Abortion Capital, Pt. 5: “We think the process is safe. Nothing is perfect”

This is part final of the five part series “Abortion Capital” delving into the business of lucrative late-term abortions in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Read Abortion Capital, Pt. 1: The Wild, Wild West
  • Read Abortion Capital, Pt. 2: “Am I Killing? Yes, I am. I know that”
  • Read Abortion Capital, Pt. 3: “A baby came out and it was moving”
  • Read Abortion Capital, Pt. 4: The Dancing Dog
  • Albuquerque, NM – Former Baptist minister turned New Age abortion prophet Curtis Boyd operates an abortion clinic in the liberal state of New Mexico, where laws are lax and there is less likelihood for legal entanglements. As far as Boyd and his abortion staff are concerned, the fewer layers of accountability the better. Boyd’s Southwestern Women’s Options is not your average abortion mill. It is where abortions are available throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

    Late-term abortions are overwhelmingly opposed by the vast majority of Americans. According to one Gallup Poll, 68% oppose second trimester abortions and a stunning 84% oppose third trimester abortions. That disapproval is reflected in the law. In most states, abortions after viability are either illegal or highly regulated. Thirty six states have some kind of ban on “late-term” abortions, although the definition of “late-term” varies. Fourteen states prohibit abortions after 24 weeks. Ten states, including Kansas, require a second physician’s approval.

    That Kansas law presented problems for Boyd’s old friend, George Tiller, who had been under investigation since 2003 for conducting illegal late-term abortions in Kansas. At the time of Tiller’s death in 2009, he faced an 11-count disciplinary petition citing illegal late-term abortions and “unprofessional or dishonorable conduct or professional incompetency; and commitment of acts likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public.” That petition would have resulted in disciplinary action that could have included the revocation of Tiller’s medical license. The cased against him was closed only after his death.

    Permissive laws invite late-term abortions

    When Boyd decided to fill in the void left by the closure of Tiller’s Wichita late-term abortion clinic last year, he set up shop in New Mexico, where there are no legal gestational age limits on abortions. The liberal make-up of the state government would make the passage of restrictive laws difficult. Boyd and his wife, Glenna, contribute heavily to pro-abortion candidates to insure that their business is protected from pro-life legislation.

    Boyd’s late-term abortion clinic, Southwestern Women’s Options, located near downtown Albuquerque, follows the same plan pioneered and perfected by Tiller. He even hired two of Tiller’s former abortionists, Shelley Sella and Susan Robinson. Late-term abortions are long, sometimes complex procedures, but the financial pay-off is great. Fees for post viability abortions can range from $5,000-$20,000, depending on the gestational age of the baby.

    Induction Abortion

    The Induction abortion with the use of digoxin injection was developed by Tiller is now widely used throughout the United States by the few abortionists who are still willing to do the late-term procedures, including those at Boyd’s Albuquerque abortion clinic. It has replaced the live partial birth abortion method since the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April, 2007.

    Tiller described this particular abortion method as the MOLD Technique, which is an acronym for the four products employed in the abortion process: Misoprostol, Oxytocin, Laminaria, and Digoxin.

    It differs from the Partial Birth abortion procedure in one critical way. While the Partial Birth abortion method killed the pre-born baby after the feet, legs and torso had been delivered, the Induction abortion method is meant to insure that the pre-born baby is dead prior to delivery.

    “We think the process is safe. Nothing is perfect.”

    The Induction abortion takes 3-4 days to complete. On the first day the woman is given an ultrasound to determine the gestational age of her baby. Then, with the aid of the ultrasound to guide the abortionist, a lethal dose of the heart medication Digoxin is injected into the baby’s heart directly through the woman’s abdomen. Digoxin gives the baby a fatal heart attack. This is an off-label application of the drug, which was developed and approved as a treatment for heart disease.

    In a video shown to potential late-term abortion patients, Tiller discussed the fatal injection:

    Although you may find this a little difficult and a little uncomfortable, on the first day that you arrive at the clinic we will make an injection of a medication called digoxin into the fetus to initiate fetal demise.

    Tiller elaborated on his reasons for killing the baby before beginning the late-term abortion procedure.

    The first reason is so that there will be no fetal pain. We — we have learned with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of patients that women have the question about, “Will this be painful for our baby? Will this be painful for my baby?” And the answer to that is ‘no.’ We make an injection directly into the fetus with a medication called Digoxin on the day that you arrive so that the baby will expire painlessly. The first reason is no fetal pain.

    However, those who have experienced massive heart attacks, describe them as extremely painful and frightening. It is well documented that babies in the later stages of pregnancy can feel pain, and at least one British study indicates that babies as young as 6-8 weeks gestation may experience pain.

    But the most important reason for killing the baby first is to avoid a live birth that could cause the abortionist to run afoul of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as well as other state and federal laws protecting the baby after a live birth, even if the birth is the result of an abortion.

    How safe for the mother is the injection into the fetal heart? Not very.

    Complications from lethal fetal injections are well known. In Orlando, Florida, the misuse of Digoxin resulted in the live birth of Baby Rowan, who died after abortion clinic workers denied him medical care. In Wichita, Kansas, Tiller’s needle slipped, and Baby Sarah was injected in the head with a toxic drug that was a precursor to digoxin. She survived and was later adopted, but suffered a malady of medical problems. She died five years later from complications to the injuries she received as a result of the injection. And the stories go on.

