Skip to main content
You are not a member of this wiki.
Pages and Files
Read This First:
How can you know how much you can trust what you are told by a prolife or prochoice organization's communications? How do you know if what a web site or newsletter says is accurate or not?
There is one easy rule to follow: Truthful sites provide reliable sources for their information.
As you look over the information on the Cemetery of Choice, you'll find that whenever possible, I provide either links to information or actual copies of documents such as news articles and death certificates. In other cases, I at least cite my sources in a way that they can be researched and verified.
Are other sources as reliable? Do they tell you where they got the information upon which they are basing their claims? If they don't, why not?
If there are conflicting claims, such as prolife versus prochoice assertions about the death of
, check to see which site provides more reliable sources. In Becky's case, prochoice sites provide only assertions made by other abortion rights organizations or statements made by Becky's parents, who were recruited and coached by abortion-rights organizations. Prolife sites typically quote a crucial source: Becky's actual autopsy report,* which shows her reproductive organs to be perfectly healthy. Which sources can you trust?
Consider also the case of
. Prochoice pages typically post the following unsubstantiated story verbatim:
Pauline Shirley and her six children were living with her mother in Arizona while her husband sought work in California. After an illegal abortion, she began to hemorrhage and was hospitalized. She needed massive transfusions. While Pauline’s mother searched the community for donors, Pauline bled to death.
I looked deeper and found an original and reliable source: Pauline's death certificate, which indicated that she died not from an induced abortion but from a miscarriage. Perhaps a family member saw "incomplete abortion, spontaneous" and didn't understand that a spontaneous abortion is the medical term for a miscarriage. My write-up of Pauline's death actually includes an image of the death certificate. Whose word is more trustworthy: the one based on the actual death certificate, or the unsubstantiated one repeated uncritically?
Never, never take anything you are told without question. Check the original sources.
*I read Becky Bell's autopsy report myself shortly after abortion-rights groups began taking them on speaking engagements around the country. I'm still trying to find an online copy and as soon as I find one I will share it, as I share my other sources.
SUMMARY: Abortion-rights web sites claim, with no substantiating evidence, that Pauline Roberson Shirley died from an illegal abortion on August 22, 1940. Her death certificate indicates no reason to believe that she died for any reason other than a miscarriage, though the word "abortion" (meaning miscarriage) might have caused confusion in her family.
My research has uncovered the real cause of the death of Pauline Roberson Shirley.
According to a multitude of abortion-rights web sites, Pauline Roberson Shirley was a 29-year-old married mother of six. She and the children, according to these claims, were living with her mother in Arizona while her husband was looking for work in California. These sites gives no details of the illegal abortion that Pauline reportedly underwent, but say that she was hospitalized for hemorrhage afterward and in need of transfusions. They then indicate that Pauline's mother was looking for donors for the needed blood when Pauline bled to death on August 22, 1940.
What The Death Certificate Says
An exhaustive online search has finally yielded Pauline's death certificate. It straightforwardly indicated that yes, Pauline Shirley, born June 2, 1910, died in an Arizona hospital. The date disagrees slightly, with the death certificate saying August 23, 1940, rather than the August 22 that is on the prochoice sites.
One can also easily piece together from the information that Pauline was indeed living with her mother. She also wasn't living with her husband -- because she wasn't married any more. That's really not significant. (Of course, how many children she had and what her mother was doing during Pauline's final hours won't be on a death certificate one way or the other.)
The cause of death section indicates "secondary anemia" and "uterine hemorrhage," which I would say substantiates that Pauline had bled to death.
But the abortion-rights websites deviate from the death certificate in one extremely important way:
THE DEATH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT CONFIRM AN INDUCED ABORTION.
The cause of death is noted as "incomplete abortion, spontaneous (?)" "Abortion" is the medical term for a miscarriage. So what the medical examiner was indicating when he completed the death certificate was that it looked as if Pauline had died from a miscarriage, but he wasn't 100% sure.
There is a section of the death certificate for information about external causes of death. This section is completely blank, even after an autopsy. That means that there were no signs that anybody had used instruments of any kind -- either of the medical or "coat hanger" type -- to perform an abortion on Pauline.
I can never say with 100% certainty that Pauline didn't use some sort of abortifacient. She might have tried an herbal tea such as parsley, which is harmless, or pennyroyal, which can trigger an abortion. If she did take any kind of abortifacient, it didn't do any obvious damage to her body. By far the preponderance of evidence that I've been able to uncover is that Pauline's death was not a criminal abortion death.
Abortion-rights groups also claim that
died from complications of an illegal abortion, when in fact she died of pneumonia concurrent with a miscarriage. (There was no evidence that Becky's pregnancy had been tampered with in any way.) I don't know why they persist in using those debunked examples of criminal abortion deaths when there are plenty of verifiable illegal abortion deaths with abundant documentation supporting them. I've done all the legwork already!
But nothing seems able to break into or out of the prochoice echo chamber, not even evidence like autopsy reports and death certificates.
abortionists -- female
abortionists -- male
delay in transport
delay in treatment
district of columbia
former criminal abortionist
illegal - doctor
illegal - midwife
illegal - nurse
illegal - paramedical
illegal - post roe
illegal - unknown
illegal - untrained
national abortion federation
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"