Benjamin Munson was tried for manslaughter in the abortion death of 28-year-old Linda Padfield in 1973.
Munson had performed the safe and legal abortion on Linda on June 15 at his South Dakota abortion facility. He discharged her, and she later was hospitalized. She finally died of massive infection on June 18.
A pathologist found the remains of a five-month fetus in Linda's uterus, missing a leg, arm, part of its skull and part of its torso. The retained fetus caused the massive infection that had killed Linda.
Munson sued to enjoin prosecution, but the case went to court nevertheless.
The prosecution focused on the fact that infection will inevitably result from that much retained tissue. The Attorney General commented, "You take a three-inch leg off something, you have to know that there's more in there than just the leg."
American Medical News 8-29-77; AMA News 12-12-77, 1-23-78; Minneapolis Tribune 10-21-77
The defense, however, argued that infection is an accepted risk of abortion, and that the state couldn't prove that Munson meant to harm Linda. The jury bought it, and Munson was aquitted. He later became a member of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). In 1985, he sent a teenage patient, Yvonne Mesteth, home with retained tissue. She, like Linda Padfield, died of infection. Again Munson was prosecuted for manslaughter, and again he beat the rap.
Personal communication with SD Attorney General's office.
Munson is the third former criminal abortionist I've learned of who had a clean record -- no patient deaths -- as a criminal abortionist, only to go on to kill two patients in his legal practice. The others are Milan Vuitch (Georgianna English and Wilma Harris) and Jesse Ketchum (Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner).
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