Michelle Armesto spoke out last month about an abortion performed on her at 24 weeks, under duress, by Shelley Sella at Tiller's facility in 2003. Michelle said that Sella initiated the abortion prior to performing an examination or obtaining signed consent, among other violations. A PDF of the text of the complaint is here. It reads:
Michelle Berge, (now Michelle Armesto), received an abortion at Women's Health Care Services (WHCS), an abortion office owened by George R. Tiller, on May 13, 2003, while she was 18 years of age and in her 24th week of pregnancy. Ms. Armesto will be referred to in the narrative below as "the patient."
The patient told an interim legislative committee on September 7, 2007, that she did not want the abortion and only reluctantly went along after days of intense pressure and threats from her mother and father where she was caused to fear the loss of their love and permanent expulsion from their family. She received further pressure to abort from a WHCS employee during a phone call that the patient's mother had arranged.
The patient and her mother became lost on the way to the abortion clinic and arrived approximately one-and-a-half to two hours later for her appointment. Upon arrival, she was placed immediately into a group with several other women also receiving late-term abortions, who were in the process of watching a video about the Tiller abortion legacy.
From there, without having spoken to anyone or signed any paperwork, including a medical history and consent forms, the patient was taken to a room with an ultrasound machine. She asked to see the viewing screen but was prevented from doing so by the clinic worker who performed her ultrasound. At approximately 11:10 AM, Tiller employee abortionist Shelley Sella, using the ultrasound imaging to guide her, administered a digoxin injection through the patient's abdomen that was supposed to go into her baby's heart. The patient was led to believe that the injection immediately killed her child.
After receiving the injection, the patient was sent to the receptionist to fill out her medical hisotry and consent forms, which were signed at 11:50 AM, 40 minutes after the abortion proess was begun and drugs administered. There was no effort before the injection to insure that the patient was over 18, or that she suffered from any kind of condition that would meet the legal requirement of "substantial and irrerversible impairment," either physically or mentally, for an abortion after 21 weeks. The legal requirements of a 24-hour waiting period and a private meeting with the physician who would be doing her abortion were not met. At no time was she asked medical questions by the clinic staff, but was asked questions only of a social nature.
She was given an injection of lidocaine at noon and then her cervix was inserted with laminaria sticks. She was then sent back to her hotel.
The following day, on May 14, 2003, the patient returned to Women's Health Care Services. At around 9:45 fetal heart tones were detected and the patient's abdomen was given a second injectino of digoxin with a notation to recheck for fetal heart tones at 1600 hours.
This indicates that the first injection given on the 13th before consent was obtained, was improperly administered since it apparently missed the baby's heart and failed to kill the baby.
The patient had been contacted by her finace the evening before. He asked her to change her mind about the abortion. The patient did not believe that was possible because she erroneously believed that at that time, her baby was already dead.
The patient indicated that she told family and the clinic staff that she did not want the abortion, but was coerced into the abortion and signing the consent forms due to pressure from her family and the clinic staff.
In the three to four minutes that she spent with Tiller during her three-day stay, he told her that if one of his children were in her situation, he would have her get an abortion as well. Another clinic worker told the patient that if she had the baby, her life would be over and that she would never be ale to go to college.
The patient, a Catholic convert, believes she was given false information at the clinic by a Unity Church minister who told her that abortions were accepted by the Catholic Church, which she later discovered was not true. He told her that God would forgive her for her abortion, but he never asked her questions or even inquired about how she was doing. When the patient later discovered that she had been given false information about the teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion at WHCS, it caused her emotional pain.
The patient delivered at the abortion clinic on the third day of the procedure. She refused to deliver her baby into a toilet bowl, as ordered by clinic workers. She felt that pushing her baby into a toilet was a demeaning and grossly inappropriate thing to ask her to do. Instead she delivered her dead baby on the floor next to the commode, a sight that still haunts her to this day.
