NPR Ignores Facts about Ohio Abortion Patient Death While Siding with Those that Killed Her

By Cheryl Sullenger

Cleveland, OH – When Lakisha Wilson walked into Cleveland’s Preterm abortion clinic a year ago, she never dreamed it would be the last thing she ever did.

Now, an NPR article published on March 3, 2015, is taking the side of those who are responsible for Wilson’s abortion-related death in bemoaning the enactment abortion laws in Ohio that were meant to spare women like Wilson from landing on a cold slab in the morgue.

“Abortion clinics in Ohio need more oversight, not less, and Wilson’s tragic death proves it,” said Troy Newman President of Operation Rescue. “Not only were Ohio’s abortion laws inadequate to save Wilson’s life, but failures in regulatory enforcement continue to put other women’s lives at risk as well.”

But one would not understand that reading the NPR report that interviewed Preterm’s executive director, Chrisse France, who bemoans the fact that hers is one of two remaining abortion clinics in the Cleveland area since laws requiring abortion clinics to be licensed and meet minimum safety requirements shut down half the abortion businesses in Ohio.

Fully Booked

“We are more fully booked, and I think we have a harder time squeezing patients in if they’re earlier in the pregnancy,” France told NPR, noting that business is up at her clinic by 10 percent since most of her competitors closed.

Perhaps France is having a harder time “squeezing in” early-term patients because she can make more money targeting poor urban women of color like Lakisha Wilson, for more lucrative abortions in the later stages of pregnancy.

France continued to complain about the expense and inconvenience for women that Ohio’s 24-hour waiting period poses. However, the later abortions for which France seems eager to clear her appointment calendar, usually require overnight stays and are far more costly – and dangerous — than the early term abortions she says she can’t fit in.

The dichotomy of complaining about abortion access while denying access to less expensive and (supposedly) safer early abortions wasn’t lost.

Abortionist Laments Viability Testing

Preterm abortionist Lisa Perierra was responsible for Wilson’s abortion. Unsurprisingly, during her interview with NPR Wilson’s name never came up.

Instead, Perierra complained about Ohio’s “confusing” requirement that viability tests be performed on pre-born babies 20 weeks gestation or older.

“The laws say that we have to do some kind of testing,” Perierra griped to NPR. “They don’t tell us what kind of tests to do, nor do those tests even really mean anything. It’s just another hoop to jump through.”

So instead, Preterm abortionists just made up their own test, reportedly based on fetal age and weight.

Falsifying Fetal Ages?

But evidence obtained by Operation Rescue indicates that Preterm actually may be falsifying fetal ages to avoid having to conduct their spurious viability tests.

Documents in Operation Rescue’s possession indicate that in the case of Lakisha Wilson, ultrasound images and measurements of her baby produced at Preterm dramatically contradicted both a previous ultrasound taken at another facility and the date of her last menstrual period (LMP).

Records show that Wilson received an ultrasound at a facility in Columbus, Ohio, on February 27, 2014, showing Wilson’s baby to be 18 weeks 4 days of age. However, that notation on her Preterm records appeared to have originally been 19.4 weeks, with the 9 being marked over to appear as an 8.

Written on the Preterm records in her own hand was Wilson’s notation that her LMP was October 10, 2013, which would have made her exactly 20 weeks at the time of her first ultrasound on February 27, (closer to the original notation that was written over) and 23 weeks 1 day at the time of her abortion on March 21, 2014.

Preterm’s one and only ultrasound examination on March 7, 2014, determined that Wilson was 17 weeks, 4 days pregnant. No other examination was done on her. The conclusion that Wilson was 19 weeks 4 days pregnant at the time of her abortion on March 21 was made simply by adding 2 weeks to her March 7 ultrasound results.

“There is a huge discrepancy between 19 weeks and 23 weeks,” said Newman. “One would think that given the previous ultrasound results and Wilson’s LMP, a closer examination would have been done.”

A fetal viability test, required at 20 weeks and later, was never done by Perierra or anyone else at Preterm.

Accountability More Dangerous?

The NPR article also quotes Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro Choice Ohio, whose office resides on the fourth floor of the Preterm clinic, located at 12000 Shaker Boulevard in Cleveland. Perhaps Copeland was even present that fateful day last March when Lakisha Wilson was wheeled out of Preterm to an awaiting ambulance.

