Holly Patterson, age 18, died September 17, 2003, from sepsis caused by a fetus incompletely expelled in a safe and legal medical abortion. Holly got the drugs for the fatal abortion at a Planned Parenthood in Hayward, California, on September 10.
Rather than follow the recommended protocols for chemical abortions, Planned Parenthood followed the more popular American approach of giving Holly the mifepristone at the facility, then giving her misoprostol to self-administer at home.
Holly had experienced severe cramping and pain, and went to the emergency room. She was examined, given pain medication, and discharged.
At her boyfriends insistence, she returned to the emergency room on September 17, but by then her condition had deteriorated and efforts to save her were futile.
Monty Patterson, Holly’s father, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “The medical community treats this as a simple pill you take, as if you’re getting rid of a headache. The procedure, the follow-ups, it’s all too lackadaisical. The girl gets a pill. Then she’s sent home to do the rest on her own. There are just too many things that can go wrong.”
For an extensive, in-depth look at Holly’s death and the surrounding political firestorm, see: The Making of a Martyr, Holly Patterson’s death.
Three other women were identified as having died of infection deaths after RU-486 deaths in the Los Angeles area: Chanelle Bryant, Oriane Shevin, and Vivian Tran. Chanelle got her abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood, and Oriane and Vivian got theirs from National Abortion Federation members.
From an open letter by Holly Patterson’s parents:
“Holly was a strong, healthy, intelligent and ambitious teenager who fell victim of a process that wholly failed her, beginning with the 24-year-old man who had unprotected sex with her, impregnated her, and then proceeded to facilitate the secrecy that surrounded her pregnancy and abortion. Under this conspiracy of silence, Holly suffered and depended on the safety of the FDA approved pill administered by Planned Parenthood and emergency room treatment by Valley Care Medical Center where she received pain killers for severe cramping and was sent home. On Saturday and Sunday, Holly cried and complained of severe cramping and constipation, and even allowed us to comfort her but could not tell us what she was really going through. On September 17, 2003, she succumbed to septic shock and died while many members of our family waited anxiously, yet expectantly in the Critical Care Unit for her to recover until we were forced behind the curtain when it was clear that she was dying.
And in those last moments of her life feeling utter disbelief and desperation we formed a circle just beyond the curtain and prayed aloud, cried and screamed, “We love you, Holly” hoping beyond hope that those words would ring out and save her life. And the other members of our family who drove and flew from all over the country to be by her side did not make it in time to say, “I love you” just one last time. Holly was not alone, unloved, unprotected or unsupported; she had a large family who willingly supported her throughout her short life and tragic death.
In the weeks since we buried Holly’s body we are now able to recall and share the memories of our daughter’s brilliant blue eyes, engaging smile, laughter, unwavering determination and sheer gentle beauty that invoked our natural instinct to protect and love her, but we will never be able to forget those last moments of her life when she was too weak to talk and could barely squeeze our hands in acknowledgment of our words of encouragement. “We love you, Holly”, “Just hang in there, the whole family is coming,” “You fight this Holly, you can do it.”
It can be found in its entirety here.
Other Sources # Pregnant teen’s death under investigation
# Investigation Into RU 486 Abortion Death Begins
# California woman’s death re-ignites abortion pill debate
# No Magic Pill
# “Woman dies after taking abortion pill” Philly.com
# “California Teen Dies After Complications From Abortion Pill” ABC NEWS
# Abortion Pill Culprit In Death? CBS NEWS
Credit: Christina DuniganShare on Facebook