The patient's medical records show blanks that require the signature of "nurse witness." These blanks were signed or initialed by Tiller employee Edna Roach, who has no nursing license or any kind of medical license on file with the State of Kansas, and is unqualified to act in the capaity of a nurse. This should be investigated as possible criminal fraud.
None of Tiller's workers hold valid nursing licenses of any type, nor do they hold any other kind of medical licensing in the State of Kansas, with the exception of his three hired out-of-state abortionists, Shelley Sella, LeRoy Carhart, and Susan Ribonson. However, the unlicensed medical workers, including Edna Roach, Cathy Reavis, and Stacey Pack appear to pass themselves off as "nurses" and perform the duties of a licensed nurse, even though there were not at that time qualified to do so.
One meployee of WHCS, who initialed parts of the patient's medical chart was Stacey Carmen Pack (initials SCP on the charts). Records obtained from the Kansas State Board of Nursing indicate that she was originally licensed as an LPN in Kansas on August 25, 2005. At the time of the patient's abortion on May 13-15, 2003, Pack had no such license. Ms. Pack is no longer employed by WHCS.
Because the patient's mother was set to graduate from college the following day, the patient was released a day earlier than she normally would have been released, with the verbal promise that she would seek follow-up care in one week. However, because of the turmoil in her family and embarrassment over her abortion, she did not get follow-up care. She stated that Tiller's office never called her in follow-up to ask how she was or if she had indeed made the follow-up appointment. She received no follow-up care whatsoever from WHCS.
Earlier this year, the patient requested her medical records from Women's Health Care Services and was shocked to learn that her 24-week baby had been diagnosed as "not viable" by Sella. The patient was a healthy 18-year-old in perfect health that did not drink, smoke, or do drugs. She had no reason to believe, and had been given no reason to believe, that her baby was anything but healthy. No basis was givn on which the determination of non-viability was made.
A CD with Michelle Armesto's full testimony before the interim legislative committee on September 7, 2006, is included herein.
Michelle Armesto gave me (Troy Newman) permission to file this complaint and released her medical records to me for the purpose of inclusion in this complaint. A copy of her medical record is also included at her request.
A "Summary of Allegations" follows the narrative, including noting that the informed consent document says that Dr. Sella gave Michelle information at least 24 hours prior to initiating the abortion. But Michelle never saw Sella until she did the injection to try to kill the fetus, forty minutes prior to Michelle being given the consent form to sign.
The consent form also says that the patient met with the physician prior to the abortion, or any phsical or chemical preparation therefore, and said "I had adequate opportunity ... to ask questions and obtain information." But, as Newman points out, "The patient clearly did not meet privately with Sella at any time before the abortion procedure began, and only signed this form 40 minutes after the abortion had been initiated...."
"Michelle's abortion procedure was begun without having taken a proper medical history. Her medical history was obtained only after a digoxin injection... was administered."
The second digoxin injection notation is initialled by "CR", who is most likely Cathy Reavis, who was unlicensed and not qualified to perform an injection of any kind.
No physician whatsoever signed any documentation, as required by law for abortions past 21 weeks, that there was any danger to Michelle's life or that she might suffer impairment.
Sella documented Michelle's fetus as "not viable," though the estimated weight was between 593 and 675 grams. Babies born over 500 grams have a better than 50% survival rate. (On a personal note, my friend's baby weighed less than 500 grams and she's now a healthy 8-year-old.) Michelle believes that since she was late, she didn't get to meet with Kristen Neuhaus, who at that time was rubber-stamping all of Tiller's abortion patients as having some variety of medical necessity. Since Michelle had been late, she missed processing by Neuhaus, thus Sella had to fudge the records to get past the lack of a second physician's signature.
The PDF of a complaint against Tiller and Krisin Neuhaus was filed in October of 2006 and is available here. It includes the criminal complaints filed against Tiller for illegal late abortions:
Count One: On July 22, 2003, Tiller performed an about on a 14 year old patient who was 26 weeks pregnant, relying on a diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified or Adjustmen Disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood. This hardly constitutes a "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."