That would certainly make her comments to NPR all the more appalling.

“At no time in history, nowhere around the globe did outlawing abortion mean women stopped having them,” Copeland opines. “What it meant is they became dangerous.”

Not that any abortion could be more dangerous than Wilson’s, which left her 2-year old son motherless.

According to official documents, including abortion records, EMT notes, hospital charts, an autopsy report, and 911 records all in Operation Rescue’s possession, Wilson began to hemorrhage during her abortion on March 21 and her blood pressure began to drop. Instead of stopping the abortion and tending to her patient, Perierra continued the abortion until Wilson went into hemorrhagic shock, suffered cardiac arrest, and stopped breathing.

Records indicate that the abortion began at 10:31 a.m. and that her blood pressure began to drop dramatically eight minutes into the procedure. By 10:50, Wilson suffered cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. CPR was started and she was shocked once, but those efforts were not successful at restarting her heart or respiration. Nine minutes later, a 911 call for help was placed.

Emergency 911 records show that Wilson still wasn’t breathing at 10:59 a.m., the official time the call was made.

Further notations made by EMS indicated that responders were delayed in reaching the patient due to a malfunctioning elevator.

Preterm operates five procedure rooms – all on the third floor of their facility. The only way for a gurney to access that floor is through the use of a small elevator.

When EMTs finally reached Wilson, they noted that she was still lying on the abortion table with her legs in the stirrups while staff members futilely continued CPR on Wilson’s lifeless body. EMTs removed the pediatric-sized oxygen mask that Pererria had used on Wilson, and replaced it with an adult-sized one.

Cramped, Malfunctioning Elevator

Adding to Wilson’s abortion nightmare was the fact that they gurney would not fit into Preterm’s sporadically-functioning elevator in the flat, supine position. This meant that EMTs could not intubate Wilson to fully open her airways when they finally got to her, because that procedure required Wilson to be lying flat. Instead, she had to be placed on the gurney in the seated position, transported to the first floor inside the cramped elevator, then rushed to the ambulance – all before could be intubated.

Compounding the tragedy of this untenable situation, 911 documentation from a previous medical emergency at Preterm on March 31, 2012, indicates that emergency help was delayed for a patient weighing approximately 300 pounds who hemorrhaged during an abortion. Because the elevator was broken, extra help had to be called and emergency responders had to carry her down three flights of stairs.

“It is clear that the Ohio Department of Health was aware of the serious hazards posed by Preterm’s elevator that is far too small and far too undependable. The fact that the Department of Health has repeatedly ignored this danger represents a regulatory failure. Women are literally gambling their lives on whether or not that elevator will work, and no one should have to be put into that situation. The Department of Health simply hadn’t done it’s job where Preterm is concerned,” said Newman.

Yet, the NPR article places more emphasis on how closures will lead to unsafe abortions, than on the fact that Ohio abortion clinics are already unsafe.

Biggest Concern?

“My biggest concern is that there’s going to be a young woman who dies from trying to self-abort,” said Jennifer Branch a pro-abortion civil rights attorney from Cincinnati, who was addressing her fears about what might happen if more abortion clinic close. “And that’s what it’s going to take to galvanize people.”

Apparently, Branch considers Wilson’s death by “legal” abortion at an under-accountable Ohio abortion facility something to be ignored.

“Ms. Branch’s comments are a cruel insult to Lakisha Wilson’s grieving family and she owes them an apology for treating them as if the loss of their loved one was meaningless. If she really cared about the lives of women, she would join us in trying to shut down Preterm’s deadly abortion operation,’ said Newman.

The death of Lakisha Wilson is a stunning indictment of the abortion lobby in Ohio, who feign concern for the lives of women but actively deny responsibility or even cover it up when women die at their own shoddy facilities.

And what of the death of Lakisha Wilson? Did the loss of this 22-year old woman “galvanize” the public to demand change that will protect vulnerable pregnant women from exploitation at the hands of the abortion cartel?

Far from it.

