SUMMARY: Maria Ortega, age 23, died October 10, 1970 from a legal abortion performed by Armida Zepeta in New York, NY.

Twenty-three-year-old Maria Hernandez Ortega traveled from her home in Boston for a safe and legal abortion by Dr. Armida Zepeta in her New York office on October 10, 1970.

Zeptea estimated the pregnancy to be two months. She attempted an abortion, but was unable to extract the fetus. She concluded that Maria had not been pregnant after all, and sent her home.

At 10:00 that night, Maria died in her home. It turned out that she had actually been four months pregnant, not two months. Zepeta had pushed the fetus through the uterine wall into Maria's abdominal cavity.

Dr. Michael Baden, deputy chief medical examiner of New York, said that had Maria's abortion taken place in a properly equipped hospital, she might have been saved.

Maria, a citizen of Guatemala, had only lived in Boston for eight months.


The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to Maria, these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:
  • MariaOrtegaGreeleyCODailyTrib17Oct1970.pngPearl Schwier, July, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • Carmen Rodriguez, July, 1970, salt solution intended to kill the fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • Barbara Riley, July, 1970, sickle-cell crisis triggered by abortion recommended by doctor due to her sickle cell disease
  • "Amanda" Roe, September, 1970, sent back to her home in Indiana with an untreated hole poked in her uterus
  • "Kimberly" Roe, December, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Amy" Roe, January, 1971, massive pulmonary embolism
  • "Andrea" Roe, January, 1971, overwhelming infection
  • "Sandra" Roe, April, 1971, committed suicide due to post-abortion remorse
  • "Anita" Roe, May, 1971, bled to death in her home during process of outpatient saline abortion
  • Margaret Smith, June, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Annie" Roe, June, 1971, cardiac arrest during anesthesia
  • "Audrey" Roe, July, 1971, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Vicki" Roe, August, 1971, post-abortion infection
  • "April" Roe, August, 1971, injected with saline for outpatient abortion, went into shock and died
  • "Barbara" Roe, September, 1971, cardiac arrest after saline injection for abortion
  • "Tammy" Roe, October, 1971, massive post-abortion infection
  • Carole Schaner, October, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Beth" Roe, December, 1971, saline injection meant to kill fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • "Roseann" Roe, February, 1971, vomiting with seizures causing pneumonia after saline abortion
  • "Connie" Roe, March, 1972, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Julie" Roe, April, 1972, holes torn in her uterus and bowel
  • "Robin" Roe, May, 1972, lingering abortion complications
  • "Roxanne" Roe, May, 1972, given overdose of abortion sedatives
  • "Danielle" Roe, May, 1972, air in her bloodstream


Sources:
  • New York Times 10-17-70;
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology March 1974
  • "Nonhospital abortions out on Monday," Omaha World Herald, Oct. 18, 1970
  • "Testimony Is Taken in Abortion Case," Greely (CO) Daily Tribune, Oct. 17, 1970
  • "Death laid to abortion," Portland Oregonian, Oct. 18, 1970

As you can see from the graph below, abortion deaths were falling dramatically before legalization. This steep fall had been in place for decades. To argue that legalization lowered abortion mortality simply isn't supported by the data.

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