How Harvesting Organs from a Dead Abortion Patient Thwarted Justice

father's donation refusal-highlighted2

An Operation Rescue Special Report
By Cheryl Sullenger

Cleveland, OH — When Lakisha Wilson renewed her driver’s license on May 25, 2012, she checked the permission box to become an organ donor. She had no idea that she would be dead less than two years later, or that a simple flick of the pen at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles would become a roadblock to preventing those responsible for her death from being held accountable.

Lakisha Wilson was a 22-year old African-American woman who died in March 2014, as the result of second trimester abortion complications at Preterm, an abortion facility located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Her death not only raised questions about patient safety at the high-volume abortion business, but also brought to light another extremely sensitive issue that has rarely been discussed — until now. That issue concerns the high-pressure tactics of organ procurement organizations to secure organ donation consent from families of women like Wilson, who die from abortion complications and other surgeries.

The news has been full of reports in recent months about organ procurement companies contracting with Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses to obtain aborted baby remains for “donation,” often to the financial benefit of both the abortion provider and the organ procurement organization. However, there is another aspect to the issue of organ procurement involving dead abortion patients, which also deserves public discussion.

Certainly, organ donation to those in need of transplants is a noble and life-saving decision under most circumstances. At any given time, there are over 121,000 people awaiting organ transplants in the U.S. It is true that some tragically die before a suitable donor can be found.

“We support those who wish to willingly become organ donors. In most cases, it saves lives and gives the families of donors comfort knowing that the death of their loved one will enable others to live,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “However, in Lakisha Wilson’s case, we have serious concerns about how the donation process was handled, and how it may have actually protected those responsible for her death.”

Second-Trimester Abortion Gone Bad

Wilson’s nightmare began on March 21, 2014, when she reported to the Preterm abortion clinic on Shaker Boulevard in Cleveland, Ohio, for an abortion at 19 weeks, 4 days, according to a Preterm ultrasound report that was done about two weeks earlier. (Ultrasound results from a different facility placed her closer to 23 weeks at the time of her abortion.)

Wilson suffered almost immediate complications during her second trimester abortion, which was conducted by Preterm abortionist Lisa Perriera. Even though Wilson’s blood pressure was dropping fast, Perriera finished the abortion before tending to Wilson’s dangerously escalating medical emergency. By then, Wilson had stopped breathing and suffered cardiac arrest.

perriera-wilson-procurement

According to public 911 records obtained through open records requests and medical records leaked to Operation Rescue, it was about thirty minutes after Wilson suffered respiratory arrest that an ambulance was finally called. A Preterm employee told a 911 dispatcher that Wilson was “not breathing at all.” EMS workers arriving at the scene (after a delay caused by a malfunctioning elevator) noted that Wilson indeed was not breathing. Her pupils were fixed and dilated. They were able to restart her heart and provide oxygenation by “bagging” her.

Wilson was eventually transported to the University Hospital Case Medical Center where she was evaluated and given four units of packed red blood cells to treat an apparent hemorrhage that was the source of her cardio-respiratory failure. She was transferred to the Intensive Care unit, placed on life support, and listed in critical but stable condition.

Somewhere along the way, it was determined that Wilson was “brain dead.”

Lifebanc

At the University Hospital Case Medical Center, an organ procurement organization (OPO) called Lifebanc began evaluating Wilson for organ harvesting.

Lifebanc is a non-profit OPO based in Cleveland, which claims to work with 20 Ohio hospitals to:

• Identify donors.
• Match them to patients on the National Transplant Waiting List.
• Arrange for the harvesting of organs by teams of surgeons.
• Arrange transport to hospitals for transplantation into suitable recipients.

OPOs look for donor candidates among those who are hospitalized due to life-threatening brain injuries as the result of traffic accidents, strokes, or lack of oxygen, according to a video posted on Lifebanc’s web site, which was produced by OrganDonor.gov a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Family Approached

After Wilson’s family was notified that Lakisha had been taken to the hospital, they rushed to be by her side only to learn that their worst fears were realized. As they gathered in a hospital waiting room in shock and disbelief, a representative — allegedly from Preterm — first approached them, seeking permission to harvest Wilson’s organs.

Wilson’s grief-stricken family looked at the Preterm representative as part of the reason why their loved one lay comatose in a hospital bed hooked to machines that artificially controlled her life functions.

