more previous abortions. (Note: This is more than the total number of women citing rape, incest, or health as the primary reason for an abortion.) This would indicate that 41.8% of women are using abortions for birth control.

    What about defining "abortion as birth control" as a woman who was not using birth control when she conceived, and she had no intention of becoming pregnant. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 49% of women undergoing abortions had not been using birth control the month that they became pregnant. Since some of these women might not have realized they had health problems, or might have discovered that the baby had a health problem, or might have been raped, I'll subtract 7.5% to account for those cases. That would put the leave 45.3% of women using abortion as birth control.

    Thus, at the low end, looking at repeat abortions, it looks as if nearly 42% of women who undergo abortions are using it as birth control. A slightly higher proportion, just over 45%, weren't using birth control and sought abortions instead. And 93% are having abortions because, for whatever reason, they just don't want to have the baby.

    To look at some of the dynamics involved, I highly recommend Taking Chances: Abortion and the Decision Not to Contracept, by Kristin Luker.

    Here are some resources that provide further food for thought:

    Watch the video on YouTube.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2022

    September 27, 1931: Newark's Tragic Bride

    In early September of 1931, Jane Coult, the daughter of a Newark, New Jersey judge, secretly married John Merrill. The couple had a public wedding at the bride's home on September 22.

    Five days later, Jane was dead.

    She had been under the care of  Dr. Aloysius Mulholland, age 35, from September 24 through 26th before being admitted to Polyclinic Hospital in New York. Police said that Jane had paid Mulholland $500 of a $600 abortion fee. An autopsy confirmed that her death was due to a criminal abortion.

    Both Mulholland and Jane's new husband were charged with murder. Each was released on $7,500 bond. Mulholland made no statement on the advice of his attorney. This turned out to be very good advice, because the case didn't end up going forward.

    Mulholland was later charged with the abortion death of Katherine DiDonato and again remained free. He was finally imprisoned in 1943 after being charged with several abortions which were not fatal to the mothers.

    Watch "The Tragic Five-Day Bride" on YouTube.


    September 27: Cervical Dilator Left in Woman's Uterus, Resulting in Death

    I don't like to dehumanize women by just using initials, so the woman identified in medical board documents as "S.H." will be called "Shirelle."

    Frank Rodriguez
    On September 22, 2012, 31-year-old Shirelle went to Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, for an abortion. There, Dr. Frank Rodriguez pushed a cervical dilator into Shirelle's uterus and left it there. Shirelle died five days later, on September 27.

    It's interesting to note that the medical board doesn't mention Shirelle's death in the disciplinary documents. Operation Rescue discovered the death on a malpractice payout reporting form.

    Evidently the insurance payout was done quietly, since I have not been able to find any newspaper coverage of Shirelle's death.

    Monday, September 26, 2022

    September 26, 1990: NAF Member Abu "The Butcher of Avenue A" Hayat

    The National Abortion Federation promises the moon. Their providers are supposedly the safest in the land. In practice, they don't exactly live up to their sterling reputation. Case in point: Dr. Abu Hayat, "The Butcher of Avenue A."

    NAF member Abu Hayat
    Sophie McCoy, age 17, was raising a toddler son and trying to finish her studies at Clara Barton High School when she learned that she was pregnant.

    On September 17, 1990, Sophie ("Patient C") went to the office of National Abortion Federation member Abu Hayat, accompanied by her mother, Carmen McCoy, and by the husband of the operator of a facility identified as "the Willoughby Avenue Clinic." Sophie had been referred to him, but medical board documents do not say by whom.

    Sophie and Carmen returned to Hayat's office the next day and paid $300 for the safe, legal abortion. Sophie was given intravenous medications which put her to sleep. She was kept about four hours and discharged with another prescription for antibiotics.

    That evening, Sophie was bleeding, had abdominal pain, and was having trouble breathing.

