Abortion Stories
True Stories of Women who Died and Women who Survived


When Abortion Was Illegal
Supposedly Legal, Scarcely Available

Please donate a dollar to help keep up this Web page. Thank you.


When Abortion Was Illegal

Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s range from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year.
Cates Jr., Williard, et al. (2003), "The Public Health Impact of Legal Abortion: 30 Years Later." Perpectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 35(1), 25-8. Rock, John A. & Howard W. Jones III. (2003), TeLinde's Operative Gynecology - Ninth Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Tietze, Christopher & Stanley K. Henshaw (1986) Induced Abortion: A World Review, 1986, New York: The Alan Guttmacher Institute.



Dr. Duemler

That was when this call came, in the middle of the night, and when Duemler walked into the emergency room what he saw, in more places than he would have thought possible, was blood. There was blood on the walls. There was blood on the floor. There was blood on the gurney and on the towels and on the hands and arms of the emergency crew, who were silent now, and no longer moving rapidly. Beneath them lay a woman whose skin had gone pallid and slack, and when Duemler lifted her legs into the stirrups and cleaned some of the blood away, he saw that someone had pushed inside her vagina with a sharp instrument and aimed it toward the cervix and thrust straight up. The blood vessels to either side of the cervix had emptied all over the Air Force emergency room and the car in which this woman's husband had driven her twenty miles, which was the distance between the hospital and the abortionist.

The husband told Duemler they had five children already.

Five children already: Duemler remembered that for a long time afterward, when he was no longer able to summon up the husband's height or the color of his hair or anything except the flat bewildered look on his face as his wife was pronounced dead on the examining table.

Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars, Cynthia Gorney, 1998, Touchstone, New York


Dr. Anderson and Dr. Gerstley

… at Los Angeles County [General Hospital], on any given afternoon during the late 1950s and early 1960s, fifty to one hundred patients at a time were separated off into what the doctors referred to as Infected OB.

Every one of these wards, over the years leading into the mid-1960s, produced physicians whose personal encounters with criminal abortion complications were to haunt them for many years afterward. "Infected OB was what they called it, but it was mostly infected abortions," recalls Gail Anderson, the Los Angeles medical professor who was hired in 1958 as head physician for the obstetrical and gynecological service at Los Angeles County General Hospital. "It looked like a set of intensive-care units, all full of abortion patients. If you can imagine walking into a room where there's anywhere from five to ten patients all attached to tubes or whatever - many times they were jaundiced from infections. You've got foul-smelling stuff coming from their uteruses. You've got shock. And in some cases you'd have patients in congestive heart failure. They'd die, in congestive heart failure, foaming at the mouth."

Gail Anderson walked the Infected OB ward every working day of his tenure at County's obstetrical and gynecological service, and when he took over the hospital's emergency medical department and people wondered how an ob/gyn man could switch so seamlessly to trauma, he would always say: Well, if you had been where I have for the last thirteen years, you wouldn't need to ask. And around the country there were other physicians like Gail Anderson, doctors who had seen enough abortion patients to accumulate detailed casualty accountings of their own: bicycle spokes, umbrella spokes, Lysol, burned holes in the rectum, feces passing through the vagina, the sickest women I ever saw. Ira Gerstley, an obstetrician-gynecologist who joined the staff at Philadelphia General Hospital in 1956, used to recite this list when people asked him about complications from illegal abortion; he tried to care for one patient who was delivered to the hospital with no pulse, Gerstley would say, but who revived for a while and was lucid long enough to plead with him aloud after he took out her abscessed uterus and tried to sew her back together.

"She said, 'Doctor, help me, I'm dying,' and I knew it," Gerstley recalls. "There was nothing more I could do. She never made it back to her room."

Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars, Cynthia Gorney, 1998, Touchstone, New York


Let me tell you about my pretty, wonderful, talented mother. She died in March of 1929 from peritonitis, which resulted from an illegal abortion she had.

I had just turned six when we lost her. She left her parents, my father, and five children. My brother Gerald, the oldest, was twelve. Next was my sister Eileen, who was ten. Rose was next at eight. After me came Constance, who was only eighteen months old when our mother died. My mother was born in 1895, so she was only thirty-four when she died. She was too young! We were all too young, but I guess you are never really old enough for something like that. …

My mother, whose name was Claudia, was a very talented musician, but with five children she didn't work outside the home. She was a full-time mother and a wonderful one. She had a lovely voice and was the first woman to sing on the radio in Pittsburgh. The song she sang was "The Prisoner's Song," and the first words were "If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I would fly." It turned out to be horribly prophetic. She was also a pianist, and she sang light opera in the Pittsburgh area, Victor Herbert and that sort of thing. She also made bread, was active in the PTA, and sang in the church choir. She gave of herself to her community and to her family. She was a good person, and what happened to her was wrong.

I didn't learn until I was sixteen what Mother died of. The official word at the time, and what I was brought up to believe, was that she died of pneumonia. My brother didn't learn of the true cause of her death until about ten years ago, when he was in his late sixties. I never found out why she wanted an abortion or where she got it. No one ever talked about that, not my father or her parents or anyone.

She was pregnant eight times, and it was that eighth one that killed her. I derived this kind of information by asking probing questions in my later years, after I was a parent myself. Her first pregnancy ended in a spontaneous abortion. Then my brother was born the next year. Between me and my youngest sister, unlike the rest of the siblings, is almost a four-year span. In that interval, she had a successful abortion. Then my baby sister was born, and then the next year was the abortion that took Mother's life. …

I did learn from my sister Eileen that Mother used a knitting needle. Eileen was the oldest girl, so she may have had conversations with our mother before she died. Mother lay dying at home for several days before she went to the hospital. Eileen lay on a cot right by her bed and was with her all the time during those several days. My mother knew she was dying, and she said to Eileen, "You are going to be the mother now."

The knitting needle perforated Mother's uterus, and she developed peritonitis and then gangrene. The doctor who was treating her was just our family doctor. He was not a skilled gynecologist or anything. He didn't know what he was doing, and I don't think he knew what he was dealing with either. He doctored her at home for several days. Then one day he said that she was just too sick and he would have to take her to the hospital. She was in the hospital for three days before she died.

We were all there when my mother died - my grandparents, my father, and all five of us kids, even my baby sister. Mother died at seven-thirty in the evening. We children were kept downstairs in a little waiting room, and I remember my father coming down and saying that Mother was gone. Mother's death notice in the paper said that she died of pneumonia, and that is what we all always believed. That was a lie.