There were questions about Lakisha’s death – questions that had not been answered. How could a healthy 22-year old woman die from what everyone said was one of the safest and common surgical procedures in America? What went wrong and who was responsible?

Wilson’s family refused to sign the consent forms so that the organ harvesting could begin.

Thus began a high-pressure effort to secure the family’s permission to harvest Wilson’s organs.

High Demand

Organdonor-chartWhy were Wilson’s organs wanted so badly?

Since African Americans are more prone to suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure than other racial groups, they are more prone to organ failure.

It is true that organs are not supposed to be matched to donors based on race, but there are certain important blood type characteristics and tissue markers that are shared more often between people of the same racial make-up. These markers help determine transplant compatibility.

In America, about 30% of all organ recipients are African American, making them the largest minority population in need of organs for transplant. However, this racial group comprises only about 18% of all organ donors. Therefore, there exists a critical shortage of organs compatible for transplant into those of African American heritage.

As a young, healthy African American woman, who succumbed to a lack of oxygen to the brain, Wilson’s organs would have been in high demand.

Father Adamant about Not Consenting

Over the course of the next few days, Lifebanc had a vested interest in Lakisha Wilson.

At first, all testing on Wilson was ordered by hospital physicians. But on March 26, that changed.

Lifebanc ran a search of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Organ Donor database and discovered that Wilson had given her consent to “make an anatomical gift” of her organs upon her death.

Suspicious Circumstances2With this document in hand, Lifebanc did not need the family to consent before the organ harvesting could begin. That same day, it ordered testing to ensure that life support devices were properly placed and that Wilson’s organs were in good condition.

The next day, Wilson’s father was again approached by Lifebanc with the request to harvest Lakisha’s organs. He adamantly refused to sign any documents. In fact, Wilson’s records include a hand-written note signed by Wilson’s dad, which read:

March 27, 2014. Life banc [sic] my daughter Lakisha Wilson died under suspicious circumstances. At this time the Cuyahoga County Coroner is investigating the cause of died [sic]. I adamantly refuse to sign papers giving my consent for organ donation. Life banc [sic] personnel are strongly aware of my concerns.

Lifebanc chose to ignore Wilson’s father. Paperwork was processed that noted her father’s refusal to complete or sign any of the consent and policy forms. While Lifebanc’s actions were technically legal, they were ethically dubious.

Organs Procured

Over the next two days, March 27 and 28, Lifebanc ordered additional testing on Wilson to make sure her organs remained disease free and in good condition for harvesting and transplant while the paperwork was processed. Wilson wasn’t treated like a person any more. She had become a commodity.

On March 28, against the expressed wishes of her family, and knowing that there were questions about Wilson’s care and treatment during her fatal abortion, Lifebanc essentially gutted Lakisha Wilson and removed nearly every basic internal organ, including her heart, lungs, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, abdominal aorta, inferior vena cava, kidneys, ureters, adrenal glands and their adjacent connective tissue.

Autopsy on Incomplete Cadaver

Thus, when the coroner, Dr. Joseph A. Felo, received what was left of Lakisha Wilson’s body, he was forced to conduct an autopsy on a partial cadaver. He also lacked the remains of Wilson’s aborted baby, and had to rely on Preterm’s medical records for certain “facts” about the supposed gestational age of her pregnancy.

Felo concluded in Wilson’s autopsy that she died from cardiac arrest resulting in brain damage from oxygen deprivation, a known complication to a therapeutic abortion. In an interview with an investigator with the Ohio Department of Health, Felo explained that because cardiac arrest is a known complication to a therapeutic abortion, Wilson death “did not indicate medical malpractice.”

However, his conclusions were based on insufficient data. Why had Wilson hemorrhaged and why wasn’t her condition treated in time by Preterm’s abortionist, Lisa Perriera? Why did she wait a half hour after Wilson stopped breathing to call 911?

Lakisha&Flowers

Without Lakisha’s organs or her babies’ remains, there was no way to determine the full extent of complications or whether Preterm staff members were telling the truth.

Just as Wilson’s father feared if organ donation were to take place, the “suspicious circumstances” under which his daughter died would never be sufficiently explained.

