Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Anniversary: "This baby can't live or it will be a big mess!"

On March 2, 1977, a high school student named Mary W. checked into Westminster Community Hospital in California for a saline abortion to be performed by Dr. William Baxter Waddill (pictured). She had been examined by another ob/gyn on February 22, and he had informed her that, since she was 28 weeks into her pregnancy by his estimate, she was too far along for an abortion. He advised Mary to consider making an adoption plan. But somehow Mary had learned that Waddill would be willing to do the abortion, even at this late point in pregnancy. Waddill initiated the abortion by saline injection and left Mary in the care of the nurses.

Mary's baby, a 2 lb, 8 oz infant girl, was expelled that evening and discovered by a nurse who was attending Mary. The nurse clamped the cord and was about to put the baby in a bucket for transport to the pathology lab, when she noticed that the infant was moving and crying. Another nurse suggested putting the baby in the bucket anyway. Yet another nurse testified that she had seen the infant move but said nothing about this to avoid distressing Mary. The first nurse summoned the nursing supervisor, who noted that the baby was pink and making sucking motions. She sent the baby to the nursery and summoned Waddill.

A nurse at the nursery cleared the infant's throat, placed her in an isolette, and charted a heartrate of 88. A neonatal ICU nurse began providing respiratory assistance on the little girl, and asked for help performing an intubation, which is routine NICU care. Waddill arrived and dismissed all the others from room. Several witnesses heard Waddill instruct staff "not to do a goddam thing for the baby." An ER doctor saw Waddill squeeze the umbilical cord, whereupon the "child jerked its body and gasped for air."

During Waddill's trial, a tape was entered into evidence of a call from Waddill to a pediatrician, Dr. Ronald Cornelsen. The tape had Waddill telling Dr. Cornelsen to come to the hospital, because the law required a pediatrician to assist when a newborn was in distress. Waddill said, "If we all tell the same story, there will be no trouble. ... So long as we stand together, no one anywhere can make any accusations anywhere. ... Do not get squirrely. Just tell them exactly as we've discussed. Just say you went in, there was no heartbeat and you left."

Dr. Cornelsen testified that when he arrived at the hospital the infant, a baby of about 31 weeks gestation, was breathing and had a heart rate of 60-70. There were bruises on her neck. Dr. Cornelson said that Waddill told him, "Sorry to get you in this mess. We had a baby that came out live from a saline abortion, and it can't live!" Dr. Cornelsen testified that he saw Waddill press on the infant's neck, saying, "I can't find the goddam trachea," and "This baby won't stop breathing." Dr. Cornelsen testified, "I said, 'Why not just leave the baby alone?' He said, 'This baby can't live or it will be a big mess.'" Waddill requested potassium choloride, for an injection to stop the baby's heart, but Dr. Cornelsen wouldn't let the nurse get it. Dr. Cornelsen said Waddill also asked for a bucket to drown the baby in.

Waddill claimed that he hadn't strangled the baby, that she had died of natural causes before he even arrived at the hospital to deal with the delivery. He also said that all of his actions were done in the best interests of the mother and the baby.

A pathologist examined the baby's lungs and concluded that she'd been alive for at least 30 minutes. The neck trauma was "consistent with manual pressure, and inconsistent with saline." This pathologist also testified that only the infant's placenta and small bowel seemed to have been "significantly affected by the saline," meaning that the baby had not suffered fatal injury from exposure to the saline in-utero. The autopsy found the cause of the baby's death to have been "manual strangulation." The baby's gestational age was determined to have been 29 to 31 weeks at autopsy. This is consistent with the gestational age estimated by the ob/gyn who had suggested an adoption plan.

