Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Victim-Blaming and Planned Parenthood Cover-Up in Offical Documents on Cree Erwin Death

Kudos to activist Lynn Mills for getting hold of Cree Erwin-Shephard's autopsy report, and to Operation Rescue for sharing it. Shame on the Calhoun County, MI Medical Examiner's office for how they redacted the autopsy. Shame on Dr. Elizabeth Douglass, the medical examiner, for how she blamed the victim when completing the death certificate.It's hard to find a more telling case of victim-blaming and of a political cover-up.

A smiling young Black woman with long, straightened hair, wearing a brightly-colored sweater
Cree Erwin-Shephard
It's also hard to argue that the redaction on the autopsy was in the interests of preserving Cree's privacy. Descriptions of Cree's underwear, breasts, and genitals were not redacted. The presence of methadone in her system was not redacted. Details of the injuries that led to her death, however, are very heavily redacted.

Other documents relating to Cree's death make it clear that she had an abortion at Planned Parenthood and suffered her injuries there during that abortion. The police report redacts Cree's mother's name but doesn't redact the information about Cree's abortion. The final death certificate notes that Cree had a recent vacuum aspiration.* Although noting that she was indeed injured during a combination abortion/IUD insertion, the death certificate claims that the date of her injury is "unknown." This is false -- the police report notes the date of the abortion. The place of injury is listed as "unknown," even though the fact that it was done at a Planned Parenthood was easy enough for Lynn Mills to discover. "How Injury Occurred" is given as "use of unprescribed medications," blaming Cree for her own death even though elsewhere the cause of death is clearly a uterine perforation.

To summarize:

  • Medical examiner Elizabeth Douglas victim-blamed on Cree's death certificate. Despite noting the injury to Cree's uterus, the ultimate blame for her death is placed on the injured woman and her "Use of unprescribed medications."
  • Medical examiner Elizabeth Douglass covered up for Planned Parenthood on Cree's death certificate. Despite an abundance of evidence available to the general public that Cree's injuries took place during treatment at the Kalamazoo Planned Parenthood, the death certificate claims that the date and location of Cree's injury are unknown or undetermined.
  • The redaction on Cree's autopsy report shows that the motive for redaction can't have been Cree's privacy, since descriptions of her underwear, breasts, and genitals were not redacted.
  • The redaction on Cree's autopsy report shows victim-blaming in that the presence of drugs in her system was not redacted.
  • The redaction on Cree's autopsy report covers up for Planned Parenthood by hiding the extent and nature of the injuries Cree suffered during the procedures performed there.
It's interesting to me that this victim-blaming and Planned Parenthood protection are happening during a period of public and political debate over whether Planned Parenthood deserves continued taxpayer funding.

*Note how the ME carefully avoids using the word "abortion," which would alert public health officials and thus risk Cree's death being counted as an abortion death, instead attributing her death to "complications of intrauterine pregnancy," thus placing the blame on the pregnancy and adding to the "childbirth deaths" statistics.

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