I’m a doctor who worked an ‘infected abortion’ ward in 1960. I worry they’re coming back


To the editor: In 1960, I was a 24-year-old intern at L.A. County hospital in Boyle Heights. I chose this hospital because interns there got to do many essential medical procedures.

One of my first rotations was on the infected abortion ward. Most of my patients had very high fevers; some battled potentially fatal septic shock. Many were screaming in pain and anguish. Most were women of color.

These women were seriously infected by their own hand with the aid of a coat hanger, knitting needle or toxic substance like drain cleaner or by an illegal abortionist. At the time, every large city had an infected abortion unit.


Studies of women who carry unwanted pregnancies to term show a high incidence of maternal depression, poor or no prenatal care, greater use of alcohol and illicit drugs, and less likelihood of breast feeding. Children born to these mothers have more psychiatric problems throughout their lives.

If Roe vs. Wade were repealed and abortions were banned in many states, there would again be hospital wards filled with dying women, and many more disturbed women and children in America. We must not permit Roe vs. Wade to be reversed.

Edward Kaufman, Laguna Beach

Editor’s note: This letter was originally published on May 31; it is being republished here to accompany the writer’s “Hear Me Out” video about his letter.