Then we had what I would call an Irish wake. My grandfather had been born in Ireland, so that is how he would have wanted to do things for his daughter's death. My mother's body lay for three days in an open casket in our living room. The casket was of beautifully polished mahogany. It was a magnificent casket, and the inside was lined with tufted satin, as if to say, "This is a beautiful place to be." Although dead, my mother looked very alive to me. We children all just stood and stared at the casket. My next-older sister, Rose, said to my baby sister, Constance, "Go give Mother a kiss," and my eighteen-month-old sister crawled into the casket to do so. These are things one doesn't forget. Those images are imprinted on the mind forever. When one's mother is laid out dead like this, no matter how young you are, you know that death has occurred. This made a huge impression on me and on all of us children. I will simply never forget my lovely, young, dead mother laid out in the parlor in her best clothes.

I lost my mother under tragic and unnecessary circumstances. Then what remained of the family was also torn asunder. My father's own family all came up from Baltimore for the funeral. After my mother's death, my father just packed us all up and moved us to Baltimore. Here he was with a full-time job and five children, the youngest of whom was just a toddler. He was lucky to have a job, because it was the beginning of the Depression and a lot of people didn't. So he stayed in Pittsburgh and worked, and we all went to different places in Baltimore.

That move to a strange place, so soon after our mother's death, was a very significant and very traumatic event for all of us. My brother Gerald went to live with my paternal grandparents. My sisters Rose and Eileen went to live in the Episcopal School for Girls, and Constance and I were sent to live with my father's eldest sister, who was a widow from World War I.

My aunt had two boys who were a lot older than we were. They were ten and twelve, and we were just little. They had never seen us before, and suddenly here we were in their home. They didn't like it, and they didn't much like us. Also, they were pretty poor, and when you added two more mouths to feed, it became really bad. …

My aunt was a desperate woman, and it showed in the way she responded to us. She simply couldn't handle two more children. She tried, but it was bad. I missed my mother so much. I was also suddenly deprived of my father, whom I adored, and my maternal grandparents, with whom I was very close. It also seemed like I had suddenly lost my brother and sisters as well. …

Once, in 1950, after I had become a mother, my father and I had a rare and unusually intimate conversation. I had never had such a conversation with him before, and I don't think I ever had another one afterward. I was trying to find the reasons for what I saw as my mother's tragic and unnecessary death, and I said, "Dad, why didn't you and Mother use birth control? You know, it was available then." His immediate response was, "Honey, we never talked about those things." Think about that. My mother had to die because certain things couldn't be discussed! I'm sorry, but that makes me very angry. That was when I drew the broad conclusion, which I still hold, that when we don't talk about things, women die.

My grandmother Sarah was the one who first told me how my mother died. We were standing in her kitchen - a particularly warm and comforting place, I always thought - and I said, "Nanny, how did Mother die?" She looked at me and said, so softly I could barely hear her, "She died from an abortion." I was stunned. I had no idea. …

We were so beautifully cared for before my mother's death and such bedraggled ragamuffins after. "Before" and "after" pictures show a very telling contrast, and they are still painful for me to look at. My parents met on a riverboat ride. They both loved that, and we children loved it too. It was one of our favorite family outings. One spring evening my mother and father were going to take us all to ride on the riverboat. My younger sister was just an infant and too young to be dressed up, but the three older little girls were all dressed in matching navy blue coats with red satin linings. My brother was wearing a navy blue jacket and a tie. We were properly dressed and properly cared for. Our hair was neatly trimmed, shiny and clean, and well groomed. Dad took a picture of all of us on the front porch on a white wicker swing. We are all smiling and looking into the camera. It's true that we were happy because we were going on a boat ride, but it was more than that. We were happy, loved, well-cared-for children, and it showed.

In pictures taken after Mother's death, we all looked markedly different. For one thing, there were many less pictures being taken. And all of a sudden it seemed like we had no clothes. I think my father didn't understand that children's clothes are outgrown before they ever wear out. He didn't realize how fast children grow, and in some of the "after" pictures you see each of us wearing clothes with sleeves that are too short. Everything is mismatched, unironed, and generally uncared for. Buttons are missing and shoelaces are broken. Our hair looks wild and uncombed. I guess my father didn't understand that the way we looked before didn't just happen automatically and naturally. It took a lot of effort by Mother. I don't mean to seem too critical of him. He did his best, but in many ways he was as bedraggled as we were.

All of us siblings married and had children. In one sense, we are all functional, productive adults. However, there is a lingering visible trauma, or maybe a sort of emotional fallout, that we all still carry around. That mahogany coffin is part of each of us.

The Worst of Times: Illegal Abortion - Survivors, Practitioners, Coroners, Cops, and Children of Women Who Died Talk About Its Horrors, Patricia G. Miller, 1993, HarperCollins, New York.

  "Dr. Ted"

During that year, in 1942, I first saw women with septic abortions. In 1942 antibiotics existed, but they were very scarce. We had sulfa. Penicillin was around, but most of it was going into the war effort.

In those days the only available abortion treatment was the same as the treatment for a woman with puerperal sepsis, which is an infection after delivery, except that the puerperal sepsis patient was easier to treat. What we did there was to try to irrigate the uterus - which in a postpartum patient is much larger and more open - with antiseptic solutions in an attempt to wash out or clean out the infection.

With the abortion patient, you couldn't really do that as well, because you couldn't get tubes far enough up into the uterus to do an effective job of irrigating it. The result was that the septic abortion patient tended to be a lot sicker and was more likely to die. There really wasn't any effective treatment for the septic abortion patient. What she usually had was twin problems - blood loss and infection. Even today these two things, without blood replacement and massive doses of antibiotics, can be bad news and are often fatal.

A perforation isn't the only way you bleed to death. The woman could bleed to death from an incomplete abortion. She has the catheter inserted, goes home, and two days later she spontaneously aborts, but she doesn't pass everything. She would be bleeding fairly heavily as her body tries to rid itself of remaining tissue. If left untreated, she will just keep bleeding until she exanguinates - dies from blood loss.

With infection, it usually took the woman several days to die. It would be a death from septicemia, which is blood poisoning. Her symptoms were usually severe pain and ultimately renal shutdown - her kidneys failed. It is what we call "septic shock." The body is just overwhelmed by infection. The death rate was high, but a lot of the ones who didn't die became "gynecological cripples" - sterile or with other chronic gynecological problems.

The hospital had a twelve-bed ward where these women were treated. It was called the septic floor. It was reserved for any patient with severe blood poisoning, but more than half of these beds were occupied by abortion patients. They were pretty representative of the general population in terms of white or black or rich or poor. The abortion patients were just average women - wives, mothers, young girls, mature women. They didn't seem different than the non-abortion patients, except they were often sicker. …

The illegal abortionist didn't do anything fancy like a hysterectomy. Instead, he - or often she - inserted a catheter into the uterus. That wasn't a D and C. The purpose of the catheter was to introduce an infection, because the body's way of dealing with an infection, or with any foreign material in the uterus, would be to expel the contents, including the embryo or fetus. Sometimes the abortionist would puncture or rupture the amniotic sac, which would lead to an immediate expulsion of the fetus.

