Thursday, October 09, 2014

State officials and seedy abortion mills

On October 9, 2002, the Professional Underwriters Liability Insurance Company reported to theState Board of Medicine that it had paid a $400,000 settlement to the family of Semika Shaw, a 22- year-old who died following an abortion at Kermit Gosnell’s "house of horrors" in March of 2000. The report noted that, “Autopsy report indicated perforation of cervix into uterus. Heirs alleged our insured improperly performed the termination procedure and failed to diagnose post-op uterine perforation resulting in sepsis and death.” The Department had received a detailed complaint the previous December informing them of appalling conditions and about the patient's death.

The October 9 report wasn't even logged  in as “received” by the  “Complaints Office” until December 6, 2002. 

In January if 2003, the Pennsylvania Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss Fund reported to the Department of State that it had paid an additional $500,000 to the family, thus reminding Department employees of the situation.

The file showed no further activity until January 2, 2004 – when a one-page printout of Gosnell’s license information is stamped “received” by the complaints office.

The next action recorded in the file is a “Prosecution Evaluation,” dated April 29, 2004, in which Mark Greenwald, a prosecuting attorney for the Board of Medicine purportedly summarizes the case concluding that no action was necessary. This is all it said:
Brief Factual Summary: The file was opened as a result of a Medical Malpractice Payment Report. The underlying malpractice case involved the death of a 22 year old female following the termination of her 5th pregnancy. Following a seemingly routine procedure on 3/1/02, the patient was taken to the ER at the University of Pennsylvania with complaints of pain and heavy bleeding. The patient underwent surgery but the surgeon was unable to locate any perforation and the patient died from infection and sepsis. Although the incident is tragic, especially in light of the age of the patient, the risk was inherent with the procedure performed by Respondent [Gosnell] and administrative action against respondent’s license is not warranted. RECOMMENDATION: Z-02, Prosecution not Warranted

Greenwald’s supervisor, Charles J. Hartwell, the Senior Prosecutor-in-Charge at the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, reviewed Greenwald’s “evaluation” and approved it on May 14, 2004.  On that same date, the Department closed the case on the complaint brought to them in December of 2001 by former Gosnell employee Marcella Stanley Choung informing them:
  • that Gosnell was using her and other unlicensed workers to administer IV anesthesia
  • that they were administering this anesthesia when neither Gosnell nor anybody else qualified to supervise anesthesia was at the clinic
  • that two sickly, vomiting, flea-infested cats had run of the clinic, including the procedure rooms
  • that the autoclave for sterilizing instruments was broken
  • that Gosnell re-used single-use instruments
  • that Gosnell would perform forced abortions on underage girls at their parents' request
  • about the death the previous year of Semika Shaw
  • about the "pill mill" Gosnell was running from the clinic
  • that one patient and another employee would be willing to talk to them and verify what she was telling them
 Their entire investigation into Choung's complaint had consisted of three phone calls, none of them to the people Choung said could substantiate her claims. There was no visit to the clinic and no request to review patient files. The complaint was not even forwarded to the Department of Health, which was responsible for licensing and inspecting clinics.

Not that this would have accomplished anything: The DOH had first inspected and given a 12-month license to Gosnell's clinic in 1979, in spite of numerous and alarming shortcomings, and didn't review the clinic again until 1989, when it was again permitted to stay open in spite of multiple shortcomings that clearly endangered patients. They repeated this type of review in 1992, again approving the facility in spite of appalling conditions, and in 1993 they reported that previous deficiencies had been corrected, despite continuing deplorable conditions,because of a new politically-motivated policy not to inspect abortion clinics unless they'd gotten a complaint.

Custom: 75mg Dem - 12.5mg Prom. 10mg Diaz. Twilight: 75mg Dem - 12.5mg Prom 7.5mg Diazz. Heavy: 50mg Dem - 12.5mg Prom. 5mg Diaz. Local: 10nalb - 12.5mg Prom
Drug dosage chart created c. 1995 by 15-year-old
Ashley Baldwin for use by other staff
at Gosnell's clinic.
They did not enter the clinic again until they were invited to do so by the DEA and Philadelphia DA for the drug raid in 2010. In the 16 years since the new head-in-the-sand policy, they had failed to investigate after receiving at least 6 serious complaints including two reports of patient deaths.

And in spite of this egregious example of state official repeatedly and deliberately turning a blind eye in spite of substantial evidence, abortion-rights advocates continue to insist that if a state authority gives an abortion facility an all-clear, then all is well regardless of how well substantiated any outside reports might be. And in states that try to pass and enforce laws cleaning up seedy abortion clinics, abortion-rights advocates continue to play Pollyanna and fight in favor of abortion practitioners to be as nasty as they wanna be. I've dubbed this "access uber all" mentality "the Compton-Carr Effect" after its most eloquent advocate, Janis Compton-Carr of the Florida Abortion Council.

"In my gut, I am completely aghast at what goes on at that place. But I staunchly oppose anything that would correct this situation in law."  Prochoice activist Janis Compton-CarrUntil citizens -- especially prochoice citizens -- start holding abortion-rights groups, politicians, bureaucrats, and even media accountable, appalling conditions will continue to be permitted, and women will continue to suffer and die.

It's about time women's lives became at least as worthy of preservation as "abortion access."

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