    The next day, September 19, Sophie was struggling to breathe, so Carmen took her to Kings County Medical Center. Sophie was admitted reporting vaginal bleeding, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Dr. Harding, who treated her, discovered that Sophie had a perforated uterus and serious sepsis. An emergency hysterectomy was performed, but Sophie developed disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (a clotting disorder) and septic shock. 

    Sophie died on September 26, leaving her one-year-old son motherless.

    Blue and white logo with text: NAF and National Abortion Federation
    After Sophie's death, Hayat originally denied having treated her at all. But Sophie's mother identified Hayat by name and from a photograph.

    While continuing to deny having treated Sophie, Hayat told one of the physicians who had tried to save her life that she had expelled a fetus at home and come to him for treatment, whereupon he'd sent her to the hospital. But Margie, an employee of his, recognized Sophie from a photo and said that Hayat had indeed treated the girl on two occasions. 

    Margie added that after the second visit, Sophie's mother had called, hysterical and crying. Margie further said that she had seen medical records for Sophie at the facility, and that Hayat had argued with the referring clinic about  payments for Sophie's treatment.

    The case was reported to the district attorney and the New York Health Department. Hayat had been the target of state investigation since 1988, but the complaints against him weren't considered to be of a serious enough nature to warrant quick action. Further investigation after Sophie's death indicated that Hayat might have been using dirty instruments when he performed Sophie's abortion, leading to the fatal infection, but nobody took any action against him until he pulled the arm off an infant during an abortion attempt in 1991. 

    The child, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, (pictured), was born at a nearby hospital. Her right arm was entirely absent from the shoulder. 

    Hayat was arrested, charged with assault and illegal third-trimester abortion, and convicted.


    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    September 25, 1986: The Good Kind of Fake Clinic

    Her Medical Clinic was actually no longer a clinic in 1986. Maria Soto and Michelle Thames had died after abortions at there before the state finally shut the place down. Leo Kenneally solved his business problem by reopening the facility as his private medical practice. He continued to perform abortions, including one that killed a young asthmatic woman named Donna Heim on August 12, 1986.

    Twenty-two-year-old Liliana Cortez walked trustingly into that fake clinic on September 20, 1986. 

    Other than having asthma, Liliana was in good health when she went for her abortion. 

    During the procedure, she suffered a seizure. Rather than take action to address the emergency, Kenneally continued the abortion. There was a 40-minute delay until the paramedics arrived to transport Liliana to a hospital. She died five days later. 

    You can learn more about Kenneally's checkered history by reading "Doctor Tied to 2 Deaths Loses License" from the Los Angeles Times.

    Watch "The Good Kind of Fake Clinic" on YouTube.


    Thursday, September 08, 2022

    September 8, 2009: Planned Parenthood Brings Death to Another Black Woman

     At last Planned Parenthood has decided that Margaret Sanger is too racist for their tastes. At least in public. Her name will be removed from their flagship New York abortion center.

    The erstwhile Margaret Sanger Center is where the unfortunate Roselle Owens met her death. 

    Roselle's Story

    A smiling Black teenage girl with long, straightened hair, wearing a low-cut white sweather and holding up a bottle of sparking cider.
    Roselle proudly celebrating non-alcoholic
    just two months before her fatal abortion.
    Roselle Owens was a vibrant 17-year-old high school student, thinking ahead to college, when she discovered that she was pregnant in 2009.

    She made the mistake of entrusting herself to Planned Parenthood of New York City. She went to the Margaret Sanger Center for an abortion on the morning of April 11. Dr. Gerald Zupnick, who has a history of malpractice, performed the abortion under general anesthesia. The anesthesia was contracted out to employees of Somnia, also called Outpatient Anesthesia Services.