The problem for the woman was that this pretty primitive technique could also puncture the uterus itself, which could lead to a fatal hemorrhage or to the type of bad infection we talked about earlier.

The Worst of Times: Illegal Abortion - Survivors, Practitioners, Coroners, Cops, and Children of Women Who Died Talk About Its Horrors, Patricia G. Miller, 1993, HarperCollins, New York.


My mother was born in 1899 and passed away in 1932, just a few days before her thirty-third birthday. She bled to death after an illegal abortion, leaving six motherless children who needed her desperately. I was the oldest, twelve, and the youngest was only two.

There aren't words to describe the impact illegal abortion has had on my life, or if there are, I don't know them. I'm seventy-one years old now, and the pain I still feel hasn't faded in over half a century. I lost my mother, but that's not all. I lost my brothers and sisters as well. The world as we knew it was destroyed overnight, and things were never the same for any of us. Some of my brothers and sisters suffered more than I did. I think I did better because I was older.

Some of us were reunited well over fifty years after we lost our mother, and in fact, more than fifty years after we lost contact with each other. But some of us have never been found. Like my mother, they too were lost to me forever as a result of illegal abortion. Even those of us children who finally found each other as adults lost the precious childhood memories of growing up together that brothers and sisters usually have. I feel so incomplete somehow, like some part of me passed away on that same blood-soaked mattress with my poor mother.

We lived in Nebraska. My dad worked in a factory. I don't know what he did, but he made pretty good money. The problem was that a lot of that money went into drink. My mother was a housewife. There were so many children that she could never have worked an outside job. I was the oldest, born in 1919. Next was my brother David, born in 1920. Anna came along in 1922, Ray in 1923, Martha in 1927, and James in 1929. From my very earliest memories my mother always had a baby on her hip or in her arms. I remember that by the time I was nine I was cooking meals, changing diapers, and giving bottles to help her out. When she was in the hospital having another baby, I did all the cooking and taking care of the little ones, even though I was still pretty little myself, because we didn't have the money to hire housekeepers.

My mother was a very sweet, gentle woman. She worked hard and didn't have a lot of time or energy to play with us, but she cooked and cleaned and washed and ironed and took good care of us. We were Methodists, and I don't remember anything about birth control being wrong. Big families weren't a religious thing. That's just how things were in her world. She came from a big family - one of thirteen children. She married when she was about sixteen.

My mother had had several abortions before the one that ended her life. My aunt, her sister, told me about this man in our town who did abortions. My aunt said that my mother went to him when she had a "problem." I think she must have gone to him several times between 1923 and 1927, because my mother didn't have any babies in that four-year period, and that was very unusual for her. I never knew about this man and the other abortions until about fifteen years ago, when my aunt made some remark about my mother going there so many times.

I remember the 1932 abortion like it was yesterday. That evening I had gone out to babysit for a family who lived about two blocks from our house. My mother had gone to bed early, saying she didn't feel well. I don't know what I thought was wrong, but I certainly didn't think it was anything serious. She had cooked our supper and put the little ones to bed, just like she always did. It was early in January and very cold. I thought she might be coming down with flu or something. My dad was working the night shift, so he wasn't going to get home until six the next morning. Not giving it much thought, I went off to babysit. I was to stay overnight, because the people were going to be out until late.

The next morning my dad came to the neighbors' to get me. He was cold sober and looked scared. I couldn't ever remember seeing him frightened before, and that made me frightened, although I didn't exactly know why. He told me my mother was sick and going to the hospital. He didn't tell me what was wrong, just that I had to be home to take care of the littler children. I wasn't terribly alarmed about my mother going to the hospital, because she was always in the hospital having babies and she always came home. Besides, she had seemed basically all right the night before, so I wasn't sure why he seemed so frightened.

When we got home - as I said, only two blocks away - an ambulance was there and they were carrying my mother out on a stretcher. But it was too late. She was gone.

The night before my mother passed away, she promised the little ones that they would have a party. This was the night I was babysitting, and I didn't even know she was sick. While I was babysitting and my dad was working, she talked to the little children and told them - she must have known how sick she was - that she was going to the hospital but when she came home they would have a party, with ice cream. Ice cream! Can you even imagine what a treat ice cream was in a family which was often so strapped for money that beans, bread, and milk were luxuries? Ice cream! They all knew that whatever was happening at the hospital must be really special to produce this miracle.

It was many years later before I found out she had died from an illegal abortion. I found out about my mother's abortion from my aunt Violet, my mother's sister. Aunt Vi said that my other aunt - Constance, my mother's older sister - had gone to this man and had abortions, and that she was the one who told my mother about him. As I say, my mother had several abortions before the one that killed her.

The day my mother passed on, I didn't know what had happened to her, and no one told me anything. Although I was the oldest, I was only twelve, so I guess they figured we were all too young to be told anything. I just couldn't or wouldn't believe she was gone. I was pacing back and forth in our living room, and I kept saying to my dad, "What are we going to do now? What will happen to us?" And he just kept saying, "I don't know, I don't know."

My aunts on my dad's side came over and stayed with us that first night. I slept in the middle of my parents' double bed, between my two aunts. When I got up in the morning, I could see there was a lot of blood on the bed. It was her blood! They had changed the sheets and everything, but they couldn't do anything about the mattress. I was lying in the same spot where my mother had bled to death less than twenty-four hours earlier! Oh, God! I never told anyone this before, and I think I never will again, because it hurts so much to remember. I can't say it, or even think about it, without crying. I see it and feel it like I'm twelve again, instead of seventy-one. …

Life was hard in our family even before my mother died, but I have wonderful memories of her. There was a hotdog stand not far from our house. She would give me ten cents, and I'd go down to the hotdog stand while she put the babies to bed, and I'd come back with hotdogs for the two of us. … We could relax because the little ones were in bed, and that was our special time. She never played with me or read to me or had birthday parties or such like that, because she never had time. Taking care of the babies and the house took all of her time. But those precious moments when we ate hotdogs and talked - those special times and quiet times when I could have her all to myself - were among the most wonderful moments of my childhood. We didn't talk about anything special, we were just together. I loved her so much! …

After my mother passed away, we all went to live with my Grandmother White - that would be my mother's mother. … I liked being with my mother's family because it made me feel closer to my mother.

I had always gone to my dad's parents for two weeks during the summer, so I did that again in that first summer of 1932. At the end of the two weeks I was ready to go back to my mother's people, but then something happened. I don't know why, but my dad appeared on the doorstep with the two youngest children - Martha, who was five, and Jimmy, who was three - and told me that we were going to live with his parents from then on.