The Ohio Medical Board was the first to declare that no patient care standards were breached. Then came the Ohio Department of Health, which claimed that all complaints concerning Wilson’s deaths were unfounded. Now comes the silence of the State Attorney’s office that doesn’t seem to think that Black lives matter – at least not those lost at Ohio’s abortion clinics. So far, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has refused to even investigate Wilson’s death as requested by national and state pro-life leaders.

Differing Approaches

Mike Gonidakis of Ohio Right to Life told NPR that his group has been successful at pushing forward pro-life legislation “because he doesn’t push too far.”

But Operation Rescue’s Newman holds a slightly different philosophy.

“While we appreciate Ohio Right to Life and the pro-life laws that are on the books in Ohio, we have to push harder to make sure that women like Lakisha Wilson and her viable baby don’t continue to die from unsafe abortions and regulatory apathy,” Newman continued, “As long as women and their babies are at risk at Ohio’s abortion clinics, we must press hard with abandon for laws and even prosecutions that will put these abusers out of business.”

Last Time

In a sad post script, abortion forms obtained by Operation Rescue show that Wilson experienced a range of emotions prior to her tragic abortion. She felt confident and relieved by her decision, but also ashamed.

When asked, “What are your thoughts today about ending this pregnancy?” Wilson replied prophetically, “Last time.”

Too bad NPR didn’t include Wilson’s death from abortion in its story. Perhaps then more would understand that the truth of the matter: when abortion clinics are under-regulated or when abortion laws are not enforced, women like Lakisha Wilson die. There is a desperate need for abortion laws, accountability, and aggressive enforcement in order to save their lives and those of their babies.

The full NPR report, “Abortion Restrictions Complicate Access For Ohio Women”

Pro-Life Leaders Call for Criminal Investigation into Cleveland Abortion Death in Light of New Evidence

By Cheryl Sullenger

Cleveland, OH – Operation Rescue has received credible new evidence, apparently leaked from an inside source, that criminal conduct may have been involved in the abortion-related death of Lakisha Wilson at Preterm, a Cleveland, Ohio, abortion facility last year.

Operation Rescue has joined once again with other state and national pro-life leaders in calling for a criminal investigation and closure of the abortion facility.

“The credibility of the evidence is beyond reproach,” said Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue. “It was unsolicited evidence provided to me by an unknown source who obviously wants the truth to come out. Once this information came to our attention, it was our duty to report it to the County Prosecutor.”

A letter of complaint was sent to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty on January 16, 2015, by the following pro-life leaders:

• Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue
• Day Gardner, National Black Pro-Life Union
• Denise Leipold, Right to Life of Northeast Ohio
• Molly Smith, Cleveland Right to Life
• Denver Sallee, Lake County Right to Life
• Pastor Walter Moss, National Black Pro-Life Coalition

Copies to the letter were sent to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine, and Executive Director of the Ohio Department of Health Richard Hodges.

The groups are calling for an immediate suspension of Preterm’s facility license pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

The letter focused on two allegations supported by documentation now in the possession of Operation Rescue:

Criminal negligence, related to a small and repeatedly malfunctioning elevator at Preterm, which delayed emergency access and treatment to Ms. Wilson.
Illegal abortion, related to evidence that Ms. Wilson’s pregnancy was well beyond Ohio’s 20 week limit.

Due to the sensitivity of the evidence that supports the complaint, Operation Rescue will only release it to designated law enforcement officials.

Faulty Elevator

Preterm operates five abortion procedure rooms on the third floor of their facility located at 12000 Shaker Boulevard in Cleveland. The only gurney access is through a small elevator that was malfunctioning on March 21, 2014, the day of Lakisha Wilson’s fatal abortion.

The new evidence shows that emergency medical technicians were delayed by the malfunction from reaching Ms. Wilson, who was suffering cardiac and respiratory arrest during a second-trimester abortion procedure.

When EMTs were finally able to access Ms. Wilson, they found her still on the abortion table with her legs in the stirrups. She was not breathing at all and her pupils were fixed and dilated. According to the documentation, Preterm abortionist Lisa Perriera had applied a pediatric oxygen mask to Ms. Wilson, which had to be replace by an adult-sized mask by emergency responders. Ms. Wilson’s IV line had been inadvertently pulled out during the confusion in the cramped surgical room prior to the arrival of ambulance personnel.