“This complete disregard for the wishes of the family or consideration for the circumstances of Wilson’s death make Lifebanc’s actions troubling,” said Newman. “Wilson was kept on life support for days — not to treat her, but for the sole purpose of keeping her organs viable for harvesting and transplant.”

$25 Million per Year

lifebanc logoLifebanc is a non-profit organization that takes in about $25 million each year. According the company’s 990 tax report from 2013, the most recent year available, Lifebanc ended that fiscal year with net assets totaling more than $14 million.

The Chief Executive Officer of Lifebanc is Gordon Bowen, whose salary $253,000 yearly with over $43,000 in additional compensation.

Lifebanc’s Medical Director is Dr. Daniel Lebovitz, a Cleveland-based pediatrician who to be affiliated with a number of Ohio hospitals. His annual salary in 2013 from Lifebanc alone was $101, 347.

“There appears to be good money in the organ procurement business,” said Newman. “Combine a case with high-demand organs with financial incentives, and it looks like we have a recipe for high-pressure tactics to obtain consent for organ donation that include ignoring a family’s wishes and the need for a thorough investigation into a suspicious death.”

Others Targeted

Wilson is not the only patient suffering an abortion-related death that has been targeted for organ donation.

In 2005, Christin Gilbert, a 19-year old with Down syndrome, died from complications to a third-trimester abortion in Wichita, Kansas. Since Gilbert succumbed to sepsis, an infection that caused several of her organs to fail, only her eyes were harvested for eventual corneal transplant.

Free to Kill Again

In Gilbert’s case, the abortionists involved in her death, LeRoy Carhart and George Tiller, were absolved of responsibility. This time, it was not due to the inability to reach conclusions due to harvested organs, but for politically-motivated reasons. Because he was never held accountable, Carhart was free to kill again.

On February 7, 2014, he did just that. Another of Carhart’s third-trimester abortion patients, Jennifer Morbelli, died from complications. Her organs were too compromised to be suitable for donation. Again, Carhart was not held responsible. There is a likelihood that yet another of his abortion patients will die.

It is true that donating organs saves lives, and that is indeed noble. However, abortion-related deaths pose unique situations that should be taken into consideration by organ donation companies.

When organ donation conceals the incompetency of abortionists, as may have occurred in the Wilson case, this could leave a dangerous abortionist to kill again. Lives are endangered by the inability to perform a thorough autopsy on a complete cadaver and get to the bottom of what happened to cause the deaths of otherwise healthy women.

Michael Crichton’s “Coma”

keep organs viableThe Wilson tragedy hearkens to mind the Michael Crichton’s 1978 movie “Coma.” In that story, a patient is placed under anesthesia for a routine abortion. As her vital signs began to deteriorate, the abortionist finished the abortion then tried in vain to awaken her. The anesthesiology noted that the patient’s eyes were fixed and dilated.

In the movie, arrangements were then made to place the patient on life support and transfer her to a facility where her body would be maintained indefinitely. However, when the patient suddenly dies, it prompts another physician to investigate. It was discovered that at the secondary facility, the organs of comatose patients were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Of course, in the movie, the illegal black market organ-selling scheme is uncovered and the guilty are punished.

Certainly, no one is saying that the deaths of abortion patients are on purpose or that their organs are being illegally sold.

However, there is a profit motive for organ procurement companies to ignore the unique situations posed by abortion-related deaths. When this motive hinders an investigation and allows a dangerous abortionist to go free, it poses a very real moral conflict.

“Understanding why healthy women are dying at abortion clinics and identifying incompetent abortionists can also save lives,” said Newman. “The risk of further abortion deaths should outweigh an organ procurement company’s goal of organ harvesting and the financial remuneration that accompanies it. What happened to Lakisha Wilson was wrong, and we cannot allow it to happen again to someone else.”

The Inconvenient Truth About Texas Abortion Wait Times & Costs No One Wants to Admit

Abortion Appt Wait TImes-TX

By Cheryl Sullenger

Austin, TX — There is no doubt that the Texas abortion safety law known as HB2, which is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, has had an impact on decreasing abortions in Texas.

However, recent news stories are just not getting it right when they discuss the extent of the law’s impact on abortion wait times, abortion costs, and even the decrease in the number of abortions in Texas. Conclusions that are being drawn in the main-stream media are not based on the hard facts, but on emotional anecdotes provided by abortion businesses that have a vested interest in convincing the public and legal decision-makers that abortion laws are bad for women.