That was the beginning of the loss of my brothers and sisters, because after that I never lived with the other three - David, Anna, and Ray - again. Over the next two years I saw David and Anna, maybe two or three times, but it wasn't the same. They were living different lives, and it never felt like we were a family after that.

As it happened, after the summer of 1932 I only saw Ray once more in my whole life. The first time we all got together - the three of us went back to Grandma White's house to visit - Ray was there. That was probably around Christmas in 1932. The next time, the summer of 1933, Ray was gone. … We were told, and I guess it was true, that Ray had gone to live with a relative in Montana or Michigan. I don't even remember where, but it was a long way away from our home in Nebraska. I tried to find him after I was grown up, but I have never been able to, and I have never seen him again.

Anna died about a year after Ray left. She must have been about twelve by then. They said she had something wrong with her kidneys.

Martha, Jimmy, and I stayed at my dad's parents' home for the next two years. …

Martha, Jimmy, and I were really very close, because we each felt that the other two were all we had left. I was the oldest and had taken care of them since they were babies. I suppose that's why they kept looking to me to take care of them in all the different places we found ourselves. People were nice to us, but no one loved us like we loved each other. I felt bad that I couldn't take care of the other three children, but I couldn't.

Grandmother Parker had heart problems, and I guess three children were just too much for her, so in 1934, when I was fourteen, they told me I was being sent to a boarding school. …

Martha was only seven and Jimmy was five when they went to the orphanage. … In 1936 … they were adopted and their names were changed. When I got out of the school, and found out what had happened, I tried to find them, but I never knew what their last names were, so I never could. I knew they had left the state, but I didn't know where they had gone. Like Ray a few years earlier, they just vanished.

By the time they were adopted, Martha was nine and Jimmy was seven. … What I was told later was that the new people wanted to adopt Jimmy but they really didn't want Martha. By then the two children were so close they were inseparable, and I don't wonder, since all they had was each other. The orphanage had separated the two of them before. They put Jimmy out in a new home and left Martha in the orphanage, but it just didn't work out because Jimmy was so unhappy without his sister. So this time the orphanage just told the new people they couldn't have Jimmy without taking Martha. They took her, but they didn't want her, and I guess they always treated her differently than they did Jimmy.

I hear that she had a hard life. I never saw her again either, because she died before the rest of us found each other in 1986. I guess she always felt rejected and abandoned. She got married, and then her husband abandoned her. It made her kind of strange, and she was never right after that. She died in a car accident in 1981 when she was only fifty-four. …

I will never forget that day. It was July 9, 1986, and I had done some grocery shopping for Aunt Martha. I was standing in the kitchen putting the food away when the doorbell rang. I went to the door, and here stood this grey-haired man with a woman and a teenage boy. The man didn't know who I was, but I knew who he was. It was Jimmy! I would have known him anywhere, even though it had been fifty-two years and he had only been five when I last saw him. …

I told him who I was, screamed for Aunt Martha to come, and we all began to cry and hug each other. His wife was wonderful, and I loved her right away. She told me how long it took Jimmy to find us - and how, before he even began the search, it took him a long time to be willing to even try to find us. He had felt very abandoned by the adoption and was hurt because no one came looking for him. He thought he was "given away" and no one wanted him. He was angry at what he saw as abandonment by his original family.

Dear God, I wanted to find him so much, but I didn't know how. Because he was my mother's last baby, he was so special to me! He felt rejected. I didn't feel rejected. I just felt like another part of me died when I lost another person I loved. …

That is what illegal abortion cost my family. Too much. Why did it have to happen? I have never gotten over it and I never will.

The Worst of Times: Illegal Abortion - Survivors, Practitioners, Coroners, Cops, and Children of Women Who Died Talk About Its Horrors, Patricia G. Miller, 1993, HarperCollins, New York.

  "Dr. James"

The complications we typically saw on the ward were severe pelvic inflammation and infection, with pelvic abscesses which had to be drained. Many women got an ileus, or shutdown of their intestines. They had to have a nasal gastric tube so we could just keep their intestines quiet until they started to function again. They would also get a generalized peritonitis. Some patients died of "uremia" - at least that's what would be written on the death certificate, again leading statisticians to miss the abortion connection. Uremia is an extremely severe infection with septic shock and kidney shutdown.

The lay public, reading an abortion death certificate - does the lay public ever read things like this? Maybe their next of kin do. Anyway, the lay public is always surprised to see death due to gas gangrene or tetanus. The public associates gas gangrene with battlefield wounds and tetanus with stepping on a rusty nail. Bacteria in the vagina and cervix, however - even in fairly healthy women - are a relatively virulent type of bacteria. Clostridium, which causes gas gangrene, is an occasional cause of a severe non-abortion vaginal infection. In an illegal abortion, where nothing is sterile, you would just be introducing into the uterus all those virulent organisms living in the vagina. In the vagina, they don't do any harm. In the uterus, they create death certificates.

Hemorrhage was sometimes a complication, although often these women died at the time of the abortion, before they ever got to a hospital. With a perforation in certain parts of the uterus, where the blood supply is concentrated, it would take only a few hours - a day at most - for the woman to bleed to death. If it isn't that part of the uterus, perforation could take several days to cause death.

With a bad infection, the time of death is going to depend on the type of infection. With Clostridium - gas gangrene - death probably comes in twenty-four to forty-eight hours. With E. Coli, the normal organism in the bowel and a common contaminant in an abortion, it takes longer to die - probably days or even weeks.

With illegal abortion, there were lots of ways to die. The lucky ones made it through. The not-so-lucky ones died fairly horrible deaths.

I do recall two women who died from complications of illegal abortions. One happened in 1955. A young woman - she was only seventeen or eighteen - died of a ruptured uterus and an absolutely overwhelming infection. She had originally been admitted to a smaller hospital, but then because she was so critically ill, she was transferred to the university hospital where I was doing my residency. Even with antibiotics, the infection simply overwhelmed her body. She died of septic shock. Afterward there were spirited discussions among the doctors about whether we might have been able to save her if we had done something differently - maybe different antibiotics, things like that. But no one talked about or even seemed to notice the really obvious solution: making legal abortion available.

The second woman I remember probably died in 1957 or 1958. She was a young woman too, but not a teenager. She had had an abortion, and when she was brought to the hospital, she had gas gangrene. She was in shock by the time she arrived, and nothing we did made any difference. She died quickly - in less than twenty-four hours.

The Worst of Times: Illegal Abortion - Survivors, Practitioners, Coroners, Cops, and Children of Women Who Died Talk About Its Horrors, Patricia G. Miller, 1993, HarperCollins, New York.


