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Unintended Late Abortions

Not all women who have very late abortions were seeking very late abortions. Some didn't realize how far advanced their pregnancies were -- and evidently their abortionists didn't bother to properly diagnose gestational age before proceeding with the abortions.

"Dorothy," age 23, had an abortion at Family Planning Medical Clinic on October 30, 1987. The gestational age was misdiagnosed before the abortion was started. When trouble arose, she was transported to a hospital, where the gestational age was estimated to be 21 weeks. The abortion was completed. An autopsy on the fetus revealed a well-developed fetus with no abnormalities other than injuries caused by abortion, including traumatic amputation of left arm at shoulder. The fetus bled to death from the wound, with a lacerated area extending over 3 inches long and 2 inches wide. He had been 30 to 31 weeks of gestational age.
Source: LA County Autopsy Report No. 87-10358

Some women have ended up dead as a result of abortionists' choices to proceed with abortions when the pregnancy was far more advanced than the woman had thought. See Eurice Agbaaga, Magdalena Rodriguez, Janet Forster, and Maria Ortega.

"Taranda," age 17, went to Family Planning Clinic for Reproductive Health for an abortion on December 22, 1989. Dr. Karen J. Smiley estimated the pregnancy at 6 weeks and performed an abortion. Four days later, Taranda gave birth to a one pound, critically ill infant girl in a hospital corridor. Taranda's lawyer said, "She's devastated, obviously. She would never have dreamed of having an abortion had she known it was 26 weeks old." Taranda needed psychiatric care after her ordeal.
Sources: The Tennessean 3-15-90; Today's Tennessean 2-2-90; Associated Press 1-11-90, 1-26-90, 1-29-90

"Jean" and her husband visited Hallmark Clinic when they suspected that she was pregnant. A clinic pamphlet indicated that Hallmark used "the most modern, and by far the safest" abortion technique, and that abortions past 12 weeks gestation would be performed by Hallmark's Board Certified or Board Eligible doctors at a local hospital, as required by law, rather than in the clinic. Reassured by the pamphlet, Jean returned for an abortion on November 20, 1973. Because the abortion was being done in the clinic rather than the hospital, Jean believed that her pregnancy was in the first trimester. Harold Hoke performed a suction abortion, then discharged Jean without a post-abortion examination. Jean suffered "excruciating pain and bleeding" at home. At 5AM on November 22, Jean's mother-in-law rushed her to the emergency room, where she expelled a severely mutilated 19-week female fetus. Jean was hospitalized, returned home on bed rest, and was unable to work.
Source: Lincoln County Superior Court Case No. 74CVS247

Fred H. Pulver voluntarily surrendered his medical license at the age of 79 in the wake of allegations regarding his January 18, 1990 attempt to perform an abortion on a woman who gave birth to a three-pound, 27-week baby boy five days later. Pulver said that the woman was obese and had deliberately misstated her last menstrual period in order to get the abortion. Pulver had estimated the pregnancy as 11 weeks. Planned Parenthood Health Services of Northeastern New York, where the abortion was attempted, did not have an ultrasound to verify estimated gestational age.
Sources: Schenectady Daily Gazette 11-1-91, 11-5-91, Sunday Times-Union 11-24-91, 12-8-91

"Francine," age 16, went to All Women's Health Center for an abortion in August of 1986. Abortionist Harold Ticton estimated the pregnancy at three months. Upon removing the fetal arm, he realized that the fetus was actually seven months. He stopped the procedure, but did not transport Francine to the hospital for seven hours. Francine had the dead fetus removed by c-section, was admitted to the intensive care unit, and was hospitalized for over a week. An autopsy on the 28-week fetus attributed death to "partial dismemberment due to the suctioning during the abortion." Ticton blamed Francine, saying that she gave him a wrong date for her last period, which led him to miscalculate the pregnancy as 12 weeks rather than 28 weeks.
Sources: Tampa Bay and State 2-9-92; St. Petersburg Times 5-12-88; AP 8-8-88; Tampa Tribune 8-6-88

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