“What we are seeing now is an orchestrated propaganda campaign in the left-leaning mainstream media to discredit abortion safety laws such as those passed in Texas. This is more about pushing a radical abortion agenda on the American people that reporting the facts,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “But when you look at the actual data, as we have, the media’s brazen attempt at public manipulation on the subject of abortion is exposed.”

Operation Rescue has compiled data that clearly debunks the current media hysteria over supposed long wait times and higher abortion costs in Texas. This data was submitted to the Supreme Court in an amici curiae brief filed on behalf of Operation Rescue by the Liberty Counsel in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Case 15-274.

From December 1-15, 2015, Operation Rescue staff members placed over 1,000 direct calls to each abortion facility in the U.S. and spoke directly with abortion clinic workers about abortion wait times and pricing. That data was analyzed and comparisons were made between Texas and other states to see if Texas women were actually forced to wait “weeks” for abortions and paying more than women in other states.

Texas abortion wait times fall below national average

Average Wait

Operation Rescue’s meticulously gathered data shows that the average waiting time for abortions in the U.S. is 8.5 days. That is measured from the time a potential patient calls to schedule an appointment to the day the procedure can actually be done.
In Texas, with the new safety law in effect, the average wait time for an abortion appointment 6.5 days – a full two days under the national average.

The New York Times lamented in a recent article that abortion wait times were driving women out of state. To support their presupposition, they presented anecdotes from women who sought abortions around Christmas time and into January.

However, Operation Rescue’s survey took place before Christmas. Surveyors discovered that many abortion providers curtailed office hours due to the holidays.

In fact, it was the curtailed hours that contributed to the post-holiday increase in abortion wait times – not abortion laws, as the New York Times would have the public believe.

“The New York Times piece was nothing but shameless yellow journalism. It is doubtful if anyone in the main-stream media ever bothered to check on actual appointment wait times or costs before claiming that the sky is falling on women in Texas,” said Newman. “The fact is that Texas falls well below the national average for wait times and surgical abortion costs, and we have the data to prove it.”

Comparing abortion appointment wait times to those for dentist appointments reveals the hype and scare tactics used by abortion supporters to oppose common-sense safety laws. While a woman might wait a little over a week for an abortion, she will wait about five weeks to see her dentist. This makes getting an abortion easier than getting a tooth filled.

Texas abortion costs below national average

Average Abortion Cost-TX

Operation Rescue also found that the national average cost of a first trimester surgical abortion in the U.S. is $594.74, while the average cost of a medication abortion is $568.50.

In Texas, where abortion supporters complain that the costs have become prohibitively expensive due to new regulations, surgical abortions cost an average of $578.47, which is $16.27 below the national average.

Medication abortions cost an average of $591.67 in Texas, slightly above the national average. However, there are 17 states that are more expensive than Texas for the abortion pill.

One of the reasons that medication abortions are slightly more expensive in Texas than surgical abortions is due to the fact that there are no medication-only abortion facilities in that state.

Operation Rescue’s meticulous research uncovered an inconvenient truth: Medication abortions prescribed at facilities that also conduct surgical abortions cost more than the same medication abortions prescribed at facilities that do not do surgical abortions.

Yet, for all their complaining about reduced abortion access and higher costs, Texas abortion businesses have not bothered to make the lower-overhead facilities a priority, even though they drive down costs for their abortion customers.

“This shows that the Abortion Cartel places a higher priority on surgical abortions than on medication abortions,” said Newman. “This is probably because the pricier surgical abortions take about five minutes and the abortionist never has to see those patients again, while the medication abortions often require more than one visit. This means there is more profit in the surgical abortions, and we have found that profit motives trump any other consideration within the abortion industry.”

Abortion decreases

Decrease-TX

As for the drop in Texas abortion numbers, Operation Rescue examined the official statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services and found that the numbers currently bandied about in news stories are not in line with official numbers released by the state.

But what is worse is that the numbers are used to frighten people into believing that having babies is bad, when in fact, it is the brutal killing of innocent babies in the womb that is an evil act.

