Legal Abortion Death: Janet Foster, 18

Eighteen-year-old Janet Foster underwent a safe and legal abortion at the hands of Richard Neal at Valley Doctors’ Hospital in North Hollywood, California on September 11, 1971. Janet’s abortion had been a “therapeutic” abortion approved by the hospital committee, as was required at the time. Neal reported that he’d estimated the pregnancy at 12-weeks and performed what he thought was an uneventful suction abortion.

Janet’s brother-in-law reported that she was very weak and sleepy when he picked her up at the hospital. After returning home, Janet suffered abdominal pain after returning home, and called Neal on September 14. He told her he’d see her the next day. Janet felt ill, so she went to bed early. In the early morning hours, Janet went into convulsions.

Her brother-in-law and paramedics attempted to revive her, to no avail; Janet was pronounced dead at 3:55 am. The autopsy found that in Janet’s uterus was a “macerated, lacerated and purulent male fetus of about 19 weeks gestation. This fetus measures 14.5 cm. in crown-rump length, shows lacerations in the shoulder area, evisceration of the bowel through an abdominal laceration, and destruction of the skull and facila structures.” Janet’s uterus also contained “approximately 20 cc. of red-brown purulent and foul-smelling liquid with similar odor and color to an exudate on the endometrial surface.” Janet’s death attrubuted to septicemia due to “incomplete abortion, therapeutic, septic.”

An LA County grand jury indicted Neal on a felony manlsaughter charge in Janet’s death. The 1976 trial ended with a hung jury.

Sources: LA County Coroner Case No. 71-9846 and LA County
Superior Court Case No A310874

 

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eighteen + = twenty eight