All told, over 13 weeks of testimony, the witnesses described three unsuccessful attempts by Waddill to strangle Mary's baby, and the fourth, successful, attempt. But during deliberations, the jury asked for clarification of a procedural point. A few phone calls to clarify the point led to the discovery by the attorneys and judge that there was a definition of "death" in the California health and safety code that the jury had not been informed of. Because the testimony hadn't directly addressed this particular definition of "death," the jurors became hopelessly deadlocked over whether Waddill's actions, though clearly causing what laymen would consider the "death" of the baby, had caused what the law would call the "death" of the baby. The judge had to delcare a mistrial. A second jury was also deadlocked, and the charges against Waddill were eventually dismissed.

Mary later sued Waddill, saying that he'd never told her that her baby might been born alive, and that she never would have consented to the abortion had she known this was possible. She said that Waddill "willfully and unlawfully used force and violence upon the person of the baby [W.] ... causing the decedent baby [W.] to die."

Waddill continued to perform abortions in California, and as of 2000 was working for National Abortion Federation member Family Planning Associates Medical Group, a chain where the following women and girls suffered fatal abortions: Deanna Bell, Chanelle Bryant, Patricia Chacon, Laniece Dorsey, Josefina Garcia, Denise Holmes, Susan Levy, Christine Mora, Kimberly Neil, Joyce Ortenzio, Mary Pena, and Tami Suematsu.


army_wife said...

ugh. I was born at 28 weeks. It's always creepy when I hear of abortions taking place that late... but then, abortion is creepy at any stage.

I can't believe the charges against the doctor were dismissed... on the other hand, abortion should be illegal anyway. No difference between killing a child while still inside the mother, and killing the same child outside the mother's body.

Tonal Bliss said...

My father grew up in Westminster. My father's family protested this doctor. It is disgusting that Waddill was allowed to remain free. Justice was certainly not served.

OperationCounterstrike said...

Off topic:

Christina likes to post about "coerced" abortions. I wonder if this would interest her:


Kathy said...

So, she should just repeatedly kill the abusive partner's baby, rather than seek help to remove herself from a violent and dangerous situation?

Tonal Bliss said...

...and you solution is to kill the innocent children that were created from such coercion, I know.

OperationCounterstrike said...

Where did you get that idea? OF COURSE she should remove herself from the violent relationship.

I just wonder whether Christina is as concerned about coerced pregnancies as she is with coerced abortions.

OperationCounterstrike said...

Whether to keep or abort the coercer's pregnancy, that should be up to the individual women.

Christina Dunigan said...

First of all, it's not "the coercer's pregnancy". Men don't get pregnant. Only the woman can be in a state of pregnancy.

Second, haven't you noticed that I often post about the crappy relationships women are in, and how abortion does nothing to help them escape those relationships? Do you think I just hate those crappy relationships -- those demeaning, soul-destroying relationships -- purely because they leave women weeping on the abortion table?

I've reported here again and again about the abuse clinics send women back into -- and THIS PLACE WAS NO DIFFERENT. They looked at the only "bad" thing -- a possible pregnancy -- and ignored the rest of the patient's situation entirely.

I've said so many times, one of the horrible things about "reproductive health clinics" is that they take a very mechanical attitude toward women. As long as there's no gestating fetus and no active disease, all is well. It's all about keeping unwanted organisms - be they viruses, bacteria, or new human beings -- everything's peachy. But not in my opinion.

We keep saying again and again that throwing contraceptives at women will NOT fix relationship problems. This story is just another way that shoving her out the door with her paper bag of birth control doesn't address her situation.

OperationCounterstrike said...

The abortion clinic's job is to do abortions. Taking care of the patient's love life, that's a job for a therapist.

Christina Dunigan said...

The abortion clinic's job is to do abortions.

Prolifers have been saying that for decades. When prochoice activists tout the counseling, information, etc., of abortion clinics, the prolifers say, "Bullshit! They exist purely to sell abortions."

Now why don't the abortion clinics and their cheerleaders start being as honest about that as you are? Admit flat out that they do NOT inform the patient. They do NOT counsel the patient. They treat the patient like they'd treat a car taken in for an oil change. (Actually, a car taken in for an oil change gets more comprehensive treatment -- they'll let you know if you need a new air filter or if a bulb is burnt out. The abortion clinic never looks past the woman's vagina.)

