Monday, February 07, 2011

Return of the Back Alley? It's never been gone.

Return of the back alley:

If the famous pro-choice litany is "safe, legal and rare," the logical endpoint of a culture of abortion on demand is none of the above.

Legal abortion was supposed to end "back-alley abortions," both their dangers and their entanglements with shady characters. But the practice and the mores of the back alley are with us still, tolerated by people for whom the ready provision of abortion trumps all else.

Pro-choicers have long invoked the dignity of women. The nightmarish case of the Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell and the sting video of a counselor at a Planned Parenthood clinic cooperating with a supposed pimp show the dignity of women is decidedly secondary.

Though Kermit Gosnell's filthy mill and Planned Parenthood's cavalier attitude toward child sexual abuse are getting press, it's really a case of the media being very late to a party that's been going on since the first states loosened their abortion laws -- or started being willing to ignore them -- in the era just prior to Roe.

I'll just share a few choice examples, as it were.

  • 2005: Christin Gilbert, a 19-year-old mentally disabled rape victim, died of multiple organ failure near the end of a multi-day abortion procedure. When medics arrived, the doctor was performing CPR so ineptly that they thought he was a bystander. A typical late abortion at that facility took several days, with patients spending the bulk of their time in a motel room with their own chosen companions, before returning to the clinic on the final day to deliver their dead babies into a basement toilet.

    Tamiia Russell
  • 2004: Tamiia Russell, age 15, was hauled from one Detroit-area clinic to the other until an abortionist was found who would overlook how far advanced her pregnancy was and that she had no parental consent. After the abortion had been started, staff at the National Abortion Federation member clinic lied to Tamiia's mother, who had learned about the abortion and agreed with her daughter's wish to stop it. After the unwanted abortion, Tamiia bled heavily, but her mother was discouraged from taking her for care until it was too later to save the girl. Clinic owner Alberto Hodari was also implicated in the deaths of Chivon Williams and Regina Johnson.

  • 2002: Diana Lopez, age 25, bled to death after an abortion at a Planned Parenthood. Diana‘s husband, David, filed suit, alleging that the abortionist‘s haste caused severe lacerations that killed his wife. The suit says that Diana‘s abortion was rushed through in ony six minutes, although Planned Parenthood‘s own web site says such a procedure should take 10 to 20 minutes. The medical board took no action against Diana‘s abortionist, though the California Department of Health Services investigated the facility and cited Planned Parenthood for shortcomings including poor record keeping and failure to report the death.

  • 1996: Sharon Hamplton bled to death, her toddler in her arms, in the back seat of her mother's car on the drive home from her abortion. She had been pushed out to her mother's car in a wheelchair from a dismal clinic where women lay bleeding and vomiting on recliners in the recovery room. Her doctor, an attendee at National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminars, had left her in the care of his staff so he could rush to the airport. Steir was already on probation with the medical board at the time of Sharon's abortion; he had a history of botching abortions, including causing uterine perforations. He'd been found negligent in six abortion cases, including three in which the woman had to undergo a hysterectomy. One woman had to have a fetal skull removed from a tear in her uterus. Steir surrendered his licence in 1997, in the wake of the fallout surrounding Sharon's death. Pro-choice organizations, including the national leadership of NOW, and the National Abortion Federation and the California Abortion and Reproduction Rights League, rallied around Steir. One supporter stood outside the courthouse with a sign reading, "Abortion doctors are heroes, defend Dr. Bruce Steir." The Feminist Women's Health Center in Chico, with whom he once was affiliated, set up a "defense committee" and raised funds for his legal expenses. Joseph Durante, who owned the facility, was also on probation with the medical board at the time of Sharon's fatal abortion. He had attempted a late abortion which resulted in the birth of a live but injured infant.

  • 1994: Jammie Garcia, age 14, died a horrible, lingering death after her fetus was shoved through the back of her uterus during an abortion in a clinic owned by Moshe Hachamovitch. An inspection after Jammie's death found that the staff were inadequately trained in how to properly sterilize instruments. The administrator, Kristen Hing Fehr, was evidently aware of the fact that the autoclave used to sterilize instruments was not functioning properly. As for the instruments themselves, "two loop forceps, two tenaculums and one curette were found to have small particles of dried brownish-dark red material on them. Three speculums were found to have small particles of dried clear material on them." "The only sterilized abortion tray in the procedure room was found to contain a curette with a loop whose edge was visibly jagged instead of smooth." Other deaths under Hachamovitch's care or in his clinics include Tanya Williamson, who was inadequately monitored in recovery, Christina Goesswein, who was brought to his office at 4 a.m. to treat grave complications, and Lisa Bardsley, Luz Rodriguez, and Lou Anne Herron, who bled to death.

  • 1993: Guadalupe Negron, a 33-year-old mother of four, was found unresponsive after being left unattended in recovery for over an hour. When paramedics arrived, they found Guadalupe naked and bloody, with a nurse screaming and trying to revive her in a small, unventilated room with an inadequate oxygen tank and no necessary equipment such as a blood pressure cuff. They also noted that Benjamin had inserted a breathing tube into Guadalupe's stomach instead of her trachea, causing stomach fluids to travel up the tube, into her mouth, and down into her lungs. Benjamin was indicted for second degree murder due to "depraved indifference to human life." One of the paramedics told a reporter, "I wouldn't take my dog there (Benjamin's clinic)." New York newspapers covering Benjamin's murder trial discovered that he had a long history of malpractice and had changed his name from Elias Bonrouhi to David Benjamin in order to cover up his record.

