Thursday, January 31, 2013

40 Years, 40 Faces of Choice (1983-1992)

1983: Dr. Judith Comeau-Samuel

Comeau-Samuel and her husband, Dr. Maxen Samuel, ran a scam in New York. She and her husband would charge $75 for a pregnancy test. They would then tell the patient she was pregnant, then offer to apply the $75 pregnancy test fee toward the cost of an abortion. The women would be put under general anesthesia and instruments introduced into their wombs to cause pain and bleeding that would simulate an abortion having been performed. Authorities estimated that 25% of the abortions performed at Comeau-Samuel's facilities were done on non-pregnant women. Comeau-Samuel admitted to practices endangering the health of patients at her abortion clinics, but claimed that she had only done so because she was dominated by her husband and manipulated by him via voodoo. Now 61 years old and  practicing in Philadelphia under the name Judith Prophete, Comeau-Samuel carefully avoids positing photographs online.

1984: The Silent Scream

In 1984, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, released a short film, The Silent Scream, that incorporated footage of an actual 10-week abortion recorded on ultrasound as it was being performed. Nathanson, whose own conversion from passionate activist for legalization of abortion to abortion opponent was sparked in large part by ultrasound images of the unborn children he was about to abort, reported that the doctor who performed the abortion filmed for The Silent Screen hung up his canula and swore never to perform another abortion after seeing the ultrasound footage. It was such an image on ultrasound that caused Planned Parenthood clinic manager Abby Johnson to convert to the pro life cause as well.

1985: Benjamin Munson

Munson had been a criminal abortionist for years in South Dakota prior to legalization. He wasted no time hanging his shingle out on Main Street when Roe vs. Wade came down and promptly killed abortion patient Linda Padfield by sending her home with around half of her dead fetus rotting inside her. For an encore, in 1987 he did the same thing to teenage abortion patient Yvonne Mesteth. Between Linda's death and Yvonne's, Munson was welcomed into the National Abortion Federation, purported protectors of women's safety. Munson wasn't the only "back-alley butcher" turned "provider of vital reproductive health care" to go from a clean pre-legalization record to killing two patients after legalization. Milan Vuitch killed Georgianna English and Wilma Harris, and Jesse Ketchum killed Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner.

1987 Belinda Byrd

In 1987, 37-year-old Belinda Ann Byrd bled to death after an abortion at Inglewood Women's Hospital in Los Angeles. She 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. In the wake of the series of 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. Other women known to have died after abortions at the Inglewood facility include Kathy Murphy, Cora Lewis,Lynette Wallace, and Elizabeth Tsuji.

1988: David Gluck

After the 1988 death of abortion patient K.B. at the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (CRASH), the health department investigated and found a mystery: K'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. No one on staff was qualified to perform CPR or to administer anesthesia. Anesthesia was administered "by eye" rather than measured, and was estimated to be twice that recommended in the procedure manual. The operating rooms were ill-lit, with no soap or paper towels at the scrub sink. 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. CRASH had no documentation verifying the credentials or qualifications of medical director David Gluck, who 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 K.B.'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. Gluck went on to perform the fatal abortion on Alerte Desanges in 1994.

1989: Marla Anne Cardamone

"The last two weeks of her life, all she did was cry," said Deborah Cardamone, whose daughter Marla died from a botched abortion at the prestigious Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh. Marla had planned for adoption, but a medical-social worker at the hospital badgered Marla, telling her that her baby would be too disabled to be adopted because of  medications Marla had been taking, and that caring for a disabled child would detract from Marla's ability to care for her young son and her paraplegic father. Marla caved under the pressure, and the botched abortion caused massive infection. Marla became increasingly ill during the night, with nausea, vomiting, urinary incontinence, disorientation, and seizures before finally dying. Marla's mother, who recently released her daughter's autopsy photos, has never stopped trying to call attention to deaths from purportedly safe legal abortions: I've often wondered why pro-choice women's groups have never expressed any sympathy or concern over Marla's death. Why aren't they demanding justice? Why aren't they concerned that Marla was lied to about the condition of her baby and wasn't shown the sonogram results? Why aren't they concerned that proper treatment was delayed because Marla was misdiagnosed by a resident who was only two months out of medical school? Why are they so quiet? I believe it's because pro-choice groups don't want women to read or hear about abortion injuries and deaths. Bad publicity hurts their cause. That's why they prefer that Marla and her baby remain hidden statistics.

