SUMMARY: Christella Forte, age 16, died January 15, 1986 after an abortion at New Centre Hospital, Detroit, MI.

Christella Marie Forte, age 16, screamed, convulsed, and went into cardiac arrest 27 hours after instillation of saline for an abortion. at New Centre Hospital in Detroit on January 14, 1986. She died without ever expelling the 23-week fetus.The concentrated salt solution that had been injected into Christella's uterus to kill the fetus got into her bloodstream, poisoning her and causing cardiac arrest. Strangely, her death certificate lists her manner of death as "natural," rather than "accidental," indicating an odd judgment call on the medical examiner's behalf.

A medical journal article that appears to be about Christella's death says that she was an obese Black girl experiencing her first pregnancy. The article gives the gestational age as 21.5 weeks. Nothing seemed to have gone wrong with the injection, until 26 hours afterward when she "complained of severe abdominal cramps with projectile expulsion of amniotic fluid. Generalized convulsions and shaking followed and the patient went into shock. Death occurred within 2 hours."

"At autopsy, microscopic examination of lungs revealed pulmonary edema with marked vascular congestion..... Positive test results ... confirmed a diagnosis of amniotic fluid embolism. There was marked congestion of the blood vessels of the kidneys, liver, brain, and spleen."

What is particularly disgusting about Christella's death is how utterly needless it was: saline abortions had been discredited as far too dangerous for over a decade. The documents surrounding her death do not explain why her abortionist chose an outdated, high-risk procedure for his young patient.

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Sources: Michigan Certificate of Death; Medical Examiner's Office # 443-86; Bernadell Technical Bulletin, 1:2, November 1989; death certificate #907467
Hypernatremia due to amniotic fluid embolism during a saline-induced abortion