Marla Cardamone

Marla Cardamoneteens, pennsylvania, fetalindications, deception, induction, 1980s, coersionSUMMARY: Marla Cardamone, age 18, died August 16, 1989 after an abortion performed by Michael Weinberger at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.

marla_headshot1.jpgMarla CardamoneDeborah Cardamone has raised her grandson since he was one year old. She had to. The child’s mother, Deborah’s daughter Marla Anne, died at the age of 18.

Pregnant after a date rape, Marla had planned to put her baby up for adoption, since she already had a toddler to take care of, but a medical-social worker at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh strongly urged Marla to have an abortion.

The social worker insisted that Marla had harmed her unborn baby because of Tegretal and Elavil she’d been taking for depression. No family would adopt a disabled baby, Marla was told. The social worker pointed out to Marla how difficult it would be to continue to assist in caring for her quadriplegic father if she also had to care for a disabled child that nobody would adopt.

Statistics gave a 92% chance that the baby was fine, but Marla had a sonogram to be sure. After the sonogram, the social worker kept pressuring Marla. Finally, she gave in. She was admitted to the hospital for the abortion August 15, 1989.

Although the urea induction technique — which involved injecting a chemical into the uterus — was contraindicated due to Marla’s medical history, Michael W. Weinberger injected urea into his patient’s uterus anyway. Either an error during this injection or some other mishap caused the tissue of Marla’s uterus to start dying. The laminaria used to dilate Marla’s cervix had also been inserted by Weinberger in a manner resulting in massive infection. Her kidneys shut down.

Marla became obviously ill during the night, with nausea, vomiting, urinary incontinence, and dried blood on her teeth. Her pulse and temperature were severely elevated. At 6:30 AM the charge nurse contacted a the first of several doctors to treat Marla, but no were cultures taken.

By 7 AM Marla was “increasingly disoriented and speaking inappropriately.”

By 7:15, her blood pressure had fallen to 80/40, her pulse had shot up to 144, and she was “unresponsive, grunting loudly, and having seizures.”

At 10 AM, intravenous antibiotics were administered, but of course they would do nothing to address the kidney failure or rotting tissue.

Marla was dead from septicemia at 12:15 PM.

The suit filed by Marla’s family noted failure to notify them of her deteriorating condition. They never got to come and see her one last time before she died. Marla’s parents adopted her orphaned son. To add further insult to injury, the coroner disposed of the baby, Christopher Michael, as medical waste rather than allowing his grandparents to bury him with his mother.

Marla’s family faulted the doctor and hospital with performance of an abortion that they should have known would only make Marla’s existing depression worse, failure to remove the dead fetus, administering an overdose of Pitocin, and failure to consult qualified doctors.

Marla’s mother adds bitterly:

marla_mom.jpgDeborah and Marla shortly before fatal abortion.I had to file a lawsuit to get any answers. Marla had died of septicemia–a massive infection from the abortion. I also learned that the social worker had never seen Marla’s sonogram or discussed the results with her. Marla never saw the words on the sonogram report that would have changed everything: No abnormalities detected. My daughter was pressured to have an abortion, and there had been no reason for it, no reason at all.
I’ve often wondered why pro-choice women’s groups have never expressed any sympathy or concern over Marla’s death. Why aren’t they demanding justice? Why aren’t they concerned that Marla was lied to about the condition of her baby and wasn’t shown the sonogram results? Why aren’t they concerned that proper treatment was delayed because Marla was misdiagnosed by a resident who was only two months out of medical school? Why are they so quiet?
I believe it’s because pro-choice groups don’t want women to read or hear about abortion injuries and deaths. Bad publicity hurts their cause. That’s why they prefer that Marla and her baby remain hidden statistics.

“The last two weeks of her life, all she did was cry,” Deborah Cardamone told me.
Deborah still cries.

MarlaCardamoneGraphic.jpg

(To see Marla’s autopsy photos, including the photo of her unborn child, click here.)


MarlaCardamonePghPostGazette14Jan1997.pngSources:

  • Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Case No. G.D. 91-14565;
  • American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology Vol. 14, No. 2, 1993;
  • Marla’s Tragic Death (first-person account by Marla’s mother)
  • “Lawsuit over fatal abortion is settled,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 14, 1997


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