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Vivian Campbell
NOW attributes her death to illegal abortion
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According to the National Organization for Women web site, Vivian Campbell was a recently-separated 24-year-old mother of two when she discovered she was pregnant. NOW indicates that Vivian sent her children to stay with her parents while she obtained some sort of illegal abortion. NOW provides no details of the abortion. NOW does say that Vivian asked for her estranged husband, who came to the hospital only after she had died of peritonitis on May 6, 1950.

NOW does not indicate if Vivian's abortion was self-induced, done by an amateur, or done by a nurse or similar practitioner -- which would be unusual -- or by a doctor, as was the case with perhaps 90% of criminal abortions.

In Patricia Miller's The Worst of Times

the chapter "Gloria" has a woman telling of her mother's death. The following facts match:

There are some differences:

Gloria indicated that she learned "the truth" of how her mother died when she needed a copy of the death certificate years later. The death certificate said "spontaneous abortion". Gloria clearly doesn't understand that this means a miscarriage; she took this as proof that her mother had obtained some sort of illegal abortion, much like Bill and Karen Bell misunderstood the word "abortion" on their daughter Becky's autopsy cover page, thought it meant an induced abortion, and assumed that it must have been a criminal or self-induced abortion.

NOW's researchers certainly should have known that a "spontaneous abortion" is a miscarriage, and would have nothing to do with any sort of "back alley abortion". Ditto for Patricia Miller. Ditto for the people who drag Bill and Karen Bell around the country, propping them up in front of microphones as human shields for their own agenda.

This obituary of retired Pittsburgh Police CommanderGwendolyn J. "Gwen" Elliott says that Gwen's mother was Vivian Campbell and died of a "botched abortion" when Gwen was 5, but Gwen didn't find out until she was an adult. This means that Gwen was almost certainly "Gloria" in Miller's book. Since it's an obituary, there was no fact-checker. But again, NOW and Patricia Miller should have had sense enough to know that a "spontaneous abortion" is a miscarriage.

I'd welcome any verifying information on Mrs. Campbell's death. After all, NOW also claims that Becky Bell died from complications of an illegal abortion. (There was no evidence that Becky's pregnancy had been tampered with in any way.)

Illegal by Doctors Illegal by Paramedical Illegal by Amateurs Self Induced

During the 1950s, we see an anomaly: Though maternal mortality had been falling during the first half of the 20th Century, and abortion mortality in particular had been plummeting, the downward trend slowed, then reversed itself briefly. I have yet to figure out why. For more, see Abortion Deaths in the 1950's.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion


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