Wednesday, August 17, 2022

August 17, 1978: When a Criminal Abortionist Opens a Safe, Legal Clinic

Marina Deschapell, age 34, went to the Miami abortion facility at 620 SW 1st Street for a safe and legal six to eight week abortion on August 17, 1978. She reportedly chose abortion because she feared that her health problems had harmed the unborn baby. Marina, a newlywed, was pregnant for the first time.

Anna Barquet
Wife of Clinic Owner

Dr. Eduardo F. Elias, age 69, administered Valium and Xylocaine for the abortion. He was being assisted by Anna West Barquet, age 53, wife of the clinic's owner, Luis Barquet. Mrs. Barquet had been arrested along with her future husband in the 1960s for helping him run a criminal abortion ring.

Sixty to 90 seconds after the procedure, Elias noticed that Marina was not breathing. He initiated CPR, and Mrs. Barquet called Dr. Jose Suarez, the doctor who had referred Marina for the abortion. Marina's husband, Fernando, was waiting at Suarez's office. 

Somebody summoned the Miami Fire Department rescue squad. The ambulance crew found Marina with no signs of life. They attempted to resuscitate her, but, Miami Homicide Sergeant Gerald Green said, "When they got there she was too far gone." They transported Marina to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Fernando, a construction worker, was "extremely upset and overcome by shock and disbelief," police told The Miami Herald.

The medical examiner did not attribute Marina's death directly to the abortion, but rather to "an idiosyncratic reaction" to the drugs administered. Sgt. Green said, "The office was clean, and it was well-equipped for an abortion that goes according to plan. But, other than an air bag, there was really no equipment if an emergency occurred."

At the time of Marina's death, Luis Barquet, age 58, was serving a year's sentence for 10 counts of unlawful practice of medicine, grand larceny, and illegal abortion. This was related to his arrest in 1976 for operating an abortion clinic illegally. Barquet was performing abortions without a medical license. He was charged with four counts of involuntary sexual battery for examinations he performed on women under the pretense that he was a doctor. Those charges carried a possible sentence of life in prison. Barquet's attorneys countered that he should have only been charged with practicing medicine without a license. Barquet's son continued to operate the clinic, with Elias performing the abortions. 

Barquet had originally moved to Miami from Cuba in 1961 and was promptly arrested for running a criminal abortion mill. The International Association of Chiefs of Police released a study describing Barquet as "a butcher" who ran a protected abortion syndicate. He was ordered to leave the United States in 1963, which he did only to return a few days later. He was indicted in a bribery case in New York in 1965 and fled the state. He was captured in Miami Springs in 1966 while perpetrating illegal abortions in a motel. Barquet used this arrest to challenge Florida's 104-year-old abortion law, and got a ruling in his favor in 1972. Barquet, a long-time back-alley abortionist who had no women's deaths that I have learned of in his criminal practice, thus paved the way for the Florida abortion free-for-all that has led to so many women's deaths from the presumably safe, legal kind of abortion.

Watch "Criminal Abortionist Runs Safe Clinic" on YouTube.


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