Investigation Into RU 486 Abortion Death Begins

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 22, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Investigation Into RU 486 Abortion Death Begins

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 22, 2003

San Francisco, CA ( — The investigation has begun into the death of a California teenager who died only days after taking the dangerous abortion drug RU 486. While investigators conduct an autopsy, the girls’ parents say the case should prompt more communication between parents and teens about pregnancy and abortion decisions.

The Alameda County Coroner’s Office said it is conducting toxicology tests on Holly Patterson, 18, and will not have an official cause of death for at least three weeks.

Patterson visited a local Planned Parenthood facility on September 10 and took the first of two drugs in the abortion process there.

Later, Patterson complained of very severe cramping and bleeding and went to a local medical center. There she was given painkillers.

When her situation grew worse, she was taken to a local hospital emergency room.

After five hours working on her, doctors told her family that Holly had experienced septic shock coupled with a severe bacterial infection. They also said the abortion was incomplete and that part of the baby remained inside of her.

She died hours later.

Holly’s parents are devastated and they hope this case will prompt teenagers to communicate more with parents about their pregnancy situations.

Monty Patterson, her father, said, "I think it’s a sad day when a father has to bury his daughter because she suffered in silence. I think it was fear and shame that made her decide she could do this, that she could take a pill and make it all go away. If she could have just talked to us, things would be different."

He had no idea Holly and her boyfriend arranged for her abortion through Planned Parenthood. Holly didn’t say anything about her pregnancy until the day before her death.

Erin Brooks, communications manager for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, said the abortion business wouldn’t comment until the cause of death had been determined.

"Once we know that, we’ll have a lot more information," Brooks said.

Holly’s mother also hopes her death with serve as a wake-up call for other parents and teens.

"We hope with Holly’s passing that other families can come together and take care of issues," said Patterson’s mother, Deborah Patterson, 51, of Cathedral City. "We want to save other girls from the same demise and heartbreak. It was so needless, so needless."

Monty Patterson added that parents’ love is unconditional.

"We’re in this convenient society, this microwave society where things are quick and easy, and they’re not," he said. "Talk to your parents … there’s nothing so bad that you could turn them away."

RU 486 was approved by the FDA in 2000. Pro-life groups accused the Clinton administration of fast-tracking the dangerous drug for approval without proper monitoring and tests.

Last year, the deaths of two women from mifepristone (RU 486) prompted the FDA to issue warning letters about the abortion drug.

The maker of Cytotec, an ulcer drug used as the second part of RU 486 to deliver the dead baby, has previously issued warnings not to use their drug in combination with the abortion pill.

In August 2000, more than a month before RU-486 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Searle, the maker of Cytotec, sent out a strongly worded letter, with the cooperation of the FDA, saying misoprostol "is not approved for the induction of labor or abortion."

The letter said misuse of the drug can cause adverse effects such as a ruptured uterus, vaginal bleeding and "maternal or fetal death."

Danco Laboratories, producer of the abortion drug in the U.S. sent letters to doctors in April 2002 saying that six women have died from using the abortion drug in North America.