Planned Parenthood Shutters Maryland Abortion Facility While Texas Clinics Slowly Reopen

By Cheryl Sullenger

Silver Spring, Maryland – The Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Silver Spring, Maryland, permanently closed on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2017, after the property’s management team realized that abortion is bad for business. Pro-life activists, led by Lauren Handy, persuaded the property management company not to renew Planned Parenthood’s lease using a narrowly-targeted educational campaign. Planned Parenthood had occupied the same office, located at 1400 Spring St. in Silver Spring, Maryland, for over 20 years, conducting surgical abortions.

“The men and women who ministered at that Planned Parenthood for two decades deserve a lot of credit for their perseverance and tenacity,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “This closing is a real victory for women and their babies, as well as for the pro-life activists that labored and prayed there.”

This closing comes just days after Planned Parenthood in Easton, Pennsylvania, announced it would shut down on March 30.

However, in Texas, as a result of the U. S. Supreme Court striking down that state’s abortion safety law, HB2, last June in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, abortion facilities are slowing beginning to reopen. This is perhaps the only state that is bucking the nation trend of abortion clinic closures that has been ongoing since the early 1990s.

Northpark Medical Group in Dallas, Texas, reopened on March 9, 2017. Local pro-life activists told Operation Rescue that owner and abortionist Douglas Karpen was seen entering the facility on its first abortion day. The facility had closed 2013, because its abortionists – including Karpen — all failed to qualify for local hospital privileges as required.

Karpen, who is based in Houston, was investigated by the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and referred to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Texas Attorney General for criminal prosecution for allegedly murdering late-term babies who were born alive in a manner similar to that used by the notorious convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell. It was these allegations — first brought by Operation Rescue in 2013 — that first tagged Karpen as the “Texas Gosnell,” and contributed to the passage of HB2, which shuttered the Northpark abortion business and others that year. Those allegations were supported by the testimony of four former Karpen employees and photographic evidence. No action has yet been taken on those House criminal referrals.

Meanwhile, Whole Women’s Health announced that they would reopen its Austin facility in April, now that it no longer is required to meet minimum safety standards.

“Twenty-one abortion facilities shut down in Texas as the result of HB2, and the vast majority of them will never reopen,” said Newman. “For nearly four years those 21 abortion businesses were prohibited from killing babies, and as a result the abortion rate dramatically dropped in Texas, saving thousands of lives. Those closures will continue to spare lives through the coming years.”

A recent national abortion facility survey conducted by Operation Rescue shows that abortion clinic closures continue to outpace the few openings.

“We are winning and will continue to win until abortion becomes no more than a tragic footnote in history,” said Newman.

Baltimore Abortion Facility Caught Operating Without a License & Violating Patient Privacy Laws

records&refuse

By Cheryl Sullenger

Baltimore, MD – Even though Baltimore’s Hillcrest Clinic was temporarily closed in February 2016, a group a pro-life supporters continued their routine vigil outside the abortion facility. One activist happened to notice papers blowing down the sidewalk from the nearby commercial dumpster that was a sign renovations were in progress. Being a good citizen, she retrieved the litter of paperwork so she could return it to the dumpster.

But as she causally glanced at the documents, she became alarmed by what she saw.

The papers were medical records from patients who had received abortions.

There were names, addresses, and even a copy of a woman’s photo identification card – all blowing down the sidewalk for anyone to find. When she looked inside the dumpster, she found “buckets” of medical records strewn amongst the broken pieces of office furniture, ceiling tiles, and miscellaneous debris deposited by contractors working on the remodel.

The activist, who asked that she not be identified, was concerned that privacy laws such as the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) were being broken, and that the abortion business had committed a breach of trust. She put the medical records back in the dumpster then took photographs to document the incident.

On the advice of Operation Rescue, a complaint along with her photos was filed with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Then, she waited to see what would happen next.

Reason for Concern

The Hillcrest Clinic first opened in 1973, soon after the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision decriminalized abortions in all 50 states, and claims to be the first legal abortion facility to ever open in Baltimore. While Hillcrest is affiliated with the National Abortion Federation, that hasn’t made it safe by any means. Over the years, there have been a slew of medical malpractice suits and disciplinary actions against its abortionists.

EarlMcLeodFor example, in 1999, Hillcrest abortionist Earl McLeod was working for Potomac Family Planning Center in Rockville when one of his abortion patients, 27-year old Jennifer Halner, died from complications to anesthesia that were exacerbated by negligence, including a lack of patient monitoring, emergency drugs, and equipment.

When it was discovered that Halner had suffered cardiac arrest, the anesthesiologist working with McLeod grabbed an undersized pediatric BVM oxygen mask and began bagging her. If this sounds familiar it should. The same thing happened to another abortion patient, Lakisha Wilson, in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014. She also died.

McLeod was placed on probation for three years and ordered to maintain emergency equipment at his abortion facility, including adult sized oxygen masks and a defibrillator.

