Thursday, February 02, 2023

February 2, 1978: Planned Parenthood Referral Ends in Death

Elizabeth Tsuji, a 21-year-old Cal State student, underwent a safe and legal 8-week abortion at a local Planned Parenthood on November 11, 1977. She called the clinic in December to report that she was still not menstruating, but staff assured her that the abortion had been successful.

On February 1, 1978, Elizabeth confirmed that she was indeed still pregnant, five months along. The Planned Parenthood clinic referred her to Inglewood General Hospital for a saline abortion.

In spite of its name and licensing status, Inglewood was actually an abortion hospital. And it already had problems. A young woman named Kathy Murphy had died in 1973 of sepsis from an abortion at Inglewood. Lynette Wallace died in 1975 after her doctor at Inglewood failed to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy and simply performed an abortion and discharged her. Still, this was only two dead women -- hardly enough to alarm anybody about a high-volume abortion facility. I don't know if the Planned Parenthood staff even knew about these deaths before they referred Elizabeth.

Trusting the referral, Elizabeth packed a nightgown and told her family she was going to spend the night at a friend's house. That was the last time they saw her alive.

Elizabeth underwent the abortion on February 2, and died that day. Two autopsies were performed, neither of which could find a definitive cause of the young woman's death.

Abortionist Morton Barke was somehow involved, although documents aren't clear what his role was in her death. Barke also worked at the unsavory San Vicente Hospital. He is known to have been a partner at Inglewood and to have been connected with the deaths of Yvonne Tanner and Lynette Wallace. His involvement might have been that he served in a supervisory role.

Elizabeth was the third woman to die after an abortion at Inglewood. It took two more deaths -- Cora Mae Lewis and Belinda Byrd -- for the state to finally take action and close the hospital down.

Watch Planned Parenthood's Referral to Death on YouTube.

Sources: Death Certificate 78-063811, Autopsy 78-1763

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