Christina Dunigan at RealChoice has a post on the anniversary of the death of Erika Peterson, who died while undergoing a legal abortion meant to save her life:
Erika Peterson, age 28, died July 23, 1961 during a legal abortion at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California. At this time, abortion was only legal in California if it was done to save the life of the mother.
Erika had entered the hospital on July 11, 1961 during the first trimester of pregnancy, because of problems breathing. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed in a tank respirator. Her physicians made the decision to abort her child as soon as she was well enough to undergo the abortion. On July 21st, Erika’s condition was improved, and her husband signed the consent form for the abortion, which was scheduled to take place two days later. Erika went into cardiac arrest during the abortion and was unable to be resuscitated. The abortion that was intended to save her life ended her life instead. After autopsy, it was believed that Erika’s original illness was caused by a hereditary disease that was exacerbated by the medications she was taking for her schizophrenia.
She also links to the stories of five other women who died while undergoing “lifesaving” abortions.
Dr. Anthony Levatino, an ob-gyn who formerly performed abortions and has treated women with high-risk pregnancies, testified before a Congressional Subcommittee in May that late-term abortion is not a viable option for women with life-threatening conditions:
Before I close, I want to make a comment on the necessity and usefulness of utilizing second and third trimester abortion to save women’s lives. I often hear the argument that we must keep abortion legal in order to save women’s lives in cases of life threatening conditions that can and do arise in pregnancy.
Albany Medical Center, where I worked for over seven years, is a tertiary referral center that accepts patients with life threatening conditions related to or caused by pregnancy. I personally treated hundreds of women with such conditions in my tenure there. There are several conditions that can arise or worsen typically during the late second or third trimester of pregnancy that require immediate care. In many of those cases, ending or “terminating” the pregnancy, if you prefer, can be life saving. But is abortion a viable treatment option in this setting? I maintain that it usually, if not always, is not.
Before a Suction D & E procedure can be performed, the cervix must first be sufficiently dilated. In my practice, this was accomplished with serial placement of laminaria. Laminaria is a type of sterilized seaweed that absorbs water over several hours and swells to several times its original diameter. Multiple placements of several laminaria at a time are absolutely required prior to attempting a suction D & E.
In the mid second trimester, this requires approximately 36 hours to accomplish. When utilizing the D & X abortion procedure, popularly known as Partial-Birth Abortion, this process requires three days as explained by Dr. Martin Haskell in his 1992 paper that first described this type of abortion.
In cases where a mother’s life is seriously threatened by her pregnancy, a doctor more often than not doesn’t have 36 hours, much less 72 hours, to resolve the problem. Let me illustrate with a real -life case that I managed while at the Albany Medical Center. A patient arrived one night at 28 weeks gestation with severe pre-eclampsia or toxemia.
Her blood pressure on admission was 220/160. As you are probably aware, a normal blood pressure is approximately 120/80. This patient’s pregnancy was a threat to her life and the life of her unborn child. She could very well be minutes or hours away from a major stroke. This case was managed successfully by rapidly stabilizing the patient’s blood pressure and “terminating” her pregnancy by Cesarean section. She and her baby did well. This is a typical case in the world of high-risk obstetrics. In most such cases, any attempt to perform an abortion “to save the mother’s life” would entail undue and dangerous delay in providing appropriate, truly life-saving care.
During my time at Albany Medical Center I managed hundreds of such cases by “terminating” pregnancies to save mother’s lives. In all those hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.
Higher Death Rates After Abortion Found in U.S., Finland and Denmark: Studies Show Women More Likely to Die After Abortion, Not Childbirth
Legal Abortion Doesn’t Save Women’s Lives, Report Shows
Study: Later Abortions More Likely to Be Unwanted, Are Linked to Psychological Problems