For example, the Texas Tribune has reported that the number of abortions done in Texas were 63,168 in 2013, but the Texas Department of State Health Services puts the official number of 2013 abortions at 61,912 – a discrepancy of 1,256 abortions.

The Texas Tribune further states that according to “preliminary” abortion numbers for 2014, there were 54,191 abortions done in Texas in 2014, “almost 9,000 fewer procedures in the state compared to the year before.”

However, subtracting the supposed 2014 numbers from the official 2013 total number of abortions in Texas, we find that there were 7,721 fewer abortions in 2014 over the previous year – not “almost 9,000.” The lower number represents just under a 12% decrease in abortions in 2014, which is significant, but not as dramatic as it sounds when one considers the average yearly decrease in abortion numbers over the previous three years was 6.13%.

Yet, news articles erroneously spin the inflated reduction in abortions as proof that the clinic closures pose an “undue burden” on women.

Why the mainstream media would inflate the number of fewer abortions in Texas? Why would they claim women have to wait ‘weeks’ for abortions when they don’t. Why do reporters complain about the high cost of abortions in Texas when prices are actually below the national average?

There are two plausible answers. One is that the numbers used were accidentally inaccurate. The other is more sinister.

“It is more likely that over-inflated numbers and other hysterical rhetoric about long wait times and high costs are being purposely used by a leftist media to promote a radical abortion agenda. To stop similar set-backs for their friends in the Abortion Cartel, pro-abortion news organizations are attempting to manipulate the public into believing that the Texas abortion law is harming women. That isn’t journalism. That’s fabrication,” said Newman.

From examining the actual data regarding abortion wait times and costs, it is clear that the Texas abortion law HB2 has not posed an “undue burden” on women. In fact, abortions are actually cheaper and easier to get in Texas than they are in several other states. The decrease in abortion numbers that some treat as a harbinger of disaster, should be applauded as a positive step in the right direction toward protecting innocent life.

“The reality is that women are better off without predatory abortion businesses trying to sell them services they do not need. Pregnant women don’t need abortions. Instead of using killing to solve problems, women need love, support, and practical assistance from their friends, families and communities to help them work through the issues they face,” said Newman. “In Texas and the rest of the nation, we still have much work to do before women and babies are truly protected.”

Federal Suit Against Disgraced Abortionist Reveals Dangers of Corners-Cutting Methotrexate Abortions

Bottom-of-the-barrel abortionists use this cheap, ineffective abortion drug to financially exploit poor women at the cost of their safety

METHO-BANNER

By Cheryl Sullenger

Frederick, Maryland — When Christy O’Connell reported to one of Steven Chase Brigham’s Maryland abortion facilities on July 26, 2012, she had no idea how that visit would alter her life.

According to court documents obtained by Operation Rescue, O’Connell’s experiences with Brigham’s notoriously shoddy abortion businesses resulted in the filing of three Federal Court lawsuits against Brigham and his medical director, Vikram Kaji, and two other abortionists then in his employment, Iris Dominy, and Mansour Panah.

It began in June 2012, when O’Connell first discovered that she was pregnant. A visit to her primary care provider on July 16, 2012, confirmed her pregnancy though a blood pregnancy test and a vaginal ultrasound, which determined that her baby was 8 weeks, 2 days (58 days) gestation.

Ten days later, on July 26, 2012, O’Connell reported to one of Brigham’s “American Women’s Services” abortion facilities in Frederick, Maryland.

frederick

It is doubtful that O’Connell was aware of Brigham’s abysmal reputation as a shoddy provider or that two years earlier, Brigham and his associate, Nicola Riley, had been caught conducting an illegal bi-state late-term abortion scheme in Maryland that nearly cost one patient her life, and resulted in the revocation of Riley’s Maryland medical license and Brigham’s last medical license in New Jersey.

Brigham himself never held a medical license in Maryland. Most of the time, when he wasn’t conducting illegal abortions without a license at his secret Elkton facility, Brigham depended on abortionists he hired to run his abortion businesses in Maryland. Those four facilities were part of a chain of 15 cut-rate abortion centers he operated in least four states from his headquarters in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Incompetent and unqualified

O’Connell consulted with Brigham employee and abortionist Iris Dominy during her visit to the Fredrick location.