Count Two: On July 22, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a patient who was 29 weeks pregnant, reporting the fetus as being not viable but not having any basis for the determination. Nor was their any determonation of what health problem in the mother that supposedly necessitated the abortion.
Count Three: On July 8, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 10-year old patient who was 28 weeks pregnant. The girl had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Four: On July 8, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 28-weeks pregnant woman without determining fetal viability. There was no note of any medical condition of the mother.
Count Five: On July 15, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 15-year-old girl who was 28 weeks pregnant. She had a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Six: On July 15, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a patient who was 28 weeks pregnant. There was no note of any medical condition of the mother.
Dount Seven: On November 18, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 16-year-old who was 29 weeks pregnant. She had a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Eight: On November 18, 2003, Tiller did an abortion on a patient who was 29 weeks pregnant, without any basis for the abortion documented.
Count Nine: On July 30, 2003, Tiller performed an abotion on a 19-year-old patient who was 27 weeks pregnant, relying on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Ten: On July 30, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a patient who was 27 weeks pregnant, diagnosing the fetus as non-viable but with no indication of how this was supposedly determined.
Count Eleven: On August 19, 2003, Tiller performed an aboriton on a 22-year-old patient who was 31 weeks pregnant, relying on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Twelve: On August 19, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a patient who was 31 weeks pregnant, without any documentaion of what the supposed medical justification was.
Count Thirteen: On August 5, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 15-year-old girl who was 26 weeks pregnant, based on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Fourteen: On August 5, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a woman who was 26 weeks pregnant, without any documentaion of the supposed medical justification.
Count Fifteen: Blurred, referring to an abortion on August 5, 2003.
Count Sixteen: Blurred, so I can't determine the date of the abortion. The patient was 28 weeks pregnant. There was no documentation of the supposed medical justification for the abortion.
Count Seventeen: On August 12, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 15-year-old girl who was 25 weeks pregnant, based on Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Eighteen: On August 12, 2003, Tiller perfomed an abortion on a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant, not documeting the alleged medical justification.
Count Nineteen: On August 19, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 15-year-old who was 26 weeks pregnant, based on a diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder. (A refreshing departure from the standard Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.)
Count Twenty: On August 19, Tiller performed an abortion on a patient who was 26 weeks pregnant, without documenting the supposed medical justification.
Count Twenty One: On November 4, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 15-year-old girl who was 25 weeks pregnant on the basis of a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Twenty Two: On November 4, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a patient who was 25 weeks pregnant, wihtout any documentation of the supposed medical justification.
Count Twenty Three: On August 26, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 14-year-old patient who was 25 weeks pregnant, based on a diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder. (I guess they decided to vary the mental health diagnoses instead of using the same one again and again and again.)
Count Twenty Four: On August 26, 2003, Tiller did an abortion on a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant without documenting the alleged medical justification.
Count Twenty Five: On September 9, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a 15-year-old girl who was 25 weeks pregnant, reverting to Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode.
Count Twenty Six: On September 9, 2003, Tiller did an abortion on a 25 weeks pregnant woman, wihout documeting whatever her supposed health problem was.
Count Twenty Seven: On November 4, 2003, Tiller did an abortion on an 18-year-old patient who was 25 weeks pregnant. This one was Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified or Acute Stress Disorder, which we'd not seen for what, a year now?
Count Twenty Eight: On November 4, 2003, Tiller did an abortion on a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant, without documeting whatever her medical problem was supposed to be.
Count Twenty Nine: On Nobember 4, 2003, Tiller did an abortion on a 13-year-old girl who was 25 weeks pregnant, based on no established diagnosis whatsoever.
Count Thirty: On November 4, 2003, Tiller performed an abortion on a patient who was 25 weeks pregnant, stating that the fetus was not viable but not saying how this was supposedly determined.
