Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Those "life saving" Tiller abortions of "fetuses with fatal abnormalities"

I've spent a little more time looking at the Kansas abortion reports Kathy provided links to in a response to a post. Now, not all of these abortions were Tiller abortions, because in two reported cases, a doctor in another state did a post-22 week abortion on a Kansas woman and reported it to the Kansas health department. These doctors gave no reason for stating that the patient's baby wasn't viable. But since Tiller was The Late Abortionist, it's a pretty safe bet that by far the bulk of the reported post-22-week abortions were his.

First, let's look at the claim that Tiller was doing abortions to save the woman's life. I went through all the data, from 1998 through 2008. In exactly ZERO cases did a Kansas doctor, including Tiller, report doing an abortion after 22 weeks because the woman's life was in danger. Not a single one of these third trimester abortions was done even ostensibly to save the mother's life. Which, of course, makes sense, since it's nonsensical to check a moribund woman into a motel rather than a hospital.

There was room on the form to indicate what the mother's health condition was. There is no indication that any doctor, including Tiller, ever reported a specific reason for believing the mother was in danger of an "irreversible impairment" of a bodily function. The only reason ever given was a generic one, "Gestational and diagnostic information provided by the referring physician and other health care professional(s) as well as examination and interview of the patient by attending physician." Not once did any doctor, including Tiller, ever indicate "diabetes" or "cancer" or "toxemia" or "pre-eclampsia" or any other medical condition giving him a reason to believe that the patient was in danger.

In the case of an admittedly viable fetus, the form also asks if the risk of "irreversible impairment" to the mother was physical or mental. There is no record that any reporting doctor classified the risk of "irreversible impairment" to be either physical or mental. The closest any doctor, including Tiller, ever came to giving a condition that the woman was suffering was "medical emergency", which was reported on 1 of 301 abortions in 1999. This might have actually been an emergency abortion performed in a hospital, either in Kansas, or on a Kansas resident in another state.

The question about how it was determined that the fetus was non-viable was open-ended. It appears that if a doctor listed a reason once, that reason would remain as a possibility on future reports, even if doctor reported zero in subsequent years.

In that 11 year period, doctors reported that 2,968 of the third-trimester fetuses aborted were viable. They reported that 181 of them were too young to be viable. They reported specific diagnoses as to why 15 fetuses weren't viable. And they just used "professional judgment" with no diagnosis to state that 1,894 of those third-trimester babies were "not viable".

So, of 5,058 third trimester abortions in that 11-year period:

2,968, or 59%, were admittedly viable babies.
15, or .3%, had some specific condition that would make a doctor believe they weren't viable.
181, or 3.5%, were too young to be viable
1,894, or 37%, were just in the doctor's "professional judgment", not viable. Not that there was anything specific wrong with the baby. Not that the baby had immature organs, a genetic abnormality, or something serious wrong with heart or lungs or kidneys.

And of the 15 babies where a doctor, possibly Tiller, actually reported an unfavorable prenatal diagnosis, the reasons were:

"Ultrasound -- Extreme immaturity of heart and lungs" - 1 in 1999 (Could this baby's heart and lungs have matured if given more time to gestate?)
"Hypoplastic Left Heart, Chromosome abnormality" - 1 in 1999, 1 in 2002, 1 in 2004 (Hypoplastic left heart is treatable with surgery, though pretty intensive and risky surgery; The doctor(s) didn't indicate what the concurrent chromosome abnormality was)
"0 Apgar score; mother had severe oligohydramnios; fetus had poly/multicystic kidney disease" - 1 in 1999, 1 in 2005 (The polycystic kidney disease is typical fatal, but how he could say a fetus has a 0 Apgar score is mystifying, since this is a measure of a newborn's wellness)
"Diagnosis by genetic specialist with no amniotic fluid and other abnormalities" - 1 in 1999 (No amniotic fluid typically is indicative of severe kidney problems)
"Extreme Immaturity of Organs" - 3 in 2001 (Could these babies' organs have matured if they'd have been given more time to gestate?)
"Anencephaly" - 1 in 2002
"Hypoplastic L Heart determined by Level 2 ULS and perinatology consultation" - 1 in 2002
"Trisomy 22 Hydrocephaly" - 1 - in 2002
"Not Stated" - 1 in 2003, 1 in 2004 (Performed out of state on Kansas resident)

Why were there specific diagnoses only give for 15 babies? Were these aborted by other doctors who were filling out their forms honestly? Were they the only cases in which Tiller had a patient with a patient whose baby actually did have a condition considered "incompatible with life" rather than Down syndrome or other "quality of life" diagnoses, for which he'd just make a vague statement about "professional judgment"?

Tiller took these answers to his grave.

14 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"First, let's look at the claim that Tiller was doing abortions to save the woman's life. I went through all the data, from 1998 through 2008. In exactly ZERO cases did a Kansas doctor, including Tiller, report doing an abortion after 22 weeks because the woman's life was in danger."