While EMTs were able to restart Ms. Wilson’s heart, they were unable to give her other necessary life support measures in a timely manner — including intubation — because in order to do so, they needed to lie her flat on a backboard. However, the inadequate size of the elevator prevented the EMTs from fully reclining the gurney as required.

Instead, Ms. Wilson was transported down the elevator in an upright, seated position. She was then rushed to an awaiting ambulance where she was finally intubated and her IV line restarted before being rushed off to University Hospital Case Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead.

“There can be no doubt that the size and unreliability of Preterm’s elevator was responsible for delaying emergency care to Lakisha Wilson when every moment meant the difference between life and death,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.

This was not the first time that Preterm’s elevator played a role in hampering emergency medical care for an abortion patient suffering from life-threatening complications.

Operation Rescue obtained 911 records that indicated on March 31, 2012, an ambulance was called for a 32-year old patient weighing approximately 300 pounds who was hemorrhaging after an abortion due to uterine atony, a condition in which the uterus fails to contract enough to seal off blood vessels after an abortion. The woman’s estimated blood loss was 600 cc’s, or in American measures, over 20 ounces.

However, the facility’s elevator was broken and the Preterm caller had to request additional responders to help carry the woman down from third floor in order to extricate her from the building so she could get the emergency help she needed.

“Women’s lives literally depend on Preterm’s faulty elevator that is just too small to ensure that proper care can be given during life-threatening medical emergencies. It is negligent for Preterm to conduct abortions under these dangerous conditions,” said Newman. “We also have to question why the Ohio Department of Health continues to allow Preterm to do abortions, knowing that the elevator is undependable and inadequate to allow proper access during the frequent medical emergencies that arise there. It seems irresponsible at best and possibly negligent on their part.”

Illegal Late-term Abortion

The second concern expressed by the pro-life leader’s letter of complaint relates to the possibility that Ms. Wilson’s pregnancy, said by Preterm to be 19.4 weeks at the time of the abortion, was actually closer to 23 weeks – three weeks beyond the legal limit in Ohio. Despite the evidence that Ms. Wilson’s pregnancy was so far advanced, Preterm abortionists conducted no viability testing as required by law.

“We are aware that a person conducting an ultrasound can manipulate the transducer to make the baby appear to be younger or older, depending on the desired outcome. We have reason to believe that there was manipulation of the ultrasound results to make it wrongly appear that Ms. Wilson’s abortion was legal,” said Newman.

Such manipulation of ultrasound results was testified to in court by one of Kermit Gosnell’s co-defendants, Steven Massof, during Gosnell’s illegal abortion and murder trial in 2013, which as attended and reported on by Operation Rescue. Massof told the court under oath that falsification of fetal ages via ultrasound manipulation was routinely done at Gosnell’s abortion clinic. Gosnell was convicted of killing babies born alive during illegal late-term abortions at what has become known as his Philadelphia “House of Horrors” and is serving life in prison.

In addition, Operation Rescue conducted an undercover investigation in January, 2009, at George Tiller’s now-closed late-term abortion facility in Wichita, Kansas, that documented ultrasonic manipulation by a Tiller employee, which rendered a false fetal age on a pregnant Operation Rescue undercover volunteer. Operation Rescue had the actual age of the volunteer’s pregnancy confirmed by two independent ultrasound exams done by reputable providers.

Evidence Ignored

The evidence points to the fact that the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Medical Board are aware of the dangerous conditions at Preterm and of the fetal age discrepancies, but chose to ignore them.

Investigations conducted by both agencies at the behest of the pro-life groups went nowhere. The cases related to Lakisha Wilson’s death were quietly closed without action, leaving women vulnerable to possible illegal late-term abortions, and at grave risk due to a dangerously small and frequently malfunctioning elevator at Preterm.

Other calls for a criminal investigation have been ignored by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. A previous letter of complaint related to the Wilson death was submitted to Prosecutor McGinty by Denise Leipold, Executive Director of Right to Life of Northeast Ohio, in July of last year. Leipold never received an acknowledgement or response to her complaint.

Groups involved in the current attempt to gain a criminal investigation and prosecution hope this time, things will be different due to the supporting evidence that was sent to Sullenger.