Kathy said...

Y'know, OC, I just had a pro-abortion person tell me that pro-abortion organizations don't just "throw abortions at the problem" (my term, which she re-used), they also "empower women." I'm going to ask her how that happens. She seems to think that that is part of the abortion network's job, while you seem to think that's totally out of their purview. One of you needs to be re-educated.

OperationCounterstrike said...

OF COURSE they counsel, and advise, just like any other medical provider. That's part of informed consent. What I mean is, it's silly to blame the abortion clinic when the patient goes back into an abusive relationship. Abortion clinics are not family-practice centers, nor are they psychotherapists, and it's silly to expect them to be so.

Try this: "I went to the ophthalmologist, and he fixed my eyes, but he didn't fix my love life!" Sounds goofy, right? Now cross out "ophthalmologist" and "fixed my eyes" and replace them with "abortion clinic" and "did my abortion". Sounds equally goofy. See?

OperationCounterstrike said...

OF COURSE they counsel, and advise, just like any other medical provider. That's part of informed consent. What I mean is, it's silly to blame the abortion clinic when the patient goes back into an abusive relationship. Abortion clinics are not family-practice centers, nor are they psychotherapists, and it's silly to expect them to be so.

Try this: "I went to the ophthalmologist, and he fixed my eyes, but he didn't fix my love life!" Sounds goofy, right? Now cross out "ophthalmologist" and "fixed my eyes" and replace them with "abortion clinic" and "did my abortion". Sounds equally goofy. See?

OperationCounterstrike said...

Do ophthalmologists exist "just in order to sell eye-surgeries"? No, they exist to do eye-surgeries for patients who need them.

Same with abortion clinics.

This is a universal paradox in medicine: you are expected to work to REDUCE demand for your services. Cardiologists tell patients how to AVOID heart disease, even though this lowers demand for the cardiologists' services. All docs do this, including abortion clinics.

If as you say abortion docs existed just to do as many abortions as possible, they wouldn't do things like measuring women for diaphragms or prescribing the pill. These things reduce demand for abortions.

Christina Dunigan said...

OC, the ophthalmologist ought to discuss the lifestyle choices that are endangering your eyes. The podiatrist ought to be educating the diabetic patient about the need for proper foot care. A family practice doctor should talk to patients about diet, exercise, smoking, etc.

IF, as abortion supporters insist, abortion is "reproductive health care", then the patient's "love life" is a VITAL part of that! Exposure to STD's. Increased risk of cervical cancer. Etc.

But they DON'T. It's "You rape 'em we scrape 'em; no fetus can beat us!"

Christina Dunigan said...

Oh -- and don't try to sell me the line about abortionists wanting to prevent abortions! I listened to the NAF meeting tape where they were lamenting that the AIDS scare had dramatically increased condom use, which was cutting unintended pregnancy, which was reducing their business. And they were all trying to come up with a way to offset that -- not by offering other services to make up for revenue shortfalls, but how to do what every BUSINESS wants to do (increase the number of customers) without the PR nightmare of coming across as indifferent to AIDS. VERY informative tape.

Ladybug said...

Would you have written transcripts of or know where I can listen online to the NAF conference tapes you've mentioned before, where they are discussing complications and the abortion providers admit to shoddy manners of handling them.

Christina Dunigan said...

Rachael, they're hard to come by. I listened to them when I worked at Life Dynamics. It used to be you could just buy them, but when people started publicizing what was going on at NAF meetings (the PBA presentation in 1992), they really clamped down on who could get into the meetings and who could get the tapes.

If a woman is killed or injured by a NAF member I'd recommend the attorney try to get tapes of any NAF events the member attended and see if he said anything damning, or if they discussed anything that can then be used in trial.