Saturday, March 05, 2011

1985: A Precursor to Kermit Gosnell

"Don't go out and put yourself in the hands of quacks, dear. There are plenty of places that don't care about women like we do."
Betty Eason

Chatoor Bisal Singh did an abortion on Ellen Lorena Williams On March 2, 1985. On March 4, Ellen returned, doubled over and rocking back and forth in pain. Betty Eason gave her some tea, then called Singh, who arrived four hours later. Singh examined Ellen, then turned her over to Nabil Ghali, who performed a second D&C and sent Ellen home with a bottle of antibiotics. On March 5, Ellen was rushed by ambulance to Coral Reef Hospital, where she was rushed into surgery. She died in the intensive care unit on March 6. The autopsy revealed that she had uterine and bowel perforations, causing the peritonitis that killed her.

Singh told the Miami Herald that he didn't usually work at Dadeland, but was "strapped for cash" and agreed to fill in forRobert Kast while he was away. Singh described himself as "not an abortionist, just an honest, easygoing guy looking for something temporary. After Ellen's death, Singh quit working at Dadeland, saying, "It was a bad month." It certainly was: the same day he'd performed the first abortion on Ellen Williams, Singh also did an abortion on a woman identified as "Patricia W.," who afterward hemorrhaged and passed a portion of her fetus, which Singh had failed to remove. When she returned with it to the clinic, staff told her it was "a blood clot," but a hospital later verified that it was a 16-week fetal head.

Ellen and Patricia weren't the first women to have botched abortions at Dadeland. Nor where they the last. Dadeland's problems went back at least as early as 1981, and they continued long after Ellen Williams was dead and buried. And they had plenty of political and professional complicity.

William Saletan did a multi-part series for Slate that is amazingly thorough and even-handed, looking at the Dadeland fiasco and how it allowed seedy, dangerous abortion mills to thrive: What Happened to the Women ("A grand jury says Kermit Gosnell mistreated and killed abortion patients. Why did nobody stop him?"), The Abortion Industry (The hidden factions of the abortion trade: feminists, doctors, and entrepreneurs.), The Sisterhood of Silence (A bad abortion clinic, a dead woman, and a wall of pro-choice denial.), The Sunshine State (What reporters and health inspectors found in Florida's worst abortion clinics.), "Leave Well Enough Alone" (How pro-choicers won a political victory by ignoring bad medicine.), Fighting the Gestapo (Why good abortion providers refused to cooperate with Florida health inspectors.), Choosing Sides (The abortion clinic debate that tore apart Florida's pro-choice coalition.), and most recently, The Next Gosnell (Reckless rogue abortionists and what we can learn from them.)

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