Friday, November 04, 2022

November 4, 1977: What the Hell Was He Thinking?

Newspaper clipping showing headwhot of a middle aged white man with a receeding hairline, wearing a suit

Louchrisser Jackson, a 23-year-old married homemaker and mother of five, was 12 weeks pregnant when she went to Dr. Robert L. Gardner for a safe and legal abortion at Reproductive Services in Dallas on November 4, 1977.

Louchrisser began hemorrhaging. Gardner said that he ordered blood for a transfusion, but it didn't arrive so about an hour before her death he attempted to give her a transfusion with his own blood -- which turned out to be an incompatible type.

A private ambulance was called but was not informed of the nature of the transport. In that jurisdiction, private ambulances are only permitted to transport stable patients; they are prohibited from responding to emergency calls. Because the ambulance service had no reason to expect an emergency, they did not respond promptly, nor did they refer the transport to the fire department's ambulance service.

When the ambulance crew arrived, Louchrisser had gone into cardiac arrest. The crew, upon discovering that they'd been called for an emergency transport, rushed Louchrisser to the hospital immediately rather than calling for a fire department ambulance.

Louchrisser was transferred to Oak Cliff Medical and Surgical Hospital, where she died that day. Gardner requested that the body be released without an inquiry. Another physician at the hospital learned of the case and requested an inquiry.

The autopsy found massive hemorrhage of at least two liters of blood, and a "1.8 x 2 cm. ragged perforation in the right lateral wall just above the internal os of the cervical canal. This perforation communicates freely with the retroperitoneal space on the right side. The endometrial surface of the uterus is ragged and hemorrhagic." Death was attributed to "massive retroperitoneal hemorrhage due to perforation of the uterus during a therapeutic abortion."

After another patient, 21-year-old Claudia L., petitioned the state to close the clinic, it was revealed that:
  • The clinic was allowing counselors with no medical degree to give medical advice and perform medical procedures.
  • Staff were not informing patients of risks.
  • There was not emergency equipment on hand.
Gardner himself testified against the clinic, stating that they ran "an assembly-line operation." "Gardner admitted the clinic took only one or two minutes between operations, and used black-tarnished surgical instruments and 'switched sterile gloves between operations but never scrubbed down.'"

  • Death certificate
  • Dallas Times Herald June 20, 1978; Dallas Morning News June 20, 1978, June 23, 1978, and July 28, 1978; Texas Autopsy Report No. 2262-77-1103

Watch the YouTube video.

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