Despite the safety issues, it wasn’t until 2013, when Maryland first began requiring abortion facilities to be licensed in the wake of the Steven Brigham illegal late-term abortion scandal, that the Hillcrest Clinic received its first inspection.

Of course, violations were found, including:

• Lack of procedures for dealing with safety issues, such as fires or mechanical hazards.
• Failure to train nine employees in patient transfer procedures.
• Improper labeling and storage of drugs.
• Failure to record discharge diagnosis in patient files.
• Failure to ensure proper sterilization of surgical instruments.

Once a plan of correction was submitted, the matter was considered closed and an ambulatory surgical facility license was issued to the Hillcrest Clinic, allowing it to conduct surgical abortions.

There is no record that any other inspection was done over the next three years.

Operation Rescue has been informed that the Hillcrest Clinic shut down for renovations on February 1, 2016, when it was apparently taken over by Potomac Family Planning Center – the same business where McLeod killed Jennifer Halner. It is believed that this was when the ambulatory surgical facility license that was initially issued to Hillcrest in 2013 was terminated.

It was just under three weeks later that private abortion patient medical records were found blowing out of the dumpster and down the street.

No License

On April 14, 2016, the Maryland Department of Health Care Quality issued a letter to the pro-life complainant noting that the Hillcrest Clinic had been inspected and that her allegations were in fact substantiated.

But there was a catch.

“However, since the [Hillcrest Clinic] was not licensed by our office at the time of the complaint investigation, we were unable to cite any deficiencies. Our Office did notify the Maryland Board of Physicians and the Office of Civil Rights of our findings,” the letter stated.

PatientNameonDocument

To date, there has been no word from the Board of Physicians or the Office of Civil Rights on the patient privacy violations.

Yet, the admission that the Hillcrest Clinic was not licensed for abortions at the time of the inspection is an important one. The abortion facility did not apply for a new ambulatory surgical facility license until April 12.

On April 19, it was discovered that the Hillcrest Clinic had reopened for business. Operation Rescue confirmed that the abortion facility was providing surgical abortions four days per week. A check of the DHMH’s listing of licensed abortion facilities showed no listing for the Hillcrest Clinic.

A local Maryland activist confirmed with a phone call to the Maryland Department of Health Care Quality on May 2, that the Hillcrest Clinic had indeed applied for a new ambulatory facility license, but that the application had not yet been approved.

Without an ambulatory surgical facility license, Hillcrest Clinic cannot legally conduct surgical abortions. That means since at least April 19, 2016, it was conducting surgical abortions in violation of the law.

Operation Rescue has filed a complaint with the Department of Health Care Quality seeking the shut-down of the unlicensed abortion business.

“Hillcrest is operating an illegal abortion facility in Maryland right now, yet the Department of Health Care Quality doesn’t seem to care,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “Abortion regulations aren’t just for show. They are there to make it harder for abortionists to kill people. That’s why its so important that the laws are enforced and tough penalties are assessed when violations are found. What good are those regulations if they are not enforced? This places the lives of women at risk from shoddy, substandard abortion businesses that are allowed to operate outside the law.”

The Hillcrest Clinic certainly isn’t the first illegal abortion facility operating in Maryland. Operation Rescue recently reported on another abortionist, Harold O. Alexander, who was caught conducting late-night surgical abortions at his unlicensed facility in Forestville. Operation Rescue submitted documentation to the DHMH only to be notified that its complaint was being buried in Alexander’s extensive disciplinary file without action.

“There are major problems at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the Board of Physicians and the Department of Health Care Quality. It is knowingly allowing unlicensed surgical abortion facilities to operate in that state in violation of their own regulations,” said Newman. “Its unwillingness to enforce the law is placing the lives of women at risk. It is time for new leadership within the entire bureaucratic structure of the DHMH. Someone should be fired, if not prosecuted for this dereliction of duty.”

Number of Late-term Abortion Facilities in the USA May Surprise You

By Cheryl Sullenger

Washington, D.C. — When Marist polled the American public on the subject of late-term abortion in November 2015, the results were striking.

A full 81% of Americans support banning abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy. Even among those who identify themselves as “pro-choice,” two-thirds oppose second and third trimester abortions to the extent that they agree they should be illegal.

Clearly, based on the unpopularity of late-term abortions, one might conclude that the number of abortion facilities that conduct these abortion procedures would be very small.

However, according to a survey conducted by Operation Rescue in December 2015 through January 2016, the actual number might be surprising.

First, however, it is important to clarify terms.

A human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. A baby in the womb is considered to be full-term at 37 weeks.

The first trimester of pregnancy extends through the first 12 weeks of gestation. Surgical abortion facilities often classify first trimester abortions as those done through the end of 13 weeks. Surgical abortions within this time frame can be done using a one-day procedure.

