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Gwendolyn Drummer, Safe and Legal Abortion Death
Despite warnings, doctor chose high-risk abortion method
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Fifteen-year-old Gwendolyn Drummer was a student at Harry Ellis High in Richmond, California, when she was admitted to Doctor’s Hospital of Pinole for a safe and legal abortion, to be performed January 28, 1972. Her doctor chose the saline abortion method.

These abortions are performed by replacing amniotic fluid with a strong salt solution. In the decades after WWII, saline was being abandoned in countires where abortion was legal, in favor of safer methods. But as laws loosened up in the US, American docors adopted the method. A British study published in 1966 found that the saline would enter the mother's bloodstream and cause brain damage. Swedish researchers noticed an unacceptably high rate of complications and deaths. Sweden and the Soviet Union followed Japan in abandoning saline abortion as too dangerous by the late 1960s.

Gwendolyn's doctor injected the saline into her utuerus. It got into Gwendolyn's blood stream, just as British, Japanese, Soviet, and Swedish doctors had repeatedly warned it could do. Gwendolyn suffered organ damage. She developed pneumonia, and died on January 31.

Hear Gwendolyn's story in a minute:


Sources: California Certificate of Death, File # 72-032193; Contra Costa County (CA) Coroner’s Report, Case # CR-72-122

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