Joannie Santoro-Griffin

I'm here today because of my mother, Gerri Santoro. She died in 1964. I can't begin to tell you how profoundly and permanently her death changed my life and the lives of my family. But she was just one of countless women who died in this lonely and desperate way prior to Roe versus Wade. They were all someone's sister, daughter, mother, or friend, and my heart goes out to all of them and their families.

The only thing that made my mom outstanding was the publication of a photograph of her dead body, bloody and naked, and speaking volumes of undeniable truth. She was dead on the hotel floor where they found her. Many of you from my generation may remember it.

I once saw it with a caption, "Never forget." But honestly, all I ever wanted to do was forget. But now finally I can separate my beautiful mom from the image that symbolizes every woman who died without choice. How else can we show our daughters and their daughters what can happen to women when they have no reproductive rights?

Speech at the March For Women's Lives, Washington D.C., 25 April 2004.




Supposedly Legal, Scarcely Available

"History has proved that laws do not stop abortion.

"Restrictive abortion legislation does not lead to a low abortion rate. The data show that the abortion rate is high in countries in which abortion is illegal.

"It is the number of maternal injuries and deaths, not abortions, that is most affected by restrictive legal codes."
[Jodi L. Jacobson, "The Global Politics of Abortion", Worldwatch Paper 97, July 1990]



My husband and I are ranchers. I was 45 years old when this happened. We have five children, and my parents live on our ranch also. We work hard, but since the multinational companies have taken over so much agriculture, it's hard to make a living wage. It helps to get Medicaid. I've had a rough year; I'd been feeling ill for a long time, stopped getting my period and gained a lot of weight. After many trips to the doctor - we are 45 minutes from town - I was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Last fall, my husband and I were repairing our roof when I fell 16 feet off a ladder. I felt a "goosh" of water, and seemed like the same feeling as when my water broke when I'd had my kids. I made an appointment to see my doctor, and a week later he said I was 17 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound showed that there was no amniotic fluid left in the sac, but that the fetus' heart was beating. The doctor said that it wouldn't survive, and that my medication for Lyme disease was known to cause birth defects. Because he'd delivered my kids, I trusted him and asked him to do an abortion. He said that even though he knows how and is pro-choice, he couldn't because his hospital won't allow them. He wished me luck, and warned me to get to the hospital fast if I started to hemorrhage, as I did with my last three pregnancies. The last one was so bad I almost died. The hospital is an hour and forty minutes from our house.

Montana Medicaid doesn't pay for abortions, so I tried to get the money together. By that time I was 19 weeks. I raised half the money, and the fund in Bozeman gave me the rest and convinced a doctor, in a place three and a half hours from our home, to do it past his usual limit. But the night before, I started to bleed and passed out. My husband and kids were out in the fields calving. My father found me and rushed me to the hospital. I only know the rest from what my doctor and others told me. At the hospital, they gave me transfusions but they refused to empty my uterus, which was the only thing that would stop the hemorrhaging. The hospital administration wanted to air lift me to Salt Lake City, where they can treat severely premature babies, even though mine would never survive at only 19 weeks. My doctor finally convinced them to give me pitocin to induce labor. Five hours later, I came to but I was still bleeding full out. My doctor wanted to do a C-section but I refused; finally I delivered the fetus. It had died and it was very malformed. It took me months to recuperate at home.

I am angry at what I had to go through. At every step, the life of the fetus was more important than my own life. I'm angry that my own doctor wouldn't do the abortion. Why should abortion be separate from any other medical procedure? I'm angry that the hospital wouldn't let me have an abortion, even with my risks and medical condition! I'm angry that even when I'd lost every drop of my own blood, they thought the fetus' life was more important than mine, even though they all knew it would die eventually.

I'm angry and I'm lucky to be alive.

Legal but Out of Reach: Stories from the National Network of Abortion Funds, 4th Ed., 2003. www.nnaf.org


One of the reasons I decided to have an abortion was I'm in college. I want to become a lawyer. I already have three kids, an infant at home. Having another baby would mean my education would be put off longer, and I'm only nine credits away from graduation. I could start working as a paralegal. My husband, it turns out, was having an affair, and he started to get really abusive; I finally had to get a protection order. My kids asked me not to have another baby, because my older son was getting upset, he had to babysit a lot. I couldn't afford day care - it's $240 - even to look for another job.

I ended up on welfare after I had my last child. He was premature; he has cerebral palsy and is blind in one eye. They told me I could take a six-week leave and they'd hold my job for me. But when I tried to go back, the company only had jobs in [suburban towns] that were two, three hours from my home by public transportation. Having a child with special medical needs meant that if something went wrong I had to be able to get home quick.

In the '80s I had an IUD, but then it had to come out and I couldn't get another one. I tried the pill, but I developed blood clots and the doctor told me I had to stop. I tried to make my husband use condoms, but he wouldn't. I was so afraid I'd get pregnant again, and it happened. I just felt like my life was going downhill … like I was going to become one of those permanent welfare recipients, never getting off and never getting to do those things in life that you hoped to do. I felt that my life would be ruined; I had to have an abortion and I had to have the money to do it.

Just as strongly as I fought at age 17 - when my mother tried to make me get an abortion and I told her if she made me, I'd run away from home, and I signed myself into a birth center and had my baby - just as strongly as I fought then to have my baby, I'll fight now for my right to have an abortion. People have the right to choose. Pro-lifers put out that people who are pro-choice are anti-having babies, and that's not what it means. It means we believe in having a choice and making the decisions about what to do with our lives: to have children if we want to have them, and not to have them if we don't feel that we can take care of them and provide for them.

Legal but Out of Reach: Stories from the National Network of Abortion Funds, 4th Ed., 2003. www.nnaf.org


Rosie Jimenez, 1950 - 1977

A single mother with a five-year-old daughter, Rosie Jimenez of McAllen, Texas, was a scholarship student six months away from her teaching credential. She was the first known victim of the Hyde Amendment, which cut off Medicaid funding for abortion to women on public assistance - women who by the government's own definition cannot afford health care. Too poor to pay for the procedure at a private clinic, she died in agony from a botched illegal abortion.

National Organization for Women, 2005. http://www.now.org/


Fifteen-year-old Girl

[O]n September 25, 1995, an article in the New York Times described what happened to a fifteen-year-old girl when she told her parents she was pregnant. Though her family helped her arrange for the abortion she wanted, "their house was violently invaded by the boyfriend, his parents and friends; their daughter was taken from them in the middle of the night by law-enforcement officers determined to stop her from having an abortion; she was put into foster care, and finally, she was ordered by a judge not to abort the pregnancy."

"Nebraska Abortion Case: The Issue is Interference," Tamar Lewin, New York Times, 25 September 1995, A6.

