Tuesday, October 10, 2023

October 10, 1970: Fetus Shoved Through Hole in Uterus

 Twenty-three-year-old Maria Hernandez Ortega, a citizen of Guatemala, had been living in the United States with her husband, Luis, for eight months in October of 1970. They'd lived in Queens until mid-August, when they had relocated to Boston.

Maria and Luis traveled back to New York and stayed with a friend so that Maria could take advantage of New York's new law legalizing abortion on demand.

The abortion, a suction curettage, was performed by Dr. Armida Zepeda in her New York office at about 5 p.m. on October 10. 

Zepeda had estimated the pregnancy to be two months. After trying for about 20 minutes, she was unable to extract the fetus. She concluded that Maria had not been pregnant after all, and sent her home. Maria and Luis returned to the friend's apartment.

At 10:00 that night, Maria died in her friend's home. It turned out that she had actually been at least four months pregnant, not two months. Zepeda had pushed the fetus through the uterine wall into Maria's abdominal cavity. Maria had bled to death.

Maria's death was the tenth known abortion death in New York City since abortion had been legalized on July 1. City officials attributed four of those deaths to criminal abortions, but news coverage did not elaborate on how they distinguished between legal and illegal abortions. Public health officials reviewing the situation decided to forbid any more abortions to be performed in doctors' offices, though they could still be performed in outpatient clinics.


No comments: