Legal Abortion Death: Sophie McCoy, 17

On September 17, 1990, 17-year-old Sophie went to the office of National Abortion Federation member Abu Hayat.

Sophie was accompanied by her mother and by the husband of the operator of a facility identified as “the Willoughby Avenue Clinic.” She had been referred to him, but medical board documents do not say by whom.

Sophie and her mother returned to Hayat’s office the next day and paid $300 for the safe, legal abortion. Sophie was given intravenous medications which put her to sleep. She was kept about four hours and discharged with another prescription for antibiotics.

That evening, Sophie was bleeding, had abdominal pain, and was having trouble breathing.

The next day, September 19, she was taken to a hospital, reporting vaginal bleeding, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Dr. Harding, who treated her, discovered that Sophie had a perforated uterus and serious sepsis. An emergency hysterectomy was performed, but Sophie developed disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (a clotting disorder) and septic shock.

Sophie died on September 26. She left a one-year-old son motherless.

After Sophie’s death, Hayat originally denied having treated her at all. But Sophie’s mother identified Hayat by name and from a photograph.

While continuing to deny having treated Sophie, Hayat told one of the physicians who had tried to save her life that she had expelled a fetus at home and come to him for treatment, whereupon he’d sent her to the hospital. But Margie, an employee of his, recognized Sophie from a photo and said that Hayat had indeed treated the girl on two occasions. Margie added that after the second visit, Sophie’s mother had called, hysterical and crying. Margie further said that she had seen medical records for Sophie at the facility, and that Hayat had argued with the referring clinic about payments for Sophie’s treatment.

The case was reported to the district attorney and the New York Health Department, but nobody took any action against Hayat until he pulled the arm off an infant during an abortion attempt in 1991.

(Sources: New York Daily News 11/21/91; Washington Times 11/21/91; New York Post 11/21/91, 11/22/91; New York Times 11/22/91, 11/23/91, 11/24/91; New York Department of Health Case No. BPMC-92-13-A, Medical Board Determination and Order)

Credit: Christina Dunigan

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