There, O’Connell received a second ultrasound conducted by the “office manager,” who determined that O’Connell was only 7 weeks, 4 days (53 days) along, a completely inaccurate determination made by an employee who was not properly trained or qualified to conduct ultrasound examinations, much less interpret them, according to her suit.

Dominy completely depended on the ultrasound results provided to her by the unqualified staffer and never bothered to interpret or approve them.

After a discussion with Dominy, O’Connell decided to try a non-surgical abortion option. O’Connell’s abortion would involve two drugs, methotrexate and misoprostol, neither of which are approved by the FDA for use in abortions.

Dangerous drug

Methotrexate-Misoprostol failure

Methotrexate is a dangerous chemotherapy drug that carries with it a long list of serious side effects. It was used by abortionists in an off-label application to induce early abortions before the FDA approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, or RU486, in 2001. Since the mifepristone/misoprostol regimen has a slightly lower failure rate, methotrexate soon fell out of favor with all but the most disreputable abortion businesses in America.

Even according to the ever-dubious protocols developed by the National Abortion Federation, the continued use of methotrexate to induce abortions carries grave concerns and is not recommended for abortions beyond 56 days gestation. The NAF notes that due to the high failure rate, the few NAF abortionist that will actually still use methotrexate will not use it after 50 days gestation.

Just how high is the failure rate? The NAF indicates that for women 49 days pregnant or earlier, only 67% will abort within one week after one dose of methotrexate and misoprostol. It would take a second dose of misoprostol, a stomach ulcer drug that causes unpredictable and sometimes violent uterine contractions, in order for 80-85% of women to abort within two weeks.

But it gets worse. The failure rate of methotrexate and misoprostol actually doubles when used after 49 days of pregnancy. The dangers are so severe that the NAF advises that patients must have “ready access” to a telephone, emergency medical care, and transportation. The facilities administering the abortion drugs must also be capable of conducting surgical abortions in the likely event that the medications should fail.

O’Connell was actually 68 days pregnant when Dominy administered methotrexate and misoprostol to end her abortion. A failed or incomplete abortion was nearly assured.

O’Connell didn’t know that. She signed a consent form that indicated the drugs had only an 8% failure rate. That same consent form erroneously informed O’Connell that the more effective drug, mifepristone, was not yet available in the US, when in fact it had been in regular use for eleven years. The consent form went on to explain methotrexate can cause severe birth defects, which was about the only true thing she was ever told.

Profit over safety

So why even use methotrexate if it is so dangerous and ineffective? O’Connell’s complaint against Brigham and Kaji bluntly answers that question.

It is asserted that American Women’s Services, acting through its agents, Drs. Brigham and Kaji, prescribed methotrexate and misoprostol as therapy for medical abortions instead of other FDA-approved regimens in order to cut costs and maximize profits. In fact, one pill of mifepristone costs approximately $95, whereas one dose of methotrexate costs between $5 and $25. [Emphasis added.]

O’Connell paid just $310 for her abortion, a price Operation Rescue has confirmed AWS patients still currently pay. This is far below the national average cost for medication abortions of $568.50 and below the average cost in Maryland of $404.33. Brigham can afford to set his prices so low because he pays next to nothing for substandard, ineffective drugs. This undercuts the competition while maintaining a hefty profit margin. This cut-rate, predatory pricing primarily targets the poor for financial exploitation.

In addition, a predatory profit motive led Brigham and his associates to further cut corners on patient safety. Methotrexate is sold for intramuscular injection. There is a reference in the court documents that indicates O’Connell may have “ingested” the methotrexate drug orally. A health inspection of all four of Brigham’s Maryland abortion facilities discovered that oral administration of injectable methotrexate was standard procedure even though medical literature indicates that oral consumption only further increases the failure rate of the drug.

“Not only was Brigham too cheap to use approved drugs, he was too cheap to even by hypodermic needles so that the inferior drugs he bought could be properly injected. Cutting corners to maximize profits at the expense of women’s health and lives is a signature of Brigham abortion businesses. There is just no way that Brigham’s abortion chain should be allowed to continue to exploit women in this dangerous and despicable way,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.

Too dangerous to operate

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene agreed with Newman, and in March 2013, it issued an order immediately suspending the licenses of all four of Brigham’s known Maryland facilities after they refused to submit an acceptable correction plan for egregious violations discovered during inspections.

