Friday, September 16, 2016

Strange and Sad, 1941 - 1999

A Blind Abortionist: New York, 1941

One of the few cases I've found in which a criminal abortionist wasn't a doctor is also one of the strangest cases I've found. The abortionist, Sarah Howe, age 57, had been blind since she was three years old. Authorities had been aware that Howe was an abortionist, and had struggled for 25 years to get enough evidence to actually win a conviction once 23-year-old Helen Clark took ill. Helen had undergone the abortion at Howe's hands on September 6, 1941. Helen took ill. On September 14, Helen identified Howe as the person who had perpetrated her abortion. Two days later, September 16, Helen died.

Howe was charged with abortion and with manslaughter in Helen's death. The jury deliberated for seven hours before finding Howe guilty of abortion but not of manslaughter. She could have saved everybody, including a lot of trouble, had she just gone with the plea bargain initially offered to her: guilty on the abortion with the manslaughter charge dropped.

"Now I have a chance to go right and to make myself right in the eyes of God," Howe said after hearing the verdict. "I will never again return to that practice."

She was sentenced to two to four years in prison.

A Second Chance: New York, 1994

Dr. David Gluck's medical license had been revoked for three years after selling controlled substances to finance his gambling addiction. Two months later he was still working as Medical Director at Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (C.R.A.S.H.) when abortion patient "K.B." died in 1988.Authorities who inspected the clinic after K.B's death found the place filthy, and noted that K.B.'s post-operative report charted her as "pink, responsive, alert," even though she had gone into full cardio-respiratory arrest during the procedure. Authorities shut the place down, leaving the unlicensed Gluck unemployed.

He found work, though, at Choices Women's Medical Center in Queens. The Choices clinic director said "We are firmly committed to helping people who are skilled medical professionals who have had a fall from grace."

Their kindness to Gluck was not a kindness to 36-year-old Alerte Desanges, an immigrant from Haiti.  Told that her 19-week fetus had deformities, Alerte went to Choices for a safe, legal abortion on September 16, 1994. She didn't survive the day.

Staff said that after Gluck had completed her abortion, Alerte was "feisty, telling nurses she wanted to go home. Then all of a sudden, she coded, she went into cardiac arrest." Her blood pressure fell. Staff attempted to revive her, then transported her to a hospital. Her death was tentatively attributed to amniotic fluid embolism by staff.

An Infant Left Motherless: Delaware, 1997

Gracealynn "Tammy" Harris was 19 years old when she underwent an abortion by Dr. Mohammad Imran at Delaware Women's Health Organization on September 16, 1997. She was 18 weeks pregnant. After the procedure, Tammy was weak, and needed a wheelchair to leave the facility. Reports indicate that Tammy also may have had a seizure in front of the clinic nurses. She died that day.

Tammy's family filed suit against Imran and the clinic.

Imran's attorney said that Tammy's death was the clinic's fault. He said that the clinic staff did not monitor Tammy's vital signs, and did not inform him of her condition. The family's lawyer faulted Imran with leaving the clinic to go to another facility before Tammy was stable.

The lawsuit resulted in $2,252,000 to Tammy's family. The money was put into a court-controlled account for Tammy's son, who was nine months old when his mother died. Imran's insurance company was defunct, so he had to settle again with Tammy's family. He was last known to be practicing medicine, including obstetrics, in New Jersey.

A Lingering Death: New York, 1993-1998

A suit was filed on behalf of Venus Ortiz, age 23, against National Abortion Federation member Eastern Women's Center. Evidence indicated that the abortion of Venus' approximately 15-week pregnancy was performed by a Dr. Leiber. The abortion took place at Eastern February 24, 1993.

The suit alleged that there was negligence in administering anesthesia to Venus, and failure to establish an airway. Brevital, fentanyl, and midazolam were administered in dosages and manners contrary to standards of practice, causing Venus to suffer a synergistic reaction.

Eastern's staff failed to promptly diagnose and attend to cardio-pulmonary arrest. Eastern's notes of 5:35 PM indicate "2:35 PM end of surgery ... we noticed patient's ashen color and the pulse oximeter tracing and digital readout were gone from the monitor." Emergency medical services were called. The reading of Venus' blood pressure at that time was 90/55; four minutes later it was recorded as being 146/62.Venus was transported by ambulance to a hospital, accompanied by Dr. Cyrus, Dr. Goodman, and/or Dr. Jeffrey P. Moskowitz. However, the damage had already been done. Venus was left in permanent need of respirator, with profound brain damage. Venus was hospitalized a little over five months before being transferred to permanent nursing home care.

Venus remained in a permanent vegetative state for the remainder of her life. She died in a Staten Island nursing home on December 16, 1998 at the age of 29. Two other patients, Dawn Ravenelle and Dawn Mack, also died of complications of abortions done at Eastern Women's Center.

Other women who suffered severe brain injuries and died years later from those abortion complications include Suzanne Logan, who languished, mute and paralyzed, for three years until her death on December 1, 1992, and Christi Stile, who spent nearly 22 years in a vegetative state until her death on March 29, 2015.

Languishing for Two Decades: Illinois, 1978 - 1999

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Shelby  Moran, then a 39-year-old mother of five, alleged that she was given Prostaglandin F2 Alpha for a safe, legal abortion at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in January of 1978. She was about four months pregnant. Immediately after the drug was injected, Shelby experienced grossly abnormal elevation of her blood pressure. The abortionist, Dr. John J. Barton, thought that the elevation would be transient, and left the facility.

Half an hour later, Shelby went into cardiopulmonary arrest. She suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen, causing dementia and speech aphasia. Shelby was no longer able to care for herself, much less her five children.  Her family was awarded $9.5 million on her behalf. She required 24-hour care in a nursing home until her death at Hazel Crest on September 16, 1999.

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