    Zupnick noted in the operative report that the abortion was "uneventful," completing the procedure at 9:20 a.m. Shortly thereafter, staff found that Roselle's breathing was labored and her blood oxygen levels had fallen. A lawsuit filed by Roselle's half-brother on behalf of himself, Roselle's father, and her twin brother asserted that neither Somnia employees, Zupnick, or Planned Parenthood's other staff properly monitored Roselle. The ambulance was not summoned for her until 9:43 a.m., over 20 minutes after the abortion was completed. EMS services transported Roselle to St. Vincent's Medical Center at 10:05 a.m.

    Staff at the hospital were able to stabilize Roselle, but the damage had already been done. Roselle remained on a ventilator at St. Vincent's until her death on September 8. She died when she should have been just getting settled into her new college life.

    Both Zupnick and Planned Parenthood settled off-the-books, thus ending the paper trail.

    Roselle Owens isn't the only woman to die from complications of a Planned Parenthood abortion. 

    No Friend to Black Women

    Taking Margaret Sanger's name off the clinic where Roselle suffered her fatal injuries does nothing to change a disturbing pattern at Planned Parenthood: It's been Black women dying from Planned Parenthood abortions.

    Cree Erwin-Shephard, age 24, suffered internal injuries during an abortion at Planned Parenthood in Kalamazoo, Michigan on June 30, 2016. She sought aftercare from a hospital and decided to stay at her mother's house for a while until she felt better. Her mother found her cold and dead in a basement bedroom on July 4. 

    Tonya Reaves, age 24, was rushed to Northwest Memorial Hospital in Chicago and pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m. on Friday, July 21, 2012. She was taken there from the Planned Parenthood facility at 18 S. Michigan Avenue, which advertises abortions up to 18 weeks. Tonya had undergone a D&E abortion and ended up bleeding to death from an undiagnosed uterine perforation.

    Portrait of a smiling young Black woman with long, straightened hair coiffed casually
    Edrica Goode went to a Planned Parenthood in Riverside, California, on January 31, 2007, for a safe, legal second-trimester abortion. A nurse there inserted laminaria to dilate Edrica's cervx, although Edrica had symptoms of a vaginal infection at the time. Edrica, who had not told her family about the abortion, did not return to the facility to have the laminaria removed and the abortion completed because her mental state had deteriorated overnight. She had became feverish, her mother said. She became mentally "confused and disoriented," not knowing what day it was. Edrica's family took her to Riverside County Regional Medical Center on February 4. After Edrica's boyfriend told her family about the visit to Planned Parenthood, staff at the hospital performed a pelvic examination and discovered the laminaria, along with some gauze. Edrica miscarried that day, and died on February 14 from toxic shock syndrome.

    Wednesday, September 07, 2022

    September 7, 1989: She Wasn't Even Pregnant

    Synthia Yvette Dennard
    Twenty-four-year-old Synthia Dennard, a married mother of two, went to Biogenetics in Chicago for an abortion and tubal ligation on September 7, 1989. The surgery was performed by Inno Obasi.

    Snythia had been described in her high school yearbook as "A pretty young lady with enough smiles to light up the world."

    Synthia began to hemorrhage during the surgery. A medical investigation later found that Obasi had "failed to summon help in a timely manner; refused to allow trained and skilled paramedics to attend to Synthia; refused to allow paramedics to transport Synthia to a hospital in a timely manner," and otherwise "allowed Synthia to bleed to death."

    Synthia's survivors had to file a court order to keep the facility from destroying her records. An autopsy revealed that instead of removing a section of Synthia's fallopian tube, Obasi had removed a portion of an artery. The autopsy also revealed that Synthia, mother of two, had not been pregnant at the time of her abortion.

    The state suspended Obasi's license for five years for cases of malpractice including Synthia's death along with perforating the uterus of Krystal S in 1989 and of Michelle P in 1990. Obasi poo-poohed the board's concerns, saying, "There is a little saying in obstetrics and gynecology that you are not yet a gynecologist until you've perforated a uterus."