    Boyd abortionist Shelley Sella seems particularly prone to botching the fetal heart injection, as discussed in Part Three of this report.

    “The numerous cases of botched fetal injections of which we are aware are just the tip of the iceberg. Obviously, abortion clinics don’t call us when these complications occur. We find out about only a small fraction,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “The dangers of this kind of abortion have never really been fully studied.”

    Tiller, when describing the procedure on a video for to potential abortion patients, remarked, “We think the process is safe. Nothing is perfect.”

    “I left my baby dead in a toilet”

    After the Digoxin injection, the procedure is almost identical to the Partial Birth Abortion method. The woman’s cervix is packed with laminaria, thin tampon-like sticks made of seaweed that expand the cervix gradually over the next several hours. She is sent home or to a local hotel where she must await the onset of labor.

    The next day, the woman is repacked with larger laminaria sticks and given Misoprostol to prepare her for labor.

    On the final day of the abortion, the woman is given the drug Oxytocin, which induces contractions and the onset of labor. Women then are placed in a room where they endure the labor process. When it is determined that the labor has progressed to the stage where the baby is about to be delivered, each woman is taken into a room with a toilet and told to lean on the nurse and push the baby into the toilet.

    The toilet delivery method is used by a number of abortionists including James Pendergraft in Florida, Susan Robinson, Shelley Sella, and Curtis Boyd in New Mexico, and LeRoy Carhart in Nebraska.

    A description of this abortion method was given by Kelly Dickinson, a former late-term abortion patient, during a interview with host Bill O’Reilly in December, 2006. Her account is both heart-rending and horrifying. [See video above.]

    “Baby Chelsea”

    Sometimes, the abortionists may allow the woman to deliver on a delivery table, especially if the baby is particularly large. In that case, the baby’s legs and torso are pulled from the birth canal, leaving only the head inside. Then scissors are used to open the base of the skull so the contents can be removed through suction aspiration. This allows the head to collapse and the baby to slip easily from the birth canal.

    The mother of a baby we call “Chelsea” for privacy reasons, endured this kind of abortion delivery. She and her husband photographed Baby Chelsea’s body during a religious service conducted at Tiller’s Wichita abortion clinic immediately after her abortion. Later, the still-grieving mother provided Operation Rescue with copies of the pictures. In those photos, one can clearly see the hole that was made at the base of the skull and the ridge that formed when the skull bones collapsed. [Read Baby Chelsea’s full story.]

    “Party Pack”

    Other abortionists, such as Michigan’s Alberto Hodari, prefer to remove the dead late-term baby through dismemberment.

    Once the dead baby is delivered, the woman is given a procedure called Dilatation and Curettage, or D& C. Here, a sharp edged spoon-shaped instrument is used to remove any remaining tissue from the uterus.

    After the abortion the woman is given what Tiller’s employees called the “Party Pack,” which includes abortion aftercare instructions and a prescription for birth control pills. They are then released to return home.

    “It’s awful. It’s unnecessary. It’s dangerous.”

    Other abortionists have responded publicly to the increased use in the Induction abortion with digoxin injection method and its dangers.

    Hodari prefers to dismember live babies between 18 and 24 weeks. He told the Detroit News on July 30, 2007, “[The partial birth abortion method] was much simpler and much less dangerous than what we are doing now. But this is now the law. It’s awful. It’s unnecessary. It’s dangerous. It’s more complicated. It makes the woman go through another procedure that’s not necessary. It impacts everything we do after 18 weeks.”

    Hodari admits that Induction abortions are complex and dangerous. He particularly disapproves of the difficult Digoxin injection into the baby’s heart that is supposed to insure that the baby dead prior to delivery. Never one to let scruples stand in his way, Hodari uses the Induction method even though he considers it dangerous.

    “We do not believe that our patients should take a risk for which the only clear benefit is a legal one to the physician,” abortionist Philip D. Darney, chief of obstetrics at San Francisco General Hospital told the Boston Globe on August 10, 2007. He has chosen not to use the Induction method.

    In spite of the dangers, the Induction abortion method remains the method of choice for late-term abortionists, especially those now practicing without governmental restriction at Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    The reputation of every abortionist associated with that clinic has been tarnished with allegations – and even an admission – that they have been involved with illegal abortion activity. Now, they are together in a state that looks the other way when it comes to post-viability abortions. That is a recipe for disaster.

    “We expect that there will be serious, life threatening emergencies at Boyd’s abortion clinic just like there were in Wichita. Women need to be warned of the very real dangers that they face at Boyd’s clinic. It is only a matter of time before a woman dies from a botched abortion there,” said Newman. “The nature of the procedure makes it inevitable.”

    “We plan to use every legal option available to us to make sure the killing stops, from First Amendment street activism, to political lobbying, to options that may be available through the legal system. But the first step is to raise public awareness and warn others of the dangers so they don’t fall victim to this predatory late-term abortion mill. We pray that this series of investigative reports will help do that.”

    • oscar

      Kelly sounded like she was only just a number at Tiller’s abortuary. “Group counseling” with others having the same procedure?! Sounds like a violation of the HIPAA law!

    • Julia M