  • 1990: Sophie McCoy, age 17, died of sepsis after an abortion performed by National Abortion Federation member Abu "The Butcher of Avenue A" Hayat. The doctors who had tried to save Sophie's life reported Hayat. The case was reported to the district attorney and the New York Health Department, but nobody took any action against Hayat until he pulled the arm off an infant during an abortion attempt in 1991. That baby's mother described Hayat's practice as a filthy mill, with dirty instruments and screaming patients.

  • 1989: Debra Gray died of anesthesia complications in a seedy Maryland abortion mill whose owner, Barbara Lofton, passed herself off as a doctor. Another woman, Suzanne Logan, was left permanently incapacitated and later died of lingering complications. When 60 Minutes did a story on Hillview, with the reporter noting, "I found that many pro-choice leaders knew about problems at Hillview, but didn't want them publicized. National Abortion Federation head Barbara Radford admitted she was just hoping we would go away." Radford herself said, "We want to make sure that women have choices when it comes to abortion service and if you regulate it too strictly, you then deny women the access to service." Maryland State Senator Mary Boerger said, "There's only so much of a willingness to try to push a group like the pro-choice movement to do what I think is the responsible thing to do because they then treat you as if you're the enemy."

  • 1988: KB, age 19, was charted as "pink, alert, responsive" as she died in 1988 from an overdose of anesthesia in a seedy New York abortion mill. 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.

  • 1987: Belinda Byrd, 37, died after five-minute abortion. Belinda was one of 74 women who had abortions in Inglewood's single operating room that day, and one of 24 whose abortions were performed in the final two hours of the day. Other women known to have died after abortions at the Inglewood facility include Kathy Murphy, Cora Lewis,Lynette Wallace, and Elizabeth Tsuji. In the wake of the series of abortion deaths at Inglewood, the authorities inspected the place. Among other things, they caught an abortionist writing post-operative examination notes without even examining the patients. When the state closed Inglewood for numerous violations, the facility simply re-opened as Inglewood Women's Clinic; as a clinic rather than a hospital they were no longer subject to the same intense scrutiny and were able to remain in business.

  • 1986: Gloria Aponte, age 20, died under the care of a NAF member abortionist who allowed his receptionist to administer general anesthesia.

  • 1984: Mickey Apodaca, a 28-year-old mother of four, bled to death in Raymond Showery's seedy El Paso abortion hospital -- while Showery was out on bail pending appeal of his conviction for murdering a baby born alive during an abortion. Former employees reported that Showery falsified records on all patients over 20 weeks pregnant, saying they were just 20 weeks pregnant, and that such abortions were routine. A former employee said the fetuses would be put in plastic bags and frozen, that employees did not know what became them but that someone removed them from the freezer. Showery was held pending $1 million dollars bail while awaiting trial for manslaughter in Mickey's death. While he was in prison, local pro-choicers rallied outside with signs asserting that Showery was "a good man" and that he "helps the poor."

  • 1980: Betty Damato died of massive infection after her abortionist sent her home with most of her dead baby still in her uterus.

  • 1977: Barbaralee Davis, age 18, called a local women's group for a safe and legal abortion referral. They sent her to a member of the newly founded National Abortion Federation, Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois. Barbaralee attended a post-abortion counseling session, during which she was pale and reporting lower abdominal cramping. She was kept for observation an additional two hours, but they discharged her even though she was still showing symptoms "suggestive of internal hemorrhage." Her sister helped her, pale and bleeding, to the car. Barbaralee slept in the back seat the whole way home, approximately a two-hour trip. When she was found unresponsive later, she was rushed to a hospital, where she died in spite of emergency surgery. The autopsy found the face and spinal column of Barbaralee's baby embedded in a hole in her uterus.

  • 1974: Wilma Harris, age 17, died after an abortion by prochoice icon Milan Vuitch. Although the abortion was done at around 2:00 PM, Vuitch didn't trasfer Wilma to a properly equipped hospital until after midnight. Georgianna English also died after an abortion at Vuitch's hands. When Vuitch was investigated, it was discovered that he kept patients overnight in his home (an unlicensed facility) which he designated "The Annexe." Inspectors also noted repeated violations of medical standards regarding sanitation and anesthesia. Vuitch also admitted during another case that he had lacked hospital admitting privileges since 1963. Vuitch was a former criminal abortionist who had openly performed abortions in order to provoke an arrest and challenge the law.

  • 1971: Margaret Louise Smith traveled from Michigan to New York, to where erstwhile criminal abortionist Jesse Ketchum had set up a legal abortion practice. Ketchum performed a hysterotomy abortion -- basically a c-section with the intention of delivering a dead baby rather than a live one -- in his office, whereupon he left Margaret alone to bleed to death. Remarkably, Ketchum was charged with criminally negligent homicide in Margaret's death, but was allowed to remain at large and in practice. Before his case went to trial, he performed a similar abortion on Carole Schaner of Ohio. Carol suffered similar injuries had bled to death in her motel room after Ketchum discharged her.
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