Those violations included:

• Failure to ensure all staff were trained in basic life support.
• Failure to ensure sonographers were properly trained and certified.
• Failure to maintain working emergency equipment.
• Failure to maintain a sanitary environment.
• Unlicensed workers dispensing misoprostol to abortion patients without doctor supervision and before the patient had been seen by a licensed physician.

The facility licenses were permanently suspended on May 9, 2013, and Brigham’s four Maryland abortion facilities were forced to shut down.

However, Brigham later quietly reopened at least three of them as medication-only abortion facilities, which allows them to operate without licensing, without inspection, and without accountability.

This is extremely problematic since medication abortions done at these facilities are dangerous, do not comply with FDA protocols, and are prone to complications such as those experienced by O’Connell.

Still pregnant

After receiving the abortion drugs on July 26, O’Connell returned to Brigham’s Frederick abortion clinic on August 17, 2012, for a follow up appointment. At that visit, she indicated she was still experiencing symptoms of pregnancy.

She was given a trans-abdominal ultrasound, (once again by an unqualified clinic worker), and told that no intrauterine pregnancy could be detected. She was told there was “no need” for a blood or urine pregnancy test because the ultrasound exam was “conclusive evidence” that she was not pregnant. O’Connell was told to visit her primary care provider in three months, handed a prescription for birth control pills, and sent on her way.

O’Connell continued to live her life believing she was not pregnant. She stayed on all her prescription medications, which included anti-depressants, asthma medication, and other drugs.

On October 5, 2012, O’Connell visited her primary care physician for a routine “well-woman” check-up. That was when her doctor discovered that O’Connell was still pregnant – now more than 18 weeks along.

Her prescriptions were immediately altered for the sake of her baby and she was designated a “high-risk” obstetrical patient. She saw her obstetrician almost every week.

Joseph’s suffering

timeline

When O’Connell reached about 28 weeks into her pregnancy, she was admitted to the hospital suffering from preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition involving extremely high blood pressure that can only be cured by the delivery of the baby.

On December 19, 2012, Joseph O’Connell was born and rushed into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unity where he remained for almost two months. Joseph suffers several medical conditions, some of which are due to his prematurity and some to the dangerous abortion drugs given his mother. He continues to be treated for hearing loss, developmental delays, heart defects, and “other problems.”

Now O’Connell is seeking damages against Brigham, Dominy, Vikram Kaji, and Mansour Panah in a Health Claims Alternative Dispute Resolution. Arbitration has been waived and the three initial complaints filed last year were combined into one case by the Federal Court in February, 2016.

Business as usual

Today, Brigham continues to operate his chain of 15 abortion offices in at least four states, even though his medical licenses in six states have been revoked or surrendered under threat of revocation. He has repeatedly, completely, and publicly been disgraced as an incompetent provider that poses a grave danger to the public, whose profit motives have always trumped patient safety.

Like his Maryland facilities, Brigham was forced to halt surgical abortions at his Delaware abortion office or risk being shut down after it was discovered that he failed to obtain the accreditation required of abortion businesses in that state. That office continues to sell medication abortions, thereby evading regulatory oversight.

If he is too dangerous to practice medicine, why is he allowed to manage and control medical protocols and policies at his shoddy abortion centers? Why is he allowed to operate medication abortion facilities that fly below the regulatory radar when his medication abortion protocols have been proven to be just as dangerous as surgical abortions at his facilities?

Patient death

baltimoreAWS

Less than two months after the birth of Joseph O’Connell, while he still lay in the NICU struggling for life, Iris Dominy’s incompetent abortion practices were responsible for yet another tragedy. Maria Santiago, 38, underwent a surgical abortion by Dominy at Brigham’s Baltimore office on February 13, 2013.

Santiago was left unattended and unmonitored while still under anesthesia. No one noticed when Santiago stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. By the time anyone checked on her, Santiago was motionless and not breathing at all. She was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

In May 2013, the Maryland State Board of Physicians suspended Dominy’s medical license. It was later restored with a reprimand and placed on probation. She was ordered not to commit any procedures that required sedation. Less than three months later, Dominy’s probation was terminated, but the sedation restriction still remains in effect.

