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.

The Claim


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Pauline 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.

Conclusion

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 Becky Bell 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.

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PaulineRobersonShirleyDeathCertificate.png


  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
  6. 1950s
  7. 1960s
  8. 1970s
  9. 1980s
  10. 1990s
  11. 19th century
  12. 2000-2009
  13. 20s
  14. 30s
  15. 40s
  16. NAF
  17. abortifacient
  18. abortion
  19. abortion mill
  20. abortion mortality
  21. abortionists
  22. abortionists -- female
  23. abortionists -- male
  24. alabama
  25. anesthesia
  26. arizona
  27. black women
  28. born alive
  29. botched abortion
  30. california
  31. chicago
  32. colorado
  33. connecticut
  34. cover-up
  35. death
  36. deaths
  37. deception
  38. delay in transport
  39. delay in treatment
  40. district of columbia
  41. dumped body
  42. ectopic
  43. embolism
  44. falsifying forms
  45. fetal indications
  46. florida
  47. former criminal abortionist
  48. george tiller
  49. georgia
  50. hemorrhage death
  51. hospitals
  52. illegal - doctor
  53. illegal - midwife
  54. illegal - nurse
  55. illegal - paramedical
  56. illegal - post roe
  57. illegal - unknown
  58. illegal - untrained
  59. illegal abortion
  60. illinois
  61. inadequate documents
  62. inadequate equipment
  63. inadequate resuscitation
  64. incomplete abortion
  65. indiana
  66. infection
  67. kansas
  68. llinois
  69. louisiana
  70. maryland
  71. massachusetts
  72. maternal indications
  73. maternal mortality
  74. michigan
  75. mills
  76. missouri
  77. mortality
  78. national abortion federation
  79. new jersey
  80. new mexico
  81. new york
  82. north carolina
  83. ohio
  84. oklahoma
  85. pennsylvania
  86. planned parenthood
  87. pre-roe legal
  88. previous misconduct
  89. prostaglandin
  90. quackery
  91. questionable stories
  92. ru-486
  93. rupture
  94. saline
  95. secret abortion
  96. self-induced
  97. suicide
  98. teens
  99. texas
  100. wisconsin