Death of Holly Patterson

Holly’s father didn’t even know she was pregnant until the hospital called to tell him that his daughter had been brought in following complications from an abortion. She was eighteen years old. “Every time I think about it, I think, ‘She suffered in silence,'” he says. “She felt she would disappoint everyone around her, and then she had to carry that whole load. I wish she could have told me so I could have helped her.”

He has told the press that he later learned that Holly and her boyfriend went to Planned Parenthood on September 10, 2003, where she was given RU-486, the “abortion pill”. On September 14 her boyfriend took her to Valley Care Medical Center’s emergency room, where she complained of severe cramping and bleeding. She was told that this was normal following an RU-486 abortion, was given some pain killers and sent home. Three days later he took her back, and the next day she was dead.

Doctors at Valley Care say she died from septic shock and infection resulting from incomplete expulsion of the fetus. That is, parts of the dead baby were left in her womb. At a press conference, Marcy Feit, CEO of the hospital, called for an investigation into the safety of RU-486. “We’re going to be asking the FDA to give us some answers about the safety of this drug,” she said. The abortion drugs “have had a controversial history since they were first approved in 2000.”

Danco Laboratories, which manufactures the drug, says it has referred to the FDA about 400 reports of adverse effects, most involving excessive bleeding but some involving bacterial infections. Five to eight percent of women who use RU-486 require surgery to stop bleeding or deal with other complications. At least two women in America have died shortly after using RU-486, though the FDA says there is no “proof” that the abortion pill was responsible.

The FDA approved RU-486 in 2000 under “Section H”, a special “fast track” procedure which is normally used only for emergency approval of life-saving drugs. Many of the normal rules that are intended to insure safety were ignored so the abortion pill could be rushed onto the market. In Holly’s case, one of the procedures the FDA did call for — that the second pill be taken under medical supervision — was ignored, and instead she was sent home with a vaginal insert and told to do it herself.