Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reviewing Kansas late abortions

I posted this a year ago but it deserves to be revisited, with the anniversary of Tiller's murder bringing the hagiographers out of the woodwork.

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.


For more information, see A maternal-fetal specialist comments on Tiller's practice

4 comments:

OperationCounterstrike said...

That's DOCTOR Tiller, to you.

GrannyGrump said...

I don't owe that man a shred of respect. He was a vulture, getting rich off women's despair and bewilderment by KILLING THEIR BABIES.

He was a tool of Satan. Which I realize makes you admire him but it doesn't entitle him to a shred of respect from any decent human being.

OperationCounterstrike said...

That may be but he held an MD and practiced medicine, so to you he's still DOCTOR Tiller.

The only person you denigrate by omitting his title is yourself.

GrannyGrump said...

If I call that creature "doctor" I am dishonoring every decent, conscientious, honest, highly professional, ethical doctor.

He was a cold-blooded killer for hire, a vulture who preyed on the vulnerable. Just because this makes YOU admire him doesn't entitle him to jack shit.

Not to mention he's dead. Odds are my refusal to give him a title that should have been stripped from him decades earlier are the least of his problems at the moment, given where odds are he is at the moment.