Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Needless Death and a Record Rivaling a Pair of Criminals

Those insist that legalization of abortion is necessary to keep our daughters safe might want to speak to Lou Ann Herron's father, Mike Gibb, who silently wept in the courtroom as he listened to witnesses describe how his daughter died from a safe-n-legal abortion. On April 17, 1998, 33-year-old Lou Ann bled to death after a late abortion at the now defunct A-Z Women's Center.

Medical assistant Sylvia Aragon wept on the witness stand as she said that Lou Ann's pregnancy was "too far along" for an abortion. Prosecutors said that Dr. John Biskind had ordered a total of seven ultrasounds performed, with estimates ranging from 23 weeks 3 days to 26 weeks. However, only the ultrasound that showed the pregnancy as 23 weeks 3 days was forwarded to the medical examiner; the others were lost or destroyed by the facility.

The abortion was performed at 1:30 p.m.Two medical assistants testified that Lou Ann was very frightened about her condition as she lay in recovery. She begged, they said, to know what was wrong with her. She cried out in pain as she lay in a puddle of blood for three hours. Biskind fixed her IV (complaining that there was no qualified nurse on staff to do this), reassured her, and left the building at around 3:45 p.m.

Clinic administrator Carole Stuart-Schadoff had a staffer page Biskind 25 minutes later when Lou Ann's condition worsened. Biskind did not return to the clinic, but told staff to call 911.

When the rescue crew arrived, Phoenix fire captain Biran Tobin Tobin testified that Lou Ann appeared to be dead. Nobody at the clinic seemed aware of how grave her condition was, he said, and nobody seemed to be helping her in any way. Staff told Tobin that Lou Ann's vitals were pulse 100, blood pressure 90/50. "It was very difficult for me to believe that they could get the vital signs of a woman who, even as we walked in the door, looked really dead," he said. "I very quickly felt that there wasn't a lot of competent medical care going on at the time."

Biskind surrendered his license to practice medicine in Arizona after Lou Ann's death in order to stop an ongoing medical board investigation of the circumstances and his handling of the case.

A former Maricopa County medical examiner testified that the tear in LouAnne's uterus was caused by medical instruments, and not by a fetal body part as the defense suggested. However, even had the injury been caused by a fetal body part, this is an expected complication and would not have excused Biskind from his duty to notice and treat the injury.

Biskind on trial
Emergency room physician John Gallagher testified that Lou Ann could have been saved had she been brought into surgery promptly. This assessment is in keeping with a CDC study concluding that given the training and resources available to physicians, no woman need bleed to death from a legal abortion.

Gallagher testified that the records clearly indicated serious trouble at 1:25 p.m., 16 minutes after Lou Ann had been taken to the recovery room. During her last hours in the recovery room, Lou Ann became combative, anxious and frightened, and she reported that her legs were going numb. These, Gallagher noted, are all clear signs of severe blood loss. Instead of recognizing the danger she was in, Gallagher noted, Biskind instead tried to calm Lou Ann and reassure her that she would be "just fine."

Jury foreman Russell Craig, 56, spoke for the jury in the aftermath of the abortion death trial. He reported that he and other jurors were haunted by vivid dreams. He was particularly disturbed by the autopsy photos.
According to Craig, Biskind was his own worst enemy. "At one point when the prosecutor had finished his closing arguments," Craig told a reporter, "he applauded. It certainly didn't make much of an impression."
Only after the trial was over did members of the jury learn of Biskind's history of misconduct, including the previous death of another abortion patient.

A-Z owner Moshe Hachamovitch's license had been suspended in New York for nine months on the grounds of gross negligence, gross incompetence, and inaccurate patient records. His license was again suspended in New York for practicing fraudulently and failing to maintain adequate records.
Hachamovitch himself performed the fatal abortions on Tanya Williamson, Luz Rodriguez, and Christina Goesswein. Jammie Garcia died after a safe and legal abortion at Hachamovitch's Texas facility.

Whether at his own hands or under his direction at his facilities, Hachamovitch was responsible for the deaths of seven abortion patients, nearly as many as were connected with two criminal abortionists, Dr. Richard Thacker and Dr. John Eisiminger, in the pre-atnibiotic, pre-blood transfusion days of the 1930s.

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