Cited in "Psychologies of Abortion," by S. Gold-Steinberg & A. Stewart, in Abortion Wars: A Half Century of Struggle, 1950 - 2000, ed. Rickie Solinger, University of California Press, 1998.


Becky Bell, 24 August 1971 - 16 September 1988

Seventeen-year-old Becky Bell died of complications that resulted from an unsafe, illegal abortion, which she sought in a desperate attempt to avoid telling her parents that she was pregnant. Becky lived in Indiana, where the law mandates that young women obtain the consent of a parent before terminating a pregnancy.

Few would deny that most young women would benefit from adult guidance when faced with an unintended pregnancy. Few would deny that such guidance ideally should come from parents.

But unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Some teens live in troubled homes. The family might be having serious problems, or parents might be abusive, or a relative may even have caused the pregnancy. And even teenagers who have good relationships with their parents, as did Becky Bell, might be afraid to talk to them about something as sensitive as pregnancy.

Thirty-five states have laws in effect that mandate the involvement of at least one parent in the abortion decision. (Some states require the involvement of both parents.)

Anti-choice politicians across the country continue to push for these laws with the goal of chipping away at a women's right to choose, under the guise that such laws will reduce the number of abortions. But these laws do nothing to reduce the number of abortions. Instead, they put the health and safety of young women, like Becky Bell, at risk.

Many of the same politicians who push for mandatory parental involvement laws also oppose measures — like comprehensive sex education and expanded access to contraception — that help prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions. They support legislation that punishes young women by jeopardizing their health and safety, while blocking efforts to promote responsibility.

The unnecessary deaths of women from unsafe, illegal abortions make clear the need for constitutional protections from regulations that endanger women. After Becky's death, her parents spoke out against laws that put women's health and safety at risk.

"Becky Bell was a beautiful, living human being who is no longer here because judges and politicians decided that they were going to be the moral conscience of this country," Becky's father Bill told 60 Minutes in February 1991.

In the same interview, her mother Karen said, "Two years ago I would have been totally for the parental consent law, but not now. ... Mothers and fathers have both come up and said, 'Well, we just know that our daughters would come to us, we know it.' And I said, 'And I knew Becky would come to me.' And look where she is."

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2005. Planned Parenthood



"Most commonly, they ingest a whole bottle of quinine pills, with castor oil...we try to get them to the ER before their cardiac rhythm is interrupted...Sometimes they douche with very caustic products like bleach. We had a patient, a teen, who burned herself so badly with bleach that we couldn't even examine her, her vaginal tissue was so painful...."

"Our local hospital tells me they see 12 - 20 patients per year, who have already self-induced or had illegal abortions. Some make it, some don't. They are underage or poor women mostly, and a few daughters of pro-life families..."

If you assume the quotes above come from a veteran of the abortion rights movement, talking about the "bad old days" before Roe v. Wade, when desperate women suffered death and injuries because abortion was illegal, you'd be partly right. The speaker is a longtime worker in reproductive health, whose involvement with abortion started before Roe. But the situations she describes are occurring now.

Jen (not her real name) is administrator of a women's health clinic in the South that provides abortions. She has noted with alarm the recent rise in illegal abortion in her community. For some of the women she sees - after their initial attempts at abortion fail - whether Roe v. Wade is technically still the law of the land is beside the point. The combination of the procedure's cost, the numerous regulations that her state imposes and the stigma surrounding abortion is leading a growing number of women to choose self-abortion or an untrained practitioner over legal abortion. Finding accurate data about the number of cases is almost impossible. However, Jen's abortion-providing colleagues in other parts of the country, who communicate their experiences through a listserv, share her observation of a recent perceptible rise in illegal abortion in their clinics as well.

Indeed, in another eerie echo from the pre-Roe era, the increase in illegal abortion in Jen's area is so significant that a doctor from the hospital mentioned above contacted her. He asked for her help in setting up a special ward for the treatment of illegal abortions when Roe is overturned, because he knows the caseload will mushroom then. "He didn't say 'if' - he said 'when,'" Jen said. "Chills ran down my spine."

Why is all this happening when abortion is still legal? Though the cost of abortion has remained remarkably flat since Roe - the cost of a first-trimester abortion at Jen's clinic is $380, actually less than it was 20 years ago, adjusting for inflation - it's still too much for a woman who, as she puts it, "is on assistance, has two or three kids already and has no money whatsoever." Teenagers in the state where Jen works also need parental consent before they can have an abortion. And for many teens and adult women alike, the overwhelming culture of shame that hovers around abortion prevents many from going to a clinic.

"Reproductive Regression," Carole Joffe, 23 January 2006, TomPaine.com


Martha Mendoza

Martha Mendoza was 19 weeks pregnant and looking forward to having her fourth child. Then she found out the fetus was dead. She wrote:

On November 6, 2003, President Bush signed what he called a "partial birth abortion ban," … One of the unintended consequences of this new law is that it put people in my position, with a fetus that is already dead, in a technical limbo.

Legally, a doctor can still surgically take a dead body out of a pregnant woman. But in reality, the years of angry debate that led to the law's passage, restrictive state laws and the violence targeting physicians have reduced the number of hospitals and doctors willing to do dilations and evacuations (D&Es) and dilations and extractions (intact D&Es), …

Study after study shows D&Es are safer than labor and delivery. Women who had D&Es were far less likely to have bleeding requiring transfusion, infection requiring intravenous antibiotics, organ injuries requiring additional surgery or cervical laceration requiring repair and hospital readmission.

A review of 300 second- trimester abortions published in 2002 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 29 percent of women who went through labor and delivery had complications, compared with just 4 percent of those who had D&Es.

We told our doctor we had chosen a dilation and evacuation.

"I can't do these myself," said my doctor. "I trained at a Catholic hospital." …

And within a day, I started to bleed. My body, with or without a doctor's help, was starting to expel the fetus. Technically, I was threatening a spontaneous abortion, the least safe of the available options. …

On my fourth morning, with the bleeding and cramping increasing, I couldn't wait any more. I called my doctor and was told that since I wasn't hemorrhaging, I should not come in. …

I began calling labor and delivery units at the top five medical centers in my area. I told them I had been 19 weeks along. The baby is dead. I'm bleeding, I said. …

Don't come in, they told me again and again. …

More than 66,000 women each year in the U.S. undergo an abortion at some point between 13 and 20 weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC doesn't specify the physical circumstances of the women or their fetuses. Other CDC data shows that 4,000 women miscarry in their second trimester. Again, the data doesn't clarify whether those 4,000 women have to go through surgery.

Here's what is clear: Most of those women face increasingly limited access to care. …

"Between a Woman and Her Doctor," by Martha Mendoza, Ms Magazine, Summer 2004.