1990 Moshe Hachamovitch

In 1990, Christina Goesswein was referred to Hachamovitch for an abortion. When she suffered serious complications, he had her meet him at his office in the middle of the night rather than admit her to the hospital. The New York medical board slapped him down for his grotesque mismanagement of Christina's care. Hachamovitch, originally licensed in New York in 1966, was a 1960 graduate of Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University Of Jerusalem. His Arizona license was revoked in 2004 for unprofessional conduct (gross negligence, knowingly making false/fraudulent statements to the board, and failing/refusing to maintain adequate records). Six abortion patients are known to have died either under Hachamovitch's direct care or under the care of an employe at one of his clinics: Tanya Williamson was inadequately monitored in recovery and allowed to lapse into respiratory arrest; Luz Rodriguez, who was allowed to bleed to death in 1986; Jammie Garcia, who died a horrible death after her safe, legal abortion at one of Hachamovitch's facilities in Texas; Lisa Bardsley, who bled to death on the way home from her safe, legal abortion at one of Hachamovitch's facilities in Arizona; and Lou Anne Herron, whose pleas for help went unheeded as she bled to death in Hachamovitch's Arizona abortion clinic. For understandable reasons, Hachamovitch guards his identity; I've been utterly unable to find a single photograph of him online, in spite of scores of physician profiles.

1991 Ana Rosa Rodriguez

Rosa Rodriguez went to National Abortion Federation member Abu "The Butcher of Avenue A" Hayat for what she thought was going to be a mid-second-trimester abortion in 1991. Hayat clearly knew that Rosa's pregnancy was more advanced than she thought, because he used a technique typical for abortions after 20 weeks -- performing some sort of injection into the uterus to stop the fetal heart so that on the following day the dead baby's body will be easier to dismember and remove. Rosa changed her mind overnight but when she returned asking Hayat to remove the cervical dilators, he told her that it was too late to change her mind. He had staff hold her down and he began the abortion. However, after removing the right arm, Hayat realized that the fetus wasn't dead. He sent Rosa home with instructions to return the following day. That night she went into labor. Her mother brought her to a hospital where she gave birth to her maimed baby, Ana Rosa. When Rosa went public with her story, all hell broke loose and it was revealed that Hayat had a history of botching abortions and sexually abusing patients. He had also killed a teenage abortion patient, Sophie McCoy, the year before. Hayat was prosecuted for the illegal abortion and sentenced to prison.

1992 Gideo Kioko

In 1992, shortly after winning her malpractice suit against Gideon Kioko, Suzanne Logan died in a Maryland nursing home where she had lived, mute and paralyzed, since Kioko had allowed her to stop breathing during an abortion in 1989. EMS personnel who had responded to a belated call for help noted that the Hillview employees seemed "very confused and did not seem to know what they were doing." EMS staff also noted that Hillview staff had put an oxygen mask on Suzanne upside-down, so that she wasn't getting any oxygen. Kioko blamed Suzanne's injury, and the similar fatal injury of another abortion patient, Debra Gray, on clinic management. The medical board had none of it, noting that Kioko "performed surgical procedures under conditions that failed to meet appropriate standards for the delivery of quality medical and surgical care. .... In the event that [Kioko} was unable to correct these conditions, the appropriate standard of care required that [he] not perform these procedures at this facility until these conditions were so corrected."

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