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On December 28, 1977, 26-year-old leather shop owner Sherry Emry went to Water Tower Reproductive Center in Chicago for a safe and legal abortion. Arnold Bickham, who owned the facility, did not have his staff do pathology exams on abortion tissues; instead they threw them away.

Sherry was in pain on New Years Eve. She consulted with the clinic instruction sheet and concluded that her pain was normal. By January 2, Sherry was quite ill and unable to arise from her bed. Her worried friends urged her to seek medical care, but Sherry thought that she just had the flu, so she kept to her bed. She slept fitfully, with chills and sweating. She was pale. When her friends came to check on her the morning of January 2, they found her dead in her bed and called the police.

Sherry's fetus had been implanted in her fallopian tube, which ruptured. She bled to death.

The coroner blamed Sherry's death on the fact that Water Tower threw fetal remains away without a pathology analysis. However, the police found that Sherry had a receipt from Water Tower indicating a $50 discount. They hypothesized that staff might have noted the lack of a fetus in the aspirator, concluded that Sherry hadn't been pregnant, and given her a partial refund.

When Sherry's survivors filed suit against Bickham, he refused to turn over her medical records, first saying that they were privileged, then by claiming that they were his personal property and that Sherry's family had no right to them. Bickham was held in contempt of court for his refusal to cooperate with the courts in the matter.

Sherry wasn't the only woman to die after abortion in a Bickham facility. Sylvia Moore, age 18, died after Bickham shoved her out the door of his clinic New Years Eve of 1986.

Even though, in theory, women who choose abortion should be less likely to die of ectopic pregnancy complications, experiences shows that they're actually more likely to die, due to sloppy practices by abortion practitioners.

The CDC report says, "At this clinic the physicians did not routinely examine the products of conception except through the wall of the transparent suction tubing as tissue was aspirated.... The tissue was neither weighed nor examined.... The aspirated material from all patients was collected together in a single bottle." "Autopsy revealed 4,000 ml of blood in the peritoneal cavity and a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.... fetal size was consistent with a 10 weeks gestation."


Sources: The Chicago Sun-Times, "The Abortion Profiteers", November 12-December 3, 1978; Chicago Sun-Times 12-18-79, 11-19-78, 12-18-79, 11-20-80, 11-20-80; Chicago Tribune 11-17-78, 11-18-78, 1-27-79, 1-22-82; CDC Abortion Surveillance Summary 1978; 90 Ill.App.3d 897, 46 Ill.Dec. 315<

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