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"Rosa" Roe, Illegal Abortion Death
Family said she was comfortable with illegal abortionist
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• 1932: A String of Deaths in Oklahoma City
• Chicago, 1928: Abortionist Sentenced to Die
• Criminal Abortion Deaths Uncovered
• Doctors and the Back-Alley Abortion

Legalization did not end illegal abortion. For reasons of their own, women still choose criminal abortions even though legal abortions are available to them.

The CDC's 1976 Abortion Surveillance Summary presents the case of a woman I'll call "Rosa."

Rosa was married, 29 years old, with two living children. According to her family, she had previously undergone an illegal abortion in Mexico in 1968.

When she was 10 weeks pregnant, she returned to Mexico for another illegal abortion. The CDC reports that her family attributed her choice of an illegal abortionist to "cultural familiarity."

A midwife inserted a catheter into Rosa's uterus one day, and removed it the next. Rosa experienced cramping and bleeding, and passed fetal parts. That evening her husband noticed that she was jaundiced.

Over the next three days, Rosa suffered from nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite. She was admitted to a hospital. Doctors there diagnosed her with an e. coli infection. Over the next 24 hours she developed renal failure and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy. The doctors performed surgery to remove her grossly infected uterus.

Rosa's condition improved over the next four days, except for her kidneys. She was transferred to another hospital for dialysis, but she suffered cardiac arrest and could not be resuscitated.

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