Friday, May 17, 2024

May 17, 1972: A College Student's Fatal Journey

It was May of 1972. Pamela Modugno, an 18-year-old unmarried college student living in Medford, Massachusetts, was pregnant. She decided that the best course of action would to be to go to New York to take advantage of their more liberal abortion law.

On Wednesday, May 17, Pamela went to Monsey Medical Center. Monsey had opened on with much local fanfare on July 3, 1970 two days after abortion-on-demand was legalized in the state.  The director, Dr. Lester Lando, was a licensed OB/GYN.

Pamela assumed that by going to a legal, openly operating abortion facility she'd be safe. She wasn't. During the abortion she went into cardiac arrest and died.

County Medical Examiner Dr. Frederick Zugibe determined that an air embolism had caused Pamela's heart to stop. He postulated that reverse air pressure from a suction unit might have blown air into her bloodstream instead of suctioning out the fetus.

Pamela was the second death from a safe, legal abortion in the county since New York liberalized the abortion laws effective July 1, 1970. The first, Edith Clark, had died on June 24, 1971. Like Pamela, she went into cardiac arrest and died during the procedure.

Pam's father, Thomas Modugno sued for negligence in how the abortion was performed and under the theory that the abortion was "assault and trespass" against Pam because at the time of the abortion, no surgery was permitted on an unmarried patient under the age of 21 without parental consent except in an emergency.

Pam is identified as "Danielle" in Life Dynamics' list of safe, legal abortion deaths.

Watch College Student's Fatal Journey on YouTube.


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