Is a return to ‘back-alley’ abortions now in sight?
My patient was a 21-year-old woman admitted to the hospital with “the flu.” She had a three-day history of fever and not feeling well. She had no other complaints. She did not have a history of any other medical problems. Her temperature was elevated at 102 degrees. The remainder of the physical examination was normal. Laboratory studies showed an increased white cell count, indicating an acute infection. Other laboratory studies and a chest X-ray were all normal.
Several hours later, her temperature increased to 104 degrees. She began experiencing shaking chills, and her blood pressure dropped significantly. She was in septic shock. She was transferred to the intensive-care unit. Multiple tests were performed, but we still could not find the source of her infection. We gave her massive doses of intravenous antibiotics. Ten hours after admission, she had a full cardiac arrest. We worked on her for 45 minutes. Ultimately, our resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and she died.
We obtained a post-mortem examination. It indicated that she had had an attempted illegal abortion in a nonmedical facility prior to coming to the hospital. However, because of fear and shame, she did not tell this to us. Unfortunately, the complete fetus had not been expelled during the illegal abortion. This produced the massive infection which caused her death. The year was 1970, three years before the Roe v. Wade decision which allowed legal abortion.
If abortion becomes illegal again (“Even if Roe stands, abortion rights could be cut,” July 10), will we have “déjà vu all over again?” How many more women will die attempting to have a “back-alley abortion?”