    Sources: Cook County Circuit Court Case No. 89L 13692; Illinois Department of Professional Regulation Case No. 80-2096; Cook County Autopsy Report Case No. 125 of September 1989; Obasi v. Department 639 N.E.2d 1318 (1994); Illinois Death Certificate No. 617111; "State acts against Loop doctor," Chicago Tribune, October 26, 1989; "Famous Quotes," Chicago Tribune, December 4, 1989; "Revoke doctor's license, board urges," Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1990; 6/13/90

    Monday, September 05, 2022

    September 5, 1992: The Uneventful Death of Deanna Bell

    Date of service 9-5-92, Uneventful D&C, Thank you [for the referral]! -- Dr. Steve Lichtenberg

    Former abortion facility on Elston Avenue
    It was September 5, 1992. Eighteen members of Deanna Bell's family were gathered in a Chicago abortion clinic at 5086 N. Elston Avenue, wanting to know why the 13-year-old girl was lying dead in a back room.

    Dr. Steve Lichtenberg, who had performed the fatal abortion, left his clinic manager to field questions from Deanna's distraught relatives. Lichtenberg himself had joined the clinic manager earlier in talking to Deanna's mother and sister. Deanna had, they told the family, most likely died from an amniotic fluid embolism -- a known, dangerous, and difficult to treat complication of later abortions.

    It was just one of those flukey things that happens sometimes.

    Somebody at the clinic -- Albany Medical Surgical Center -- notified the coroner about the death. Even though Deanna's death was attended by a physician, somebody thought to order an autopsy. Tests were performed that found no evidence of an amniotic fluid embolism.

    So why was the child dead? She had been taken into the procedure room at about 7:40 that morning, a healthy girl. The abortion had taken 11 minutes. During the 11 minutes Lichtenberg had spent pulling her unborn baby out in pieces, something had gone wrong. She had been discharged to the recovery room at 7:51, rating only 9 favorable points out of 14 for color, respiration, and so on. Her pulse was alarmingly rapid -- between 130 and 135 beats per minute.

    After only two minutes in the recovery room, at 7:53, Deanna was documented as lacking all vital signs -- pulse, respiration, blood pressure. But the first efforts to resuscitate her were not documented until 8:51. During that hour, Lichtenberg said, there were attempts at resuscitation, but nobody had documented them and nobody had called an ambulance so that properly-trained medics could resuscitate Deanna and bring her to a better-equipped facility.

    Deanna "never regained productive cardiac activity or consciousness." She was pronounced dead at 8:52.

    What had gone so terribly, terribly wrong?

    The abortion hadn't gone well from the very start.

    laminaria tents
    It was a multi-stage 21-week abortion that had begun on September 3 with the insertion of laminaria -- sticks of seaweed that absorb moisture, expand, and dilate the cervix. According to Deanna's records, she was "uncooperative" during this process -- which, Deanna's family said, had been performed by a non-physician -- so when the time came to change the laminaria the next day, Lichtenberg did it under general anesthesia. CRNA Larry Hill administered 400 mg of Brevital-- a drug not approved for pediatric use at the time -- when a sufficient dose for an adult would be 70 mg. And during the procedure, Lichtenberg accidentally ruptured the amniotic sac.

    The next day Deanna's mother brought her back to the clinic. During the actual abortion procedure on the 5th, Deanna CRNA Arthur Goode administered at least 250 mg. of Brevital-- at least 3.6 times the therapeutic dose. She was not intubated, as per Brevital protocols. Oxygen was administered by waving the oxygen mask near Deanna's face.

    CRNA Goode and Elizabeth Sturm put Deanna on a gurney and took her to the recovery room. Strum was referred to as a medical assistant although she had no formal medical education. Strum put a pulse oximeter on Deanna's finger and a blood pressure cuff on her arm, then Goode went to anesthetize another patient for an abortion.