The Frederick abortion facility where O’Connell received her “abortion” has since closed. While an AWS receptionist still tells callers that the facility is “undergoing “renovation,” the closure appears permanent. However, the three other Maryland American Women’s Services abortion facilities dangerously continue to offer methotrexate as an abortion option.

As for Kaji and Panah, who are also defendants on O’Connell’s suit, they have each had their own troubles.

Panah’s sex abuse and other problems

Mansour Panah has a disciplinary history going back to 1988 when his license was temporarily suspended after the Board determined that he had sexually assaulted three patients. In 1995, again fined for sexually abusing patients. Panah’s license was once again suspended in 2011 on charges related to a botched cosmetic surgical procedure and illegally transporting medical waste in his private vehicle.

In May, 2013, Panah’s license was suspended once again due to violations and the abortion-related death of Maria Santiago at Brigham facilities in Maryland where he served as the medical director. His license was reinstated only to be suspended again when he failed to show up for a disciplinary hearing.

Thankfully, on October 31, 2014, Panah sent a letter to the Maryland Board of Physicians permanently surrendering his medical license to avoid further disciplinary action and due to health issues, but this does not absolve him of responsibility for his part in the harm that was inflicted upon O’Connell and her son.

Kaji’s sex charges and incompetence

brigham-kajiVikram Kaji, the medical director for Brigham’s abortion chain, also has a history of improper sexual conduct with his patients and had been disciplined in 2013 for failing to properly supervise Brigham’s New Jersey clinics.

Once Brigham lost his New Jersey license in 2015, he supposedly transferred ownership to Kaji. But Kaji denied he owned the clinics and insisted Brigham was still in charge. That prompted the New Jersey Attorney General’s office to file a complaint against Kaji in 2015 for going along with Brigham’s “sham” transfer. Finally, Brigham’s attorney was able to convince the Attorney General’s office that Brigham only administers the business end of the New Jersey American Women’s Services abortion facilities through his management company and has no medical duties or responsibilities.

“I don’t believe Brigham and don’t trust him to ever tell the truth. From our long dealings and research on him and his unscrupulous business practices, we know Brigham to be a man that will say whatever he thinks people want to hear. He is by definition a silver-tongued devil who cannot be taken at his word,” said Newman. “I have no doubt that Brigham is just as involved with his abortion business as he ever was.”

Despite Kaji’s documented incompetence, he continues as Medical Director for Brigham’s New Jersey abortion facilities, enabling Brigham’s bad behavior — all at great risk to women.

Lessons

As O’Connell’s lawsuit continues to wind its way through the system, several lessons should be learned from it.

• The use of methotrexate to induce abortions should be banned. It poses far too many risks to women and their babies in the all-too-likely event that the abortion drugs fail.*
• Maryland and other states should implement new laws to establish licensing and oversight for abortion facilities that provide medication-only abortions. These often-dangerous facilities are falling through the regulatory gaps and women are paying the price by suffering complications from corners-cutting and greed of unaccountable abortionists.**
• Given the decades of deception, disciplinary actions, and patient harm caused by Brigham’s American Women’s Services abortion chain, immediate steps should be taken by authorities in Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia, to shut down this chain of predatory, substandard abortion mills in the interest of public safety.

In addition, Operation Rescue has reason to believe that Steven Chase Brigham may still be illegally engaged in conducting abortions and is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction. [Learn more here.]

“The only thing that will protect women and their babies from further exploitation and injury is to put Brigham behind bars where he belongs and shut down all of his abortion operations,” said Newman. “That seems to be just common sense. But don’t look for it to happen any time soon. Brigham has spent the better part of four decades learning new ways to violate the law and evade enforcement. In the meantime, women beware!”

Read O’Connell v. Brigham & Kaji
Read O’Connell v. American Women’s Services & Dominy
Read O’Connell v. Panah
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*This is not to say that any other method of abortion is “safe” or acceptable. They are not. All abortions are immoral because they take an innocent human life, and all carry inherent and unacceptable risks to the lives and health of women.

**Operation Rescue works to end the barbaric practice of abortion in America. While regulation may not ban abortion, passing laws that establish regulatory oversight on all abortion businesses and limit certain abortion methods can lead to the closure of facilities that cannot or will not obey the law. This is proven to save lives by lowering abortion numbers and sparing women from at least some of the dangerous abortion businesses that are currently inflicting harm.