Sunday, November 13, 2022

Lime 5: Misdiagnosis of Fetal Age

Back in 2015 I wrote a post summarizing why legal abortions must have a cutoff of no later than 20 weeks in order to prevent good-faith attempts to abort babies that later turned out to be viable. I cited an article that addresses errors in estimating gestational age: "The accuracy of ultrasound in predicting gestational age gets worse as the pregnancy advances. By 20 weeks, ultrasound is accurate only to within plus or minus two weeks, and by the third trimester, its accuracy falls to plus or minus 3 weeks."

Ultrasound is the most common method of estimating gestational age in abortion practice. Many women are going in for late abortions because they'd lost track of their cycles and weren't sure they were pregnant at all, so the LNMP method of dating is lost with these women. The doctors are having to rely almost entirely on ultrasound.

Whether doctors are using ultrasound or not, they can often be off by far more than three weeks. These cases from Lime 5 note some gross underestimates of fetal age.

Cecelia was 14 years old when she went to Dr. Joseph Rucker (John Roe 674) to undergo an abortion on January 26, 1977. Rucker estimated that Cecelia was 14 weeks pregnant. He stopped the procedure when Cecelia started to hemorrhage and sent her to Sinai Hospital in a private car. A doctor there examined her and determined that she was actually 7 months pregnant. She was released from the hospital and returned on February 1. Two days later she gave birth to a 2 lb. 11 oz. baby girl with a two-inch piece of her scalp missing. Rucker was charged with performing an illegal abortion but he asserted that he hadn't actually performed an abortion and as such was in the clear. The infant suffered additional injuries; in news coverage of the charges against Rucker, Cecelia told the Detroit Free Press, "She's going blind in one eye and I have to take her for therapy once a week on her leg." ("Doctor thumbs his nose at the medical board," Detroit Free PressNovember 14, 1982; "The case against Dr. Rucker: A study in delays," Detroit Free Press, November 14, 1982)

"Robin," age 17, went to Dr. Don Jaffe (John Roe 161) at Bill Baird Center in Massachusetts for an abortion in 1980. He thought she was 11 or 12 weeks pregnant and started using a first-trimester abortion technique. Once he started he realized that the baby was bigger than he'd originally thought -- perhaps 15 or 16 weeks of gestation. He struggled for over an hour to perform the abortion, lacerating Robin's cervix and perforating her uterus and bladder. Finally he sent her to the hospital in a taxi. There she had to have major surgery to save her life and was hospitalized for a month. Her baby had actually been 19 to 21 weeks in gestational age. (Suffolk, MA Superior Court Civil Action No. 47117)

Our source for "Alexandra's" case was California Board of Medical Quality Assurance Case No. D-3132 L-31034, therefore I can't provide the doctor's name or a clipping. Roe told Alexandra that she was 24 weeks pregnant. He tried to grab the head but when he couldn't grasp it he sent Alexandra to a hospital. There she delivered a 4 1/2 pound stillborn infant of about 34 weeks gestation.

Once again I don't have an abortionist's name or a clipping because our source was a court case: Multnomah County (OR) Circuit Court Case No. A 8605 03177. "Darla" was told that she was 16 weeks pregnant. Erma Roe 401 tried twice to abort Darla's baby with forceps and suction before finally giving up and sending Darla to the hospital. There, she gave birth to a little girl she named "Brandi." Brandi was of about 29 or 30 weeks gestational age and was bruised and lacerated from the abortion attempt. She spent 5 1/2 weeks in the hospital.

"Jane" was 16 years old when she went to Harold Ticktin (John Roe 821) at All Women's Heath Center of North Tampa for an abortion in 1986. Ticktin was part-owner of the facility. Ticktin said that although Jane was slender, she was so tense that it was difficult for him to accurately determine gestational age. He decided that she was 12 weeks pregnant and started the abortion. He pulled off the baby's arm and realized that she was much further advanced than he'd thought. He delayed for seven hours before sending her to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where she underwent an emergency hysterectomy. Her baby, dead due to the dismemberment injury, had actually been 28 weeks -- seven months -- of gestational age. One medical board representative said "No experienced gynecologist should ... err on the magnitude here involved." By doing a third trimester abortion without getting confirmation from two other doctors that the abortion would save or preserve Jane's life, Ticktin had also broken state law. According to reports Ticktin filed with the state, he had performed more than 15,000 abortions, with fewer than five leading to emergencies requiring hospitalization, a claim I have a hard time believing given his inability to distinguish between a 12 week fetus and a 28 week fetus. A similar case took place in New York City in 1991 when National Abortion Federation member Abu "The Butcher of Avenue A" Hayat tore the arm off an unborn baby during a late abortion, but in that case the maimed infant, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, was later born alive. ("Doctor to go before board in abortion case," The Tampa Tribune, August 6, 1988)

When Abram Zelikman (John Roe 661) performed the fatal abortion on Eurice Agbagaa in 1989, he had originally said that she was 11 - 12 weeks pregnant. At autopsy it was discovered that Eurice had been at least 19 weeks pregnant. Zelikman had left Eurice in the care of a receptionist when she was showing symptoms of potentially life-threatening complications. The receptionist finally called for an ambulance. At the hospital, doctors who tried in vain to save Eurice's life found that she had in fact been at least

Tralishia was 17 years old when she went to Family Planning Clinic for Reproductive Health in Nashville December 18, 1989. Dr. Karen J. Smiley (Erma Roe 801) told Tralishia that she was six weeks pregnant, performed a suction abortion, and sent the girl home. Four days later, December 22, 1990, Tralishia gave birth to a 1 pound 13 ounce baby girl, De'Angela, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. De'Angela ended up in the NICU. The doctor who delivered De'Angela said that she was 26 weeks of gestational age and had about a 60% chance of survival. Tralishia's mother sued the clinic, Dr. Smiley, and nurse Lola Oni on her behalf Tralishia and the baby for $10 million: $5 million compensatory and $5 million punitive. The attorney noted that Tralishia needed psychiatric care after the abortion, saying, "She's devastated, obviously. She never would have dreamed of having an abortion if she had known that it was 26 weeks old." Tralishia planned to marry the baby's father so they could raise her together. ("Infant given 60% chance following botched abortion," The Tennessean, January 11, 1990; "Health Authorities Will Investigate Clinic," (Clarksville, TN) The Leaf-Chronicle, January 12, 1990)

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