Gerri Santoro’s Abortion
(To see the photo, click on the image above. I decided not to publish it on the frontpage because the photo is not suitable for all readers).
In June 1964, a woman was found dead from an illegal abortion on a Norwich, Connecticut motel room floor. She was identified by her sister as Gerri Santoro, a mother of two facing her third pregnancy. Santoro and her two daughters had been victims of an abusive husband/father. Santoro was just 28 years old, and was 6.5 months pregnant with her secret lover’s baby. He took her to the motel, and fled when the self-induced abortion went wrong, abandoning dying Santoro behind. (He was arrested but served only a year for manslaughter).
In 1972, WCLA was given a copy of the photo from the NYC Medical Examiner. In May of 1973, a crime scene photo of Gerri Santoro was published in Ms. Magazine, after the U.S Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in January of that year. Even before Roe v. Wade, Ms. published the names of women admitting to having had abortions, an action of civil disobedience that highlighted the importance of the issue. Gerri’s re-discovered case and terrifying photo stirred a nation and inflamed a movement. Bloody, nude, alone, Gerri Santoro’s lifeless corpse became a powerful symbol of the newly legitimatized pro-choice movement.