Sunday, June 19, 2022

June 19, 1984: Teen Daughter Found Dead on the Floor

After awakening from a nap on June 19, 1984, 14-year-old "Gwen Newhart's"* mother found her dead on the bathroom floor.

Dr. E. Wyman Garrett
Just five days before, Gwen had undergone a second-trimester abortion performed by 46-year-old Dr. E. Wyman Garrett** in Newark, New Jersey. She was 22 weeks pregnant.

At home after her abortion, Gwen began vomiting and suffered from abdominal pain and a high fever. Her mother called Garrett, who told her that the symptoms were normal and prescribed antibiotics. She seemed to improve briefly, but took a turn for the worse on June 18.

Gwen's mother called the next morning and Garrett said to bring Gwen in to the office. Mrs. Newhart took a nap and awoke to find her daughter dead on the bathroom floor.

The massive infection that was causing her symptoms killed her.

An autopsy found that Gwen's uterus had been punctured, and her abdomen was full of pus and adhesions.

When the New Jersey medical board investigated Dr. Garrett, they noted that he had illegally altered Gwen's medical records. He had also performed Gwen's abortion in violation of state regulations, since New Jersey required that abortions past the first trimester be performed in a hospital.

They noted other, non-fatal injuries including:

  • A 16-year-old girl who had to be hospitalized with a 1-inch tear in her uterus and a pelvic infection from a second-trimester abortion Garrett performed in his office rather than a hospital
  • A baby boy born alive at University Hospital in Newark after Garrett had initiated a saline abortion; the baby died 15 weeks later.
  • A baby girl who suffered birth injuries leaving her severely brain damaged after Garrett failed to diagnose intrauterine growth retardation
  • A woman who was discharged from the clinic with a fetal head left in her uterus

Garrett argued that he was suffering from ''burnout syndrome,'' caused by performing more than 2,600 second-trimester abortions between 1982 and 1986. He asserted, "If any man has this much work, he's going to have complications." He pleaded no-contest in the state case.

In 1986 the board concluded that Garrett was guilty of gross negligence, abandonment of patients, and professional misconduct. He failed to recognize and treat complications in a timely manner, they found. banned Garrett from performing abortions or other outpatient surgery. In 1987 they revoked his license. They cited a total of 26 abortions performed in a "grossly improper" manner. As of 1994 he still owed over $175,000 in fines and court costs from the medical board suspension proceedings.

Garrett had other unsavory run-ins with society. In 1971, during a teacher strike, Garrett (who was then a school board member) told a school trustee "We know where you live. We're going to get you." He then turned to a reporter who was taking notes and said, "You'll have to give me your notebook or you won't get out of this building alive." Garrett then, according to the reporter, summoned two men to beat the reporter up and take his notebook and wallet. Two weeks into the trial Garrett plea-bargained down to interfering with people at a public meeting and paid $2,000 in fines and costs. 

In 1983 he started refusing to do second-trimester abortions at University Hospital in Newark because they would no longer pay him $250 to $300 per abortion instead of the Medicaid physician fee of $79. (In 2022 dollars, he had been getting $734 - $880 per abortion when the Medicaid fee was $232.) Garrett publicly said that since the hospital was reimbursed $1,334 ($3,915 in 2022 dollars) per abortion and he performed 851 abortion there in the previous year, he'd brought the hospital more than $1.2 million in Medicaid dollars (about $3.5 in 2022 dollars). Garrett argued that he was entitled to more than $79 because his usual abortion fee was from $400 to $900 ($1,174 - $2,641 in 2022 dollars). 

In 1986 a whistleblower claimed that she discovered that Garret was preparing post-operative reports prior to surgery he was performing at University Hospital.

*Source failed to redact name in original, but out of privacy respect I use a pseudonym. 

** "John Roe 268" in Lime 5

Watch "Stopped Before He Could Kill Another Patient" on YouTube.


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