The complaint filed with the medical board includes a copy of an email a woman called "Janice" sent to Troy Newman, indicating that were the Board to want to contact the woman to verify her story, they woudl be provided with this information:
I do however agree with you on one thing now, and that is that Dr Tiller's abortion clinic should be closed. After some deep soul searching and many sleepless nights up thinking about the care I recieved there, I agree it's not right. I live in Canada, a country with some of the world's best health care, and free health care at that. I think I was so grateful to him [abortionist George R. Tiller] because he was able to terminate a pregnancy for me becaues I couldn't face the results of that pregnancy.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not some girl off the street who got pregnant and decided in my third trimester that all of the sudden I was not ready to be a parent. I was newly married had a new home and had been helpoing raise my stepson since he was 6 months old. We were beyond elated to be having this baby we loved her from the minute we found out she was coming. We had the nursery all painted and basically we were waiting.
I was due to have her on the 15th of January, 2004. It wasn't until the 23rd of December that it was noticed that there was something wrong during a routine ultrasound. The next day (Christmas Eve) me and my husband were sent to [a] hospital They [the hospital] have the best prenatal diagnosis and medical genetics program in the country. It was then, after a bunch of tests, that they were able to tell me that our daughter, whom we were expecting in less then a month, more then likely had Complete Trisomy 22, a condition incompatable with life.
An MRI the day after Christmas confirmed that this was true. I was then faced with two decision: I could wait and deliver at any time and watch my child expire before my eyes while I stood there helplessly and did nothing, or I could go see this doctor in Wichita who would terminate my pregnancy for me so that I would not have to go through that. I was distraught. I didn't know what to do and I let others sway me into going to see him. Now I don't know what these procedurs normally cost being that we have free health care here but Dr. Tiller charged 19000 Dollars US. OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) paid for it, of course, and then all I had to pay for was my flight and accommodations and to have the body of my daughter sent back to [Canada] for a full autopsy.
Now most of my trip to Kansas is a blur. This is because from the time you arrive at Dr. Tiller's clinic, you are on some form of drugs. You're in a daze. Though I remember a lot, there is a lot I don't remember. I will never however forget the day I was given the digoxin shot through my stomach into the heart of my baby. It took me 45 minutes to calm down enough so that DR. Tiller and one of his nurses (sic) could come in to do this. I was hysterical because after this there was no turning back. By telling them I was ready for them to come in and do it, I was telling them that it was okay to kill my daughter. They sedated me and then did it. (Emphesis mine -- CED)
Now I have spoken to many other women who have been to Dr. Tiller's clinic. NONE of them were sedated for the procedure. I woke up and my baby was dead. After that I was given a prescription for a drug called "Pentazocine," while all the other women were given a rpescription for something similar to TYLENOL #3.
I was then sent to have laminaria packed up into me. While inserting the laminaria they broke my water "accidentlly." I was then shipped off to the La Quinta where my labour began.
It's now 6 pm the clinic is closed for the day and I'm in pretty intense labour. My contractions were less then 5 minutes apart. My mother, who was with me at the time, called down to Edna's room. (-Ed. Note: This is Tiller employee Edna Roach.] Edna told my mom to give me 2 pills, then one every hour. After that I didn't know my left from my right. After a few hours I was to the point where I was begging my mother for no more pills. I was in excruciating pain and I was vomiting from the pills. I had this HORRIBLE pain in my cervix that to this day I can't explain. (To this day, I still experience that pain from time to time.) My mother called Edna serveral more times she finally came down to my room and examined me on the hotel bed and said I was fine. [Ed. note: Edna is not a nurse or in any way a licensed health professional. - CED] Then she gave me another shot that sedated me. The pain was so intense that when it would come I sould come out of the sedation and pass back out. This persisted for several hours until the sedation wore off.
By this time it was about 1 am and my contractions were one minute apart. My mom called Edna sevaral times screaming at her. She then came again and gave me another shot and sedated me. All the while I was still taking the pills every hour on the hour. By the time the second round of the sedation had worn off, I could no longer stand because of the drugs and because of the extreme pressure on my pelvis.
