Monday, August 10, 2015

From the "Back Alley" to "Safe and Legal"

On August 10, 1917, 29-year-old Emelia Gorman died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from a criminal abortion perpetrated that day by Dr. Anna Sorenson. Although Sorenson was indicted by a Grand Jury on September 1, she remained free to perform fatal abortions on Mrs. M. Linstrom in November and Margaret Crowe in January of the following year. Sorenson was finally arrested on January 15, and her killing spree came to an end when she herself died in prison while awaiting trial.

Let's move ahead to the era of safe, legal abortions in freestanding clinics.

A middle-aged man with dark hair and eyeglasses
Bernard Nathanson
Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health ("CRASH") was the model abortion clinic -- a published review of their earliest patient records, published by Bernard Nathanson, played a key role in "proving the safety of legal outpatient abortion."

On August 10, 1988, 19-year-old K.B. was given anesthesia for a safe, legal 14-week abortion. Since Life Dynamics calls her "Kelly" on their "Blackmun Wall" of women killed by abortion, I will refer to her as Kelly as well.

Shortly after the procedure, she showed signs of distress, but emergency measures were not instituted for almost an hour. Kelly was transported to Cabrini Medical Center where she was pronounced dead from complications of anesthesia.

After Kelly's death, the health department investigated and found a mystery: Kelly's chart listed her post-operative condition as "pink, responsive, alert," even though she had gone into full cardio-respiratory arrest by the time indicated on the assessment. They learned that the note had been entered into the chart before the abortion was even performed.

The inspectors noted that CRASH "did not employ proper monitoring equipment or procedures," "had no working EKG machine," and didn't have a cardiac defibrillator. They noted that no one on staff was qualified to perform CPR. No one on staff was qualified to administer anesthesia, and they did not use proper procedures or equipment. Anesthesia was administered "by eye," with no means of accurately measuring the dose. Dosage was estimated to be twice that recommended in the procedure manual.

The operating rooms were found to be ill-lit, and there was no soap or paper towels at the scrub sink. The scrub sinks were stained, the walls and floors dirty, trash was stored in the scrub room. There were red make-up stains on the oxygen masks and nitrous oxide masks, dusty tubing on the suction machines, and blood on the wheels of the operating table.

A professional headshot of a middle-aged man with a neatly trimmed beard and eyeglasses
David Gluck
CRASH had no documentation verifying the credentials or qualifications of medical director David Gluck. Gluck had been previously convicted of felony charges related to the sale of 48,000 Diluadid tablets to pay off gambling debts. His license had actually been revoked two months before K.B.'s death, but had been restored by judicial stay.

There was no evidence at the investigation two weeks after Kelly's death that Gluck had reviewed her chart, or the charts of 18 other patients identified as having suffered complications.

The state closed CRASH for 60 days, but it never re-opened.

Dr. Gluck went on to perform the fatal abortion on Alerte Desanges in 1994.

Overdosed patient and failed to resuscitate her. Charted her as pink, alert, responsive when she was already dead

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