Legal Abortion Death: Diane Boyd, 19 (Fatal drug interaction)

Researcher Kevin Sherlock writes about the death of Diane Boyd:

“This 19-year-old [mentally handicapped] girl died October 23, 1981, after undergoing an abortion at Reproductive Health Services. Barbara Bates, Diane’s mother, sued Reproductive Health Services over her death. She charged abortion provider Robert Crist failed to check Diane’s medical records before performing the abortion on her. Diane’s mother said Diane suffered breathing depression during the abortion, which led to her death the next day…

Diane’s mother alleged Diane was beaten and raped in the state operated St. Louis Developmental Disability Treatment Center in July 1981, and that she became pregnant as a result of being raped. Diane’s mother signed the consent form for her to undergo an abortion, and the abortion was arranged to take place at Reproductive Health Services.

Diane’s mother charged Crist and Reproductive Health Services staffers didn’t check Diane’s medical records before they plied her with drugs and performed the abortion. Diane was taking the antipsychotic drug Thorazine, her mother said, and the abortion facility staffers gave her Valium and the narcotic painkiller Sublimaze. She also implied Crist performed a risky kind of abortion on Diane, saying the type of abortion he performed was contraindicated because Diane was already in her second trimester of pregnancy.

The St. Louis medical examiner determined Diane died because of her reaction to the Sublimaze dose given to her, according to published reports.

The Physician’s Desk Reference notes Thorazine in the presence of a large dose of a depressant like Sublimaze is dangerous. Likewise, it notes Sublimaze must be used carefully to avoid causing breathing depression…

St. Louis medical examiner Dr George Ganther…attributed Diane’s death to the tranquilizers staffers at Reproductive Health Services gave her. “This was a severely brain damaged individual, and she could not tolerate any respiratory depressant,” medical examiner Dr Mary Case was quoted as saying…

Mental hospital officials said Reproductive Health Services officials “made no request for a detailed medical history of Miss Boyd before she was transferred to the clinic for the operation”, a reporter wrote.…

Reporters implied Reproductive Health Services may not have had resuscitation equipment available to help Diane when she went into respiratory arrest. In one article, the reporter wrote that officials of the abortion facility “declined to disclose whether there was any resuscitation equipment available when the operation on Miss Boyd was performed.” In another article, another reporter said Reproductive Health Services officials still weren’t saying if they had any resuscitation equipment available when they were performing the abortion on Diane…

Barbara Bates sued the state of Missouri for allowing Diane to be beaten and raped. And in her suit against Crist and Reproductive Health Services, she accused them of not having heart monitoring equipment, general anesthetic equipment, or adequate resuscitation equipment on premises, as well as causing Diane to die by their negligence…

Judge James Corcoran dismissed the case against the state and its officials in May 1982.

Barbara Bates’ lawyer appealed Judge Corcoran’s ruling, but state appellate court judges upheld the ruling in December 1983. Eventually, Judge George Adolf dismissed the rest of the case without prejudice in September 1986…”

Sources: St. Louis City Circuit Court Case 812 – 11077; St. Louis Post – Dispatch 10/26/81, 10/27/81, 10/30/81, 11/4/81, 11/10/81, 11/14/81, and 1/21/82

Kevin Sherlock The Scarlet Survey (Akron, Ohio, Brennyman Books, 1997)
134 – 135

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Author: Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a writer for Live Action and a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life. She lives in NJ.

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