In October of 1984, 14-year-old Sandra Kaiser went to a Planned Parenthood with her 21-year-old half-sister, Karen Flynn. The test was positive, and Sandra told Karen she wanted an abortion. Karen made an appointment and took Sandra to Reproductive Health Services (RHS) for a safe and legal abortion.
Karen later said that during the counseling session, Sandra did not seem ambivalent, and said that she thought she was too young to have a child. Sandra also lied, saying that her mother knew of the abortion plan, approved of it, and had provided the money to pay for it. Three days later, Karen brought Sandra back to RHS for the abortion.
It is important to note that Sandra had already led a very troubled life. At age 7 she witnessed the stabbing death of one of her half-brothers. At age 11 she was diagnosed with a conduct disorder. By age 12 her problems included drinking alcohol, running away from home, temper outbursts, skipping school, crying, and nightmares about her brother's death. She was hospitalized at least twice and had received outpatient therapy and medication. She was, in short, a high-risk abortion patient, likely to suffer severe psychological after-effects.
Sandra signed the consent form, and Karen signed in the space for parent/guardian. The two sisters also filled out the other paperwork for the abortion. They checked "No" in answer to the question, "Have you ever been hospitalized other than for childbirth." Karen later said that they checked "No" despite Sandra's psychiatric hospitalization because she believed the question only pertained to hospitalization for physican ailments.
Sandra was then shown a film called First Trimester Informed Consent. The film said, "A few women have negative emotional feelings after an abortion. You may feel slightly depressed, but those feelings are normal. .. [S]evere depression is not to be expected. If you are severely depressed after this abortion, it may be that your feelings about ending a pregnancy have not yet been completely resolved."
After the abortion, Sandra holed up in her room a lot, crying. About three weeks after the abortion, Sandra's mother overheard Sandra talking to her boyfriend on the phone. The boyfriend had supposedly gotten another girl pregnant. Sandra said that she was going to go jump off a bridge. Half an hour later, Sandra went to an overpass and leaped into traffic.
The driver of the car that hit her stopped and stood by Sandra, waving his arms to alert oncoming traffic to her presence in the road. The driver behind him stopped his car as well, and began flashing his headlinghts and sounding his horn to alert traffic. A woman driving an oncoming car saw the man waving his arms, and the car with lights flashing, and became confused and alarmed. She drove past them, running over Sandra.
Upon arriving at her destination, this driver told a friend of the strange event. The friend suggested that they return to the scene to find out what had happened. By the time they arrived, the police had arrived, Sandra was being loaded into an ambulance, and somebody had found Sandra's mother and brought her to the scene. The woman driver told the police what had happened, and no charges were brought against her.
Sandra died later of multiple internal injuries.
Sandra's mother sued RHS for her daughter's death, charging that they had failed to contact the her mother in compliance with the law. An expert noted that at the time of Sandra's death, she had been depressed for several weeks, that the suicide was a direct consequence of this depression, and that the abortion was the "straw that broke the camel's back." The judge ruled that Sandra's mother and her witnesses failed to prove that the clinic had been negligent in exploring Sandra's history, and that Sandra had not been proved to have killed herself due to an uncontrollable impulse. To add insult to injury, the suicide had occurred during the time that the Missouri law governing consent of minors to abortion was enjoined by the Federal courts, so the law to protect Sandra and girls like her did not apply.
Sources: Eidson v. Reproductive Health Services, 863 S.W.2d 621 (Mo. App. E.D., 1993), accident report
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