A few examples of how much legalization changed abortion practice:
Dr. Sidney C. Laughlin
Former employees of Dr. Sidney C. Laughlin alleged that he performed illegal late-term abortions in a bedroom of his home, across the street from an elementary school. Upon investigating the allegation, police found a dismembered 16-week fetus in his trash. A nurse who claimed to have assisted in 4 or 5 abortions in his home said Laughlin sterilized abortion instruments in his dishwasher. The nurse said she quit assisting in these abortions after she observed Laughlin aborting a 28-week old fetus, 4 weeks past the 24-week legal limit. Equipment found in Laughlin's home included suction machine, medications, and an exam table. Laughlin denied that it would be improper or illegal to perform abortions in the doctor's home. Because a law restricting 2nd-trimester abortions to hospitals had been found unconstitutional by the state attorney general in 1984, Laughlin said that no law would prevent abortions from being done in a home.
Dr. Milan Vuitch
Patient "Amanda" filed suit, saying that she had an abortion performed by Milan Vuitch at his Laurel Clinic on January 8, 1981. During the abortion, Vuitch lacerated Amanda's uterine wall. Vuitch kept Andrea overnight, in violation of clinic licensing statute. He subsequently moved her to his home, designated as the "Clinic Annex," and cared for his injured patient there.
He then returned her to clinic January 10, and discharged her. On January 11, in severe pain, Amanda was taken to the hospital by relatives and admitted. Vuitch used the company car to transport patients from clinic to the "Annex," "which is not licensed in Maryland to treat patients," and testified to transporting as many as three patients to the "Annex" for overnight stays.
Although Vuitch managed to keep his nose clean when he ws doing criminal abortions, his practice deteriorated after Roe. Sloppy practices by Vuitch resulted in two deaths that I know of: Wilma Harris and Georgianna "Jeannie" English.
Dr. Joe Bills Reynolds
Reynolds was a jack of all trades, doing a variety of elective surgeries, including abortions, in his filthy clinic. Reynolds' anesthetist, age 60, had originally been hired as a janitor, and an untrained orderly was acting as his nurse. The operating room was littered with dirty cups and papers. Reynolds performed the fatal abortion on Gaylene Golden and a fatal liposuction on his wife.
Blue Coral Medical Center
Blue Coral was temporarily shut down under an emergency order describing "deplorable conditions," including:
* a suction device with "green mold" growing in it
* about 70 different kinds of medication with expired dates
* unsafely administered general anesthesia
* stirrups covered with blood
* untrained workers monitoring women in recovery
An inspector was quoted as saying, "When we got there, there wasn't any soap in the place, so our inspectors had to go next door to wash their hands." Blue Coral's owner, Nabil Ghali, had already had his medical license revoked in Florida and Kentucky due to a conviction for having sex with his 14-year-old goddaughter. Ghali was also party to the abortion death of Ellen Williams at Dadeland.
Ladies First Medical Center
Ladies First was temporarily closed by the board of health in 1989 "after finding dead cockroaches in a sterilizing room, unsanitary surgical gloves, expired drugs and bloody equipment." Inspectors also noted:
* "Bloody equipment, though abortions had not been performed in the two days before the inspection"
* no hot water and no soap at the clinic's sinks
* a device that is inserted into patients' noses during general anesthesia was found on the floor, still hooked to a hose that had been used on a patient
* supposedly sterile gauze pads that were stained yellow
The Health Secretary described Ladies First as "just filthy, the worst I've seen." One of the inspectors told a reporter, "I spent years inspecting clinics in prisons all through Florida. And we wouldn't have waited a minute to close a prison clinic long before it ever looked this bad. I couldn't believe how bad this place was."
Anybody who thinks that these fly-by-nights are an improvement on what abortionists offered before legalization owes criminal abortionists an appology. Abortionists like Robert Spencer and George Timanus would roll over in their graves if anybody compared their practices with these places.