Saturday, September 12, 2020

September 12: Abortion Pill Screw-Up Kills Chattanooga Woman

Brenda Vise, a 38-year-old pharmaceutical representative, died on September 12, 2001, of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy after what she believed would be a perfectly safe, legal abortion at Volunteer Women's Clinic in Tennessee. 

Despite having been shut down by the state, VMC continued to do business and to advertise in the yellow pages for abortions, including chemical abortions. 

On Friday, September 7, VMC staff did a pregnancy test and did an ultrasound which showed no fetus in the uterus -- a clear sign of a likely ectopic pregnancy. Instead of performing further tests, the staff just told Brenda that the fetus was "too small to be seen" and gave her a dose of Mifeprex for a chemical abortion. Brenda was then sent home from the facility with a dose Cytotec that she was to self-administer to complete her abortion. No arrangements were made for a follow-up examination. 

Over the ensuing days, Brenda called VMC repeatedly to report problems upon returning home.  "Instead of advising Ms. Vise to immediately proceed to a doctor, the Clinic continually assured her that all of these were normal symptoms and that she was not to be concerned."

When she called on Monday, September 10, indicating her deteriorating condition, she was told that her symptoms were "to be expected," and was told to travel to VMC, in Knoxville, for a check-up at 3:30 p.m. "She was specifically directed not to go to a hospital in Chattanooga because, according to the Clinic, no hospital in Chattanooga would have knowledge about the drugs that had been administered." 

Brenda's boyfriend tried to take her to Knoxville, "but was unable to do so" and called an ambulance, which rushed Brenda to a Chattanooga hospital. "Ms. Vise was immediately admitted to the hospital in very critical condition. Exploratory surgery revealed that Ms. Vise had had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy which had ruptured. Such rupture led to massive infection and a collapse of her vital systems." 

"On September 12, 2001, the attending physician certified that Ms. Vise was terminal with no reasonable medical prospect of recovery and was in a coma and totally unresponsive. Ms. Vise died later that day."

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