Abortions done after this time usually require a two day procedure or more depending on the size of the pre-born baby. (Read a description of the late-term Induction Abortion method.)

The term “late-term abortion” can refer to all second and third trimester abortions, but since there is currently a Congressional effort to ban abortion after 20 weeks, references here to “late term abortion facilities” will mean those that conduct abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later.

Surgical Abortion Facilities

In the United States, as of this writing, there are 511 active surgical abortion facilities.

Of those, 162 surgical abortion clinics conduct abortions at 20 weeks gestation or later. Out of the 162 late-term facilities, 122 facilities, about 76%, will not provide abortions after 24 weeks.

Despite research that shows viability may occur as early as 22 weeks, abortion businesses consider viability at 24 weeks of pregnancy. There are 40 abortion facilities in America that openly do abortions at 24 weeks or later.

It may be surprising to know that the vast majority of abortion facilities that offer abortions at 20 weeks or later are not affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Only 18 out of 162 late-term facilities are Planned Parenthood facilities. The remainder, 144 facilities, are independent or have other affiliations.
Late-term by Week
Five abortion facilities openly conduct abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy. These extreme late-term abortion facilities include:

Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Pro-Choice Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California
Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colorado
Germantown Reproductive Health Services in Germantown, Maryland
Women’s Med Center in Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton

Late-term by Affiliation

Since abortion risks to women increase for each week of pregnancy it is important to note that all five of these facilities are not equipped to deal with those consequences, which are all-too frequently life-threatening in nature.

Thus, late-term abortions pose a grave public safety risk to women in this country, who often don’t find out until they are on a gurney in the back of an ambulance just how dangerous late-term abortions can be.

But the risks only increase when the abortionists operate under the radar – some illegally — quietly doing late-term abortions that are not publicly advertised.

Such was the case with Kermit Gosnell, a West Philadelphia abortionist who quietly conducted illegal late-term abortions throughout the evening and into the early morning hours, unbeknownst to the general public, at his “House of Horrors” abortion facility. Gosnell was caught and convicted not only of illegal late-term abortions, but also three counts of first degree murder for “snipping” the necks of babies born alive during late-term abortions.

But Gosnell certainly is not the only abortionist to play fast and loose with the legal limits on late-term abortions.

Steven Chase Brigham made a practice of committing illegal late-term abortions. He used a bi-state abortion scheme in an attempt to circumvent gestational limits on abortion in his home state of New Jersey. This dangerous behavior cost him medical licenses in New York and later in New Jersey, but that hasn’t stopped New Jersey residents from spotting him at his clinics on abortion days. Is Brigham still conducting abortions illegally? It would not be surprising to find out that he was.

Also known for illegal late-term abortions is James Scott Pendergraft IV, who was caught by Operation Rescue operating a bi-state late-term abortion scheme similar to Brigham’s, but with a twist. Pendergraft, who lives in Florida, advertised that he would fly to Maryland where he would oversee the injection of late-term babies with a drug called Digoxin to stop their hearts. He was then willing to send women home while dangerously still carrying their dead babies, which could then be “delivered” at a local hospital of their choice.

But what Pendergraft never told his patients was that he was not licensed to practice in Maryland. While the Maryland Board of Physicians broke up Pendergraft’s illegal late-term operation and put his accomplice, Harold O. Alexander, on a short suspension, it didn’t stop Pendergraft or Alexander from conducting late-term abortions illegally.

Pendergraft was arrested in October, 2015, in South Carolina – when he is also unlicensed – operating an illegal rolling abortion business out of his vehicle. Authorities discovered drugs and bloody surgical instruments in his possession that were caked with fetal tissue. His criminal case is pending.

Meanwhile, Operation Rescue has confirmed that Alexander continues to do late-term abortions through 26 weeks even though the Maryland Board of Physicians filed an Administrative Complaint against him for this illicit practice in July, 2015, and is seeking to revoke his medical license in that state.

From this we can conclude that there are an unknown number of abortionists in American who offer late-term abortions in secret and perhaps illegally at great risk to the lives of women and their babies that the laws of our nation should protect.

While the public soundly rejects late-term abortions, the number of late-term abortion facilities that openly commit such barbaric procedures certainly does not reflect that sentiment. Worse yet is the fact that the number of known late-term facilities is low compared to what actually transpires in the shadows of the secretive American abortion industry.

This problem is a case in point for a Federal ban on late-term abortions, tight abortion restrictions, greater oversight of abortion facilities, and strict enforcement of abortion laws.

On Tuesday, March 15, 2016, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is conducting a hearing on entitled “Late-Term Abortion: Protecting Babies Born Alive and Capable of Pain.” That testimony will be of great interest to those of us who work to expose late-term abortion abuses and halt that grisly practice as we move toward the goal of building an abortion-free America.

View the live stream beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern on March 15 of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on late-term abortions.

Note: Karen Myers contributed to this report.