Amber Abreu

Massachusetts state attorneys used an obscure 1840 law to charge a teenage Dominican immigrant with "procuring an illegal miscarriage." Amber Abreu was unable to afford a legal abortion, so she did something common in her home country - she took Cytotec, an anti-ulcer medicine, to induce a miscarriage. The drug induced labor, and she delivered a 20 oz. fetus that was not viable, even after four days of extraordinary medical intervention. She was immediately sent to a maximum-security prison, and it took her family several days to raise bail money from the community. Now she may face murder charges as well, for doing something herself that an English-speaking 18-year-old with money could have obtained safely and legally.

"Ancient Laws, Current Consequences," Below the Belt: A Biweekly Column by NOW President Kim Gandy, 6 March 2007


Testimony of Coreen Costello, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, U.S. House of Representatives, 21 March 1996

My name is Coreen Costello. I live in Agoura, California, with my husband Jim and our son Chad and daughter Carlyn. Jim is a chiropractor and I love being a full-time, stay-at- home wife and mom. I am a registered Republican, and very conservative. I don't believe in abortion. Because of my deeply held Christian beliefs, I knew that I would never have an abortion. In fact, I remember a few years ago when I was nursing my son Chad, I watched a speech Congressman Hyde gave on C-SPAN against abortion. It was so eloquent, it moved me to tears. I even participated in the "Walk for Life" sponsored by our local Christian radio station.

Even now, I am amazed at the fact that I am here. I never would have believed that I would be testifying in Congress, supporting an abortion procedure.

In March of last year, we were joyfully expecting the arrival of our third child. Then on March 24, almost a year ago to the day, when I was seven months pregnant, I began having premature contractions and my husband and I rushed to the hospital.

During an ultrasound, the physician became very silent. Soon more physicians came in. Jim told me everything would be fine but I knew there was something very wrong. I went into the bathroom and sobbed. I begged God to let my baby be okay. I prayed like I've never prayed before in my life.

My husband reassured me that we could deal with whatever was wrong. We had talked about raising a child with disabilities and there was never a question that we would take whatever God gave us.

My doctor arrived at two in the morning. He held my hand, and informed me that they did not expect our baby to live. She was unable to absorb the amniotic fluid and it was puddling into my uterus. This poor precious child had a lethal neurological disorder and had been unable to move for almost two months. The movements I had been feeling over the last few months had been nothing more than bubbles and fluid. Her chest cavity was unable to rise and fall to stretch her lungs to prepare them for air. It was as if she had no lungs at all. Her vital organs were atrophying. Our darling little girl was going to die.

A perinatologist recommended terminating the pregnancy. For my husband and me, this was not an option. We chose to wait to go into labor naturally. We knew that it would not be long. Due to the excess amniotic fluid, a condition called polyhydramnios, premature labor was imminent. I wanted her to come on God's time -- I didn't want to interfere.

It was so difficult to go home and be pregnant and go on with life, knowing my baby was dying. I wanted to stay in bed. My husband looked at me and said, "Coreen, this baby is still with us. Let's be proud of her. Let's make these last days of her life as special as possible." I got out of bed and put on my best maternity clothes, and went out with my daughter Carlyn to get ready for her fifth birthday party. I could feel my baby's life inside of me, and somehow I still glowed. At this time we chose her name -- Katherine Grace. "Katherine" meaning pure, and "Grace" representing God's mercy.

We went to many more experts over the next two weeks. It was discovered that Katherine's body was rigid and she was wedged in a transverse position. Most babies are in the fetal position, but Katherine's position was exactly the opposite. It was as if she were doing a swan dive -- the soles of her feet were touching the back of her head. Her body was in a U-shape. Due to swelling, her head was already larger than that of a full-term baby. I did exercises every day, trying to change Katherine's position so that she could be delivered naturally. The amniotic fluid continued to puddle into my uterus.

No one expected her to survive labor, but if she had survived a natural birth or a C-section, we knew she would have suffocated immediately after the umbilical cord was cut. She had no lungs. She couldn't take even one breath. More and more ultrasounds made that terrible truth clearer and clearer, that if she were born, her passing would not be peaceful or painless. But we kept praying for a miracle, hoping that she would be able to pass away with our arms wrapped tightly around her, hearing us telling her how much we loved her.

We went back to the hospital again and again, thinking I was in labor. We were completely prepared to bring her into the world, with the hope of having her with us even just for a moment. This was my mission. But it was not to be. We decided to baptize her in utero, while we knew she was still alive.

By this time, I'd seen my own obstetrician, two resident obstetricians at Cedars-Sinai, and four perinatologists. Each of these doctors had consulted with other experts. The doctors all agreed that our safest option was an intact D&E, but Jim and I couldn't face the horrible thought of having an abortion.

Finally, after two and a half weeks, I went to my own doctor again for another ultrasound. The polyhydramnios had grown even worse and my husband and our whole family were afraid for my health. I could not sit or lie down for more than ten minutes because the pressure on my lungs was so great. But I wasn't worried about myself -- I only thought of Katherine.

When Dr. Crane performed the ultrasound, Katherine's heart was barely beating. My doctor turned to my husband and said, "I can't deliver this baby. I could try, but I'm convinced we would end up doing a caesarean and under the circumstances, that is just too dangerous." He said, "I have to send you to Dr. McMahon."

I gasped out loud. Dr. Crane said to Jim, "This is about Coreen now." I began to cry. Again I said, "What about a caesarean?" Dr. Crane said, "I can't justify that risk to you. There is a safer way." When I saw the anguish on my doctor's face, I knew that we had no other choice. Dr. Crane supported us so much in our decision to have Katherine naturally, and he knew that we would have to live with our decision for the rest of our lives. When I saw the pain on his face, I knew I had to go. This wasn't a choice anymore. It wasn't up to us. There was no reason to risk leaving my children motherless if there was no hope of saving Katherine.

We drove to Los Angeles. I cried the whole way, patting my tummy and promising Katherine we would never let anyone hurt or devalue her. On the way, Jim was adamant that if we weren't comfortable, we would turn around and leave no matter what. There was no way he would let his little girl's life end in a way that didn't give her respect and dignity. I'd never felt so scared and sick to my stomach in my life. I kept asking God, "Why are you making this so difficult for us?"

We expected a cold gray building . . . we expected an abortion mill. We expected people who cared about me, but not about Katherine. When we arrived, the place was beautiful and peaceful. But when we walked in, I was still very defensive. I didn't trust these people.

The staff greeted us with such warmth and kindness. I was immediately taken in to see Gale McMahon, the clinic's head nurse. We started to talk, and Gale asked if we had named our baby. "Her name is Katherine Grace," I said and began to cry. When I looked up, she too had tears in her eyes. At that moment a little bit of my wall broke down.