In other words he put down various health issues but because he didn;t literally write the words "mother's life is in danger" you assume that was never the case.

Come on, Christina, that's ridiculous. It's borderline childish, in fact. Just because he doesn't use one specific phrase means nothing. Clearly he indicated health issues for the mother as you acknowledge ("There is no indication that any doctor, including Tiller, ever reported a specific reason for believing the mother was in danger of an "irreversible impairment" of a bodily function. The only reason ever given was a generic one, "Gestational and diagnostic information provided by the referring physician and other health care professional(s) as well as examination and interview of the patient by attending physician."")

This is akin to you looking at a death certificate and saying "Aha! No where on this piece of paper does it say the person is "kaput" so clearly they are still alive!"

Tlaloc said...

"Tiller took these answers to his grave."

And I'll remind you , once more, that before he took them to his grave you hauled them before a review board, a jury, and a grand jury and no basis was found for any wrong doing.

This guy must have been batman to commit thousands of illegal abortions and never leave a single scrap of evidence.

or...

GrannyGrump said...

Tlaloc, HE DIDN"T PUT DOWN ANY HEALTH REASONS.

There were two check boxes, one for "to save patient's life" and one for the "to prevent irreversible harm yada yada yada". In not one case did he put a check mark by "save patient's life."

He never listed a single specific health concern. Not once. Not "depression". Not "suicidal ideation". Not "cancer". Not "pre-eclampsia". Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Now YOU are claiming that what? What reason could he have had for not ticking off the check box "save patient's life" if these patients' lives were in danger?

GrannyGrump said...

And on death certificates, Tlaloc, they have to put a cause of death. If they put "In physician's best professional judgment, patient is dead", the health department would send it back and make the doctor fill it out properly.

Evidently not so with the abortion reports.

Keep digging, Tlaloc. You're proving my point of how blindly devoted Tiller's acolytes are far more than I could do alone.

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, HE DIDN"T PUT DOWN ANY HEALTH REASONS. "

You explicitly say he did: "Gestational and diagnostic information provided by the referring physician and other health care professional(s) as well as examination and interview of the patient by attending physician."

That is a health reason. Does it explicitly spell it out? No. But it is clearly saying the health of the patient is the motivation.



"There were two check boxes, one for "to save patient's life" and one for the "to prevent irreversible harm yada yada yada". In not one case did he put a check mark by "save patient's life.""

So maybe none of them were to save the life. Or maybe he just doesn't fill out paperwork well. You want to pretend incomplete paperwork is proof beyond a reasonable doubt?



"And on death certificates, Tlaloc, they have to put a cause of death. If they put "In physician's best professional judgment, patient is dead", the health department would send it back and make the doctor fill it out properly. Evidently not so with the abortion reports."

You're right because an abortion report is not a death certificate. You want to pretend it is because you want to believe the fetus was a person, but legally (we'll leave aside rationally for the moment) it isn't. Once again you are creating artificial standards based on what you think should be, rather than what is and then are shocked when people don;t live up to them.

Tlaloc said...

Let me turn this around on you a bit-
if your entire argument comes down to "he didn't check off this box" and you believe Tiller was the kind of guy who enjoyed killing babies why do you think he didn't just check the box off to give himself an alibi?

Do you mean to suggest that Tiller was simultaneous A) completely unethical murderer and B)scrupulously honest about paperwork?

Doesn't that seem just a tad far fetched? Isn't there a much easier answer? One that doesn't require such a bizarre personality complex? It's not like inattention to paperwork is a rarething in society.

Occam's Razor, Christina.

Kathy said...

Tlaloc,

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the likeliest scenario is that Tiller filled out all the forms exactly the same way -- rubber-stamping them just like Neuhaus rubber-stamped the "second physician" approval. Probably robotic. Doesn't mean it was accurate; just identical.

An interesting thing -- on the paperwork for my firstborn's birth certificate, there were check-boxes for various things that the midwife had to fill out -- yes or no for various medical things. One of the things was for postpartum hemorrhage, which I had, but which was so rare for her, that she automatically checked the "no" box, then went back and scribbled that out and checked the "yes" box. Considering that some abortion mills and doctors have been caught charting patients' post-op records prior to the procedure starting, and charting dead patients as being "pink and alert", I don't think that Tiller has to be "scrupulously honest about paperwork" in order for every single abortion he performed to be nominally done for "health" reasons (which is a loophole that stretches around the galaxy, btw, thanks to the Supreme Court) and none for the mother's life. He could have even had the paperwork filled out before even seeing patients, for all you know, only filling in the names, dates, and other pertinent information.

He wouldn't exactly fill out the form in such a way as to incriminate himself, now would he? That would just be plain stupid -- like turning oneself into the IRS for an audit. OF COURSE all his paperwork showed that the abortions were within the realm of legality. It would be criminally stupid to say, "Yeah, I killed this 36-week fetus because his mom decided she didn't want a baby, but I'm an honest murderer, so I'll say that the abortion was elective and not for maternal health reasons."

