Recent news detailing the tragic death of 23-year-old, Maria del Valle González López has sparked a global debate on the safety of medical abortion pills.
María died of septicemia at Perrupato Hospital in Northern Argentina four days after having a medical abortion. Her death has caused an outpouring of sadness on social media, some claiming her death was due to medical "malpractice" others claiming that it was ‘judgement’ from God.
The matter is complicated by the fact that María was a vehement promoter of abortion, and a key influencer in the campaign to legalise Argentinian abortion laws last year; at just 23, she was already President of Juventud Radical in La Paz, the youth branch of Argentinian political party Unión Cívica Radical. Publicly she held this view until her dying day. According to one media outlet she labelled the procedure that was to go on to kill her, a “dream” abortion.
An investigation into the exact cause of her death is ongoing.
Our condolences are with her family and friends at this exceptionally difficult time.
The Care for Women partnership wishes to issue the following statement to apply mercy and truth to the tragic events that unfolded two weeks ago.
Having examined the facts around the case, it is our belief that her death constitutes a quadruple tragedy for her baby, herself, her family, and the nation she was trying to serve.
Firstly, the baby
One new reports described her abortion as the “voluntary interruption of her pregnancy” However, this does not do justice to the mechanics of what actually took place. After being issued mifepristone by a doctor, the sad truth is that while María was promoting her “dream” abortion, her baby was simultaneously and silently being suffocated and starved to death. Had she not taken this pill, her child would have had an 85% chance of being born alive and healthy 9 months later. The ending of this innocent human life prematurely marks the first tragedy of her story.
Secondly, María (the mother)
From the statements and pictures that can be found online, it is clear that María was not just a beautiful young student with a warm smile but clearly a charismatic leader and influencer too. Pictured above (Maria is in the centre) chanting at a pro-abortion rally, she epitomised modern student liberty and was rewarded as a result. She was made the president of a local student campaign group, Juventud Radical (Radical Youth) in La Paz. Other reports also suggest that she was also romantically involved at the moment of her abortion.
All this gifting, potential and promise ended by the very thing she campaigned to legalise.
Although María was unlikely to have identified as a mother at the time of her abortion, it is noteworthy that her biological “motherhood’, which she was proactively resisting, was the final role she played before her death.
Thirdly, her friends and family,
María’s death is not just a tragedy for herself and her child but also for the interlocking web of relationships in which she existed. If high ranking politicians and majors are tweeting condolences, think how much more acutely the pain of her loss is for her parents, grandparents, siblings and close friends. According to LifeSite news, “Her family did not even know she was going to procure an abortion.” They now find themselves mourning the loss of a child and a grandchild simultaneously. Death is always painful, but when it is sudden, with no means of saying goodbye or “sorry” for past wrongs, its pain is always felt more acutely.
Fourthly, her nation,
Whether Maria’s death is a judgement from God or not is beyond the scope of this blog, nor does it necessarily take away from the acute tragedy and pain of the events themselves. However, for the religious and non-religious alike, her death is a clear warning. Is legal medical abortion safe? It was pushed so hard by the likes of María and voted in by 38 elected officials just last December (vs 28 votes against) and yet has the capacity to claim the life of a healthy, young student, with no known underlying health conditions.
And María is not the first. In the US between 1998 and 2010, there were 108 recorded deaths from legal abortions, the majority due to heamorrhage and infection. Among them are other healthy young women like Holly Patterson, who lost her life in 2003 at the age of 18, after taking medical abortion pills. In the UK, where 70% of abortions are medical, and pills are currently being posted and self administered by women, the situation is no less dire. We are still awaiting full disclosure on two women who died after taking these pills, just before lockdown. We also know of a further 250 women a month requiring follow up surgery to remove what the pills leave behind.
María’s funeral is not the time to discuss abortion safety, however the discussion needs to be had at some point, not simply in Argentina but here in the UK too.