Gale explained the procedure in detail. My husband asked a lot of questions. I was numb -- I just kept thinking about Katherine. We then went in to see Dr. McMahon. As he met with us, he performed another ultrasound. I can't tell you the compassion he had for us. He knew how much discomfort I was in from the polyhydramnios and the size of my uterus, and how much we were both suffering at losing our little girl. He was so gentle and kind.

Dr. McMahon immediately asked me the same question Gale had: "Have you named her?" He never referred to her as fetal tissue, or a fetus, or even just a baby. She was always Katherine.

He told us that my condition meant that we had to do this procedure right away. My uterus was far too full of fluid to wait. We asked if there was any way that Katherine could be born alive. He looked carefully at the ultrasound, measured her head and explained sadly how large it was, and said that there was no way it could fit through my cervix without draining some of the fluid. He also explained that due to the difficulty of the position she was in, they would have to go inside my womb and for that, I would be put under heavy anesthesia. With her heartbeat as irregular and slow as it was already, he did not think she would survive the anesthesia.

It was so hard to accept, but we began to understand that it was what we had to do. After Dr. McMahon explained the procedure to us again, I felt comforted. He and his staff understood the pain and anguish we were feeling. I realized I was in the right place. This was the safest way for me to deliver. This left open the possibility of more children. It greatly lowered the health risk to me. Most important, it offered a peaceful, painless passing for Katherine Grace.

For many women, this procedure takes longer, but I went into labor very quickly after Dr. McMahon put in the first set of dilators. When I came back the next morning, my cervix was already dilated sufficiently, and it was time to begin the surgery. I was put under anesthesia.

When I awoke a few hours later, Katherine was brought in to us. Gale gave her to me and said, "She's beautiful." Gale helped me to bond with her. She really was beautiful. She was not missing part of her brain. She had not been stabbed in the head with scissors. She looked peaceful. My husband and I held her tight and sobbed.

One of the things I noticed when I was holding Katherine was that the socks we bought for her were too big. Someone had taken tiny, soft pink ribbons, and tied them gently at the ankles so that her socks would fit. I can't tell you the peace that brought me. I knew they were taking care of her just as we would. We stayed with her for hours, praying and singing lullabies. Giving her back was the hardest moment of my life.

Dr. McMahon and his staff helped us get through the dark days to come. They counseled us and gave us information on help for dealing with our grief -- not just for Jim and me, but for our children, so they could get through the grief of losing their sister, and for our parents, so they could cope with their grief at losing their granddaughter.

When I went back for my checkup, Dr. McMahon was so pleased that I was recovering well physically. But he was worried about how I was doing emotionally, and we talked a lot about how I felt. My arms were physically aching, and he told me I wasn't alone, that so many women feel that way. Your arms ache to hold your baby. And then he told me something I've never forgotten. He said, "People don't want to know that this happens. They don't want to know that there are babies born with their brains outside their skulls, that there are babies for whom life is not a gift but only cruelty and pain and death. They don't want to know what families like yours have to suffer." I didn't realize just how true that was until I came here.

I know how many of you feel about abortion, because that's how I felt. I still am against abortion. Before this happened to me, I had a friend who had something terrible like this happen in a pregnancy she'd wanted very much. I tried to be empathetic and I never said anything to her that was not kind, but in my heart there was a part of me that judged her. I knew that I would never make that decision. I don't judge anymore

.When I lost Katherine, I was devastated. For some reason God chose not to give her the gift of life. But losing her taught me how precious that gift of life is. I have my health, I have the ability to walk, to run, to enjoy life with my husband and my wonderful children. That is the gift that Dr. McMahon's procedure gave me and I am grateful for that every day of my life.

Because of the safety of this procedure, I am now pregnant again and will have another baby in June. Thanks to the grace of God and the skill and compassion of Dr. McMahon, I can have another healthy baby. If you outlaw this surgical procedure, other women like me will be denied that gift, that joy. They may lose their ability to have more children; they may lose their health; they may lose their lives. The child that I carry today is by no means a replacement for Katherine. There will always be a hole in our hearts where she should be, but this baby is a sign that life goes on and that God is good.

Someday, we'll tell our little boy or girl this story. We'll talk about Katherine, and how she changed our lives -- and how, in a way, she went to Washington. We'll talk about how, even though her life ended before it could really begin, the way she left this world allowed us to have this new miracle. We pray that this story has a happy ending. We pray to be able to tell Chad, Carlyn and their little brother or sister that when Congress heard, really heard, the truth about the surgery that helped their Mom, the members of Congress realized that they had no business doing what they were trying to do. They knew that they could never understand. We didn't understand before. Now we do. I pray that you will understand as well and put a stop to this terrible bill. When you vote on this bill again, please remember me. Remember my face, remember my name, remember my family and the child I am carrying.



Fake "Clinic" Cons 17-Year-Old Girl

An Indiana mother recently accompanied her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to one of Indiana's Planned Parenthood clinics, but they unwittingly walked into a so-called "crisis pregnancy center" run by an anti-abortion group, one that shared a parking lot with the real Planned Parenthood clinic and was designed expressly to lure Planned Parenthood patients and deceive them.

The group took down the girl's confidential personal information and told her to come back for her appointment, which they said would be in their "other office" (the real Planned Parenthood office nearby). When she arrived for her appointment, not only did the Planned Parenthood staff have no record of her, but the police were there. The "crisis pregnancy center" had called them, claiming that a minor was being forced to have an abortion against her will.

The "crisis pregnancy center" staff then proceeded to wage a campaign of intimidation and harassment over the following days, showing up at the girl's home and calling her father's workplace. Planned Parenthood's clinic director reports that the girl was "scared to death to leave her house." They even went to her school and urged classmates to pressure her not to have an abortion.

The anti-choice movement is setting up these "crisis pregnancy centers" across the country. Some of them have neutral-sounding names and run ads that falsely promise the full range of reproductive health services, but they dispense anti-choice propaganda and intimidation instead. And according to a recent article in The New York Times, there are currently more of these centers in the U.S. than there are actual abortion providers. What's more, these centers have received $60 million in government grants. They're being funded by our tax dollars.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 24 April 2006



Watch her video here: http://youtu.be/VX4vuJ3K-oY
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 16 March 2010



Please donate a dollar to help keep up this Web page. Thank you.


"One in three American women will have an abortion in her lifetime."
Feminist Women's Health Center
Many Voices - Many Choices

Voices of Choice
Physicians Who Provided Abortions Before Roe v. Wade

March For Women's Lives

Why I Am Pro-Choice: The Morality of Abortion Rights


Provided as a not-for-profit educational service.
Amber Dragonfly Press