    As the lawsuit states, "Before obtaining a reading from either of Bell's monitoring devices in the recovery room, Sturm began to write on Bell's medical chart the vital signs Sturm expected to find, rather than Bell's actual vital signs. This practice is called 'precharting.' While Sturm was precharting, the pulse oximeter beeped, indicating that it was not getting a reading. Sturm removed the device from Bell's finger and checked its operation by making sure the light inside the device was on. Sturm then placed the device on another of Bell's fingers, but still did not receive a reading. Sturm looked at Bell's appearance for evidence of a problem, but she noticed only that Bell was 'a black girl.' When Sturm was still unable to get a reading on on the pulse oximeter, she summoned the nurse, Dolly Barnett."

    Nurse Barnett assessed Deanna and determined that she was pulseless and not breathing. She sent Strum to fetch Goode while she initiated CPR. Goode joined her, using an ambu-bag and supplemental oxygen.

    At around 8:00, Lichtenberg finished with the patient he was operating on and joined Goode and Barnett in the recovery room.  He took over chest compressions while Goode attached the EKG machine. About 15 minutes later Goode intubated Deanna. Lichtenberg administered epinephrine six times and shocked Deanna's heart four times. An expert for Deanna's family indicated that, like the dose of Brevital, the jolts of electricity were higher than indicated for a patient of Deanna's size.

    Lichtenberg pronounced Deanna dead.

    Was the massive dose of Brevital the reason Deanna's heart stopped? The coroner drew no conclusions, merely noting that Deanna had congested lungs, a uterus full of clotted blood, and a lot of Brevital in her system. There were no signs of an amniotic fluid embolism

    Deanna's family wanted answers. They sued. And in their investigation they found evidence that Lichtenberg's staff failed to monitor Deanna. The facility had no protocols for dealing with cardio-respiratory arrest. Nobody on the clinic staff who attended to Deanna was current in their advanced cardiac life support protocols. 

    They also found that Deanna wasn't the first patient to die after an abortion at a Family Planning Associates Medical Group facility. Denise HolmesMary PenaPatricia ChaconJosefina GarciaLaniece DorseyTami SuematsuJoyce Ortenzio, and Susan Levy had already died under the ministrations of Allred and his team of abortionists. And Allred admitted in a deposition that he had never done any sort of preventability study after any of these deaths. He said that he could find no fault with his staff in their handling of Deanna.

    Deanna's family lost their lawsuit in 1999 but won a new trial on the grounds that the judge had excluded vital evidence showing malpractice. In 2004, however, a judge ruled that the case would not go back to trial because of the amount of time that had elapsed since Deanna's death. As of 2005, there has been no update on the case.

    After Deanna's death, Christine Mora, TaTanisha Wesson, Maria Leho, Kimberly Neil, Nakia Jorden, Maria Rodriguez, Chanelle Bryant, and "Kyla Ellis" also perished under FPA's dubious care. That makes a total of 17 deaths I'm personally aware of.

    At a National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar (Lichtenberg is always in attendance, and frequently a presenter), Planned Parenthood Medical Director Michael Burnhill scolded Lichtenberg when he boated of his exploits in performing risky abortions in an outpatient facility and treating life-threatening complications on-site instead of transporting patients to fully-equipped facilities. Burnhill called this "playing Russian roulette with patients' lives.

    It appears that in Lichtenberg's little game, Deanna Bell was the loser.

    Deanna has been dead twenty years now, seven more years than she'd spent walking this earth. Allred, Lichtenberg, and the FPA attorneys stalled the family's lawsuit, and eventually succeeded in thwarting their efforts to get justice for a young girl who died at the hands of a risk-taker.

    Watch "Deanna Bell's Uneventful Death" on YouTube.

    Sources: Cook County Circuit Court Case No. 94L05372; "Girl dies in abortion clinic after surgery," Chicago Tribune September 6, 1992; "Mom sues area abortion clinic after her 13-year-old girl dies," Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1994; "Mother Can Sue Abortion Business Over Daughter's Abortion Death,", June 10, 2005