I remember saying I needed to go to a hospital I didn't care about Dr. Tiller's clinic. I needed another doctor. My mom was crying and she ran into the hall. When she opened the door. the man in the next room heard me crying and screaming. He was a doctor. I thought I was saved! Turns out the doctor in the next room was [Tiller abortionist] Dr. [LeRoy] Carhart. He had just arrived and checked into the hotel. He came in and examined me. Immediately he called Edna and the exchanged some harsh words and he said I needed to go to the clinic NOW.
I had to be carried out to the van. Both me and my mother [were] in the back seat. Dr. Carhart and Edna [were] in the front. My mother and I had to listen to Edna's rap music the whole way there, which I found highly unprofessional. At this piont, [my mother and I] were both, like, what did we get ourselves into? What kind of clinic is this? I left the hotal at 5:15 am by the time I got to Dr. TIller's clinic (they brought me in through [Tiller's private] garage) they registered me, undressed me, sedated me, and I delivered my child. It was 6 am, 45 minutes [after I arrived at the clinic.]
I do remember a few minor things about the delivery, but because of the anesthetic, I hardly remember anythign at all. I was sent back to the hotel at 9 am. I returned to the clinic around 10 am the next day for a "check-up." It was at this time I was allowed to hold my daughter and have her baptized. They recommended I did not look at her becaues of all the disfigurements she had due to the Trisomy 22. They suggested it would be better for me to just think of her as the perfect little baby I had imagined she would be.
Now when you first get to the clinic you get a check list of things you can ask for, [for example] the baby blanket, hand and foot prints, pictures, etc. I asked for these things and they told me they would mail them to me. I was hysterical. I just needed something to hold onto. I threw a fit in a waiting room (a waiting room I had never seen before). It was FULL of people. All of a sudden, they brought me my stuff. It seemed to me as soon as my abortion was over they couldn't wait to get rid of me.
[Tiller employee] Sarah Phares and [former abortion chaplain] Reverend Gardner [-Ed. Note: Gardner is now deceased.] however were there for me and consoled me to the best of their abilities. I now see that the medical care I received there was the worst kind of medical care one could ever [have] received.
Now my story is almost over, but there is a little more to it. The prescription I was given there had a refull on it, but it cost 75 dollars US to fill this so I figured I would wait until the next day when I got home to refill this prescription because it would only cost me 35 cents. (I have a medical plan.) So I had been home for 2 days and had not slept. I was vomiting I had nosebleeds, the shakes, the sweats, and uncontrollable spasms. I thought this was because of stress, so I went to see my doctor and he wanted to run tests. I agreed. On my way out his door I remembered my prescription so I gave it to him and asked for the refill. He looked at me with a very strange look on his face and asked me to sit down. He explained to me that this drug was illegal in Canada and he could not give it to me, and that basically it was synthetic heroine (sic). And he couldn't believe the amount of milligrams in each pill. I then explained to him that I was told to take 2 then one every hour. He then did a quick blood test and it confirmed that the levels of pentazocine in my system now -- let alone 2 days ago -- should have killed me. I was not having all these symptoms from stress. They were my body's way of trying to detox me.
Am am no longer grateul for Dr. Tiller "helping me." He didn't help me at all. I wish now I would [have] had the courage to deliver my little girl and let her get even just one breath or air before she passed, to let her see my face just once before she passed. I will never have that chance now and I will always have to live with thedecison I made and the nightmares of what happened to me in Kansas. All I have now is my little 6 lb. 2 oz. daughter's ashes in a tiny silver engraved box in my living room. I have a small box of pictures and footprints and a receiving blanket with green goop on it that I can't bring myself to wash because I think it will wash her away. I still cry every day and I miss her every day. Dr. Tiller didn't help me. He robbed me and I let him. Women need to know what goes on there. People need to be eduated on what goes on inside his clinic.
Oh -- and Tiller's a member of the National Abortion Federation.
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