You may or may not be familiar with truck drivers and the rules and regulations they operate under, but it is illegal for them to drive longer than a certain number of hours per day, nor to be "on duty" longer than a certain number of hours per day, and they have to keep a log book of their hours. Do you think that if a truck driver is going to drive over hours that he will admit it on a log book that will be checked at a weigh station or if he is pulled over?

Christina's right -- you do show astounding credulity for the word of Tiller that he did nothing wrong -- and he's got his paperwork to prove it!

Tlaloc said...

"It doesn't take a genius to realize that the likeliest scenario is that Tiller filled out all the forms exactly the same way -- rubber-stamping them just like Neuhaus rubber-stamped the "second physician" approval. Probably robotic. Doesn't mean it was accurate; just identical."

I agree, that does seem the most likely explanation, and it is also why trying to glean facts from such forms is useless.

You are making my point for me- the methodology Christina uses here is incapable of proving the point she wants to make. If she wanted to prove that he was sloppy about paperwork she'd have some compelling evidence.



"He wouldn't exactly fill out the form in such a way as to incriminate himself, now would he?"

According to Christina that's EXACTLY what he did. I find that hard to believe, apparently you do too.



"Do you think that if a truck driver is going to drive over hours that he will admit it on a log book that will be checked at a weigh station or if he is pulled over?"

That's the opposite of what you have here Kathy! Here you have Tiller apparently admitting via his paperwork that there was no good (legal) reason for the abortion. You want to assume he self incriminated instead of the obvious answer- that the paperwork was filled out with a rubberstamp approach, as you yourself suggest above.



"Christina's right -- you do show astounding credulity for the word of Tiller that he did nothing wrong -- and he's got his paperwork to prove it!"

Kathy look at the facts. Tiller was probably the single most vetted doctor in the entire world. You had a huge group of people willing to do anything, say anything, to take him down. They failed for decades. You had a civil court case come back not guilty. You had a grand jury refuse to indict. You an ethics charge dismissed as groundless.

How many people have had such a thorough judging of their actions and come out spotless as Tiller did? Most presidential candidates don't have this much digging into their past done to them.

Again this leads to only a few possibilities:
A) Prolifers suck at this stuff
B) Tiller was a demigod of hiding the evidence, OR
C) the guy was simply innocent.

You know what Occam's razor is right? Well it pretty clearly points to C as the most likely answer. Take a step back and look at how ridiculous your case against Tiller really is. ALL OF THE FACTS are against you. The only things you have are suppositions made by people with heavy prejudices and who have little to no access to the facts of the matter.

and you call me "credulous?"

SegaMon said...

Tlaloc: "Tiller was probably the single most vetted doctor in the entire world."

*rolls eyes*

In nursing, we have a common saying: "if it wasn't documented, it wasn't done!" So let's say I gave a medication but did not note it down on the medication form. That would mean to all of the others that read the document that I did not give the medication.

There are countless of cases against nurses where their licenses were revoked from them strictly because their documentation was put up on the screen in a courtroom with a very skilled prosecutor explaining all of the mistakes.

I cannot see why Tiller would get a pass for such shoddy paperwork while numerous nurses have their licenses revoked for the same reason.

Can anyone shed light on this? It doesn't make much sense to me. Proper documentation has always been a vital part of my nursing curriculum.

Tlaloc said...

"*rolls eyes*"

Can you name any doctor who has been better vetted? I'd really like to know who they are...

SegaMon said...

When you say "vetted," do you only mean that the Kansas Medical Board and a few juries have "vetted" Tiller? I'm sure I can name you some. If you can't find any on your own, let me know so that I can find some for you?

Although it matters in what way you interpret the word "vetted"... lol

Tlaloc said...

"When you say "vetted," do you only mean that the Kansas Medical Board and a few juries have "vetted" Tiller?"

There's the jury, the grand jury, the review board plus the fact that the prolife movement has spent decades going after this man with everything they had only to turn up nothing.



"I'm sure I can name you some. If you can't find any on your own, let me know so that I can find some for you?"

I would be curious to see that list, yes.

SegaMon said...

Tlaloc: "I would be curious to see that list, yes."

I don't have to be the only one looking for "well vetted" doctors. I was kindly suggesting that since you were the one inquiring that you should also be partly responsible for looking for them. I can find some. I will post them when I look for them later today.

Question: When you mean "vetted" are you referring only to doctors who have been indicted and brought to court numerous times? Or can "vetted" doctors also be those who hold acclaim from respected medical schools, hospitals, and organizations?

SegaMon said...

Sorry- due to my question, I will not search for "vetted" doctors until you let me know what you mean by that word. The reason for this is that if I search for doctors using the way that I take the word "vetted" then I will probably find the wrong group of doctors.