“Based on the evidence now in our possession, it seems unconscionable that the Ohio Department of Health and Medical Board have allowed Preterm to continue to operate knowing that the lives of women and late-term pre-born babies that should be protected by law are being endangered every day at that abortion facility,” said Newman. “It’s just plain wrong, and now that we know the truth, we are attempting to rectify this intolerable situation and bring those responsible for these violations to justice.”

Background:

Wilson’s Autopsy Report
Press Conference from April 2, 2014
Pattern of Botched Abortions at Preterm
Cleveland’s University Hospital Enables Abortions
Buffett Foundation Tied to Preterm

Planned Parenthood Abortionist Deceptively Omitted Patient Death on Indiana License Application

Operation Rescue has filed a complaint calling for Mandy Gittler’s Indiana license revocation for failing to report a malpractice settlement related to the 2012 death of Tonya Reaves.

By Cheryl Sullenger

Indianapolis, IN – Mandy Gittler has something to hide.

On July 20, 2012, she reported to work as usual at a Chicago Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. But what happened next was anything but routine.

That day, Gittler fatally botched a second trimester abortion on a young African-American woman named Tonya Reaves. While Reaves’ life ebbed away, Gittler delayed her transport to the hospital for 5½ hours. By then it was too late. Reaves died from internal injuries that had been inflicted upon her by Gittler during two consecutive incomplete abortion procedures that ruptured her uterus and caused internal hemorrhaging.

Reaves’ family sued and on January 24, 2014, they settled their malpractice case with Gittler’s employer, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, for the significant amount of $2 million, most of which will be paid to Reaves’ surviving young son, Alvin Jones, III, throughout his life.

That incident is certainly not the kind of thing that an abortionist wants on his or her resume.

Later, Gittler shut down her private Chicago abortion facility and took her abortion act on the road, hiring on at a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and an independent abortion facility in Peoria, Illinois.

It appeared that her professional career had survived the Reaves abortion/death scandal and was moving on as a “circuit-riding” abortionist.

Then on September 3, 2014, Gittler submitted an application to obtain a medical license in Indiana, which was granted on November 7.

When Operation Rescue received a copy of Gittler’s Indiana application, one answer jumped out.

Next to a question that asked whether she had ever had a malpractice judgment against her or settled any malpractice action, Gittler had marked the box indicating “no.”

There was no mention of Tonya Reaves, her tragic and avoidable death, or the malpractice suit that clearly named Gittler as a defendant – and not a word about the $2 million settlement for her fatal acts that “deviated from the standard of care.”

Last week, Operation Rescue filed a complaint against Gittler with the Indiana Attorney General for violations of the Indiana Administrative Code, which states regarding license applications, “All information on the application shall be submitted under oath or affirmation, subject to the penalties for perjury.”

It is clear from the documentation Operation Rescue included with its complaint that Gittler was the primary person responsible for Reaves’ death and that Planned Parenthood agreed to pay because there was simply no defense for Gittler’s negligence.

Operation Rescue’s complaint narrative connects the dots from one court document to another and discusses a letter from the plaintiff’s expert witness that places the blame for Reaves’ death squarely on Gittler’s shoulders.

Filed with the Jones v. Planned Parenthood complaint documents, a redacted medical opinion dated September 28, 2012, can be found. . . That letter is purportedly written by a physician who is board certified in Obstetrics/Gynecology who is familiar with abortion procedures.

The letter notes that Mandy Gittler performed a dilation and evacuation abortion on Tonya Reaves on July 20, 2012, at a Planned Parenthood of Illinois office without the use of ultrasound guidance. After the procedure, Reaves experienced excessive bleeding and another dilation and evacuation procedure was performed by Gittler. The reviewing physician stated that Gittler “did not timely recognize that the patient needed to be transferred to a hospital for care and treatment, which resulted in a delay in her receiving care and treatment that she needed.” Reaves died as a result.

The letter further notes that each procedure done by Gittler and her delay in sending her patient to the hospital each represented deviations in the standard of care and concludes that if the deviations had not occurred, Reaves would have survived.

Gittler submitted to a sworn deposition in Jones v. Planned Parenthood on August 22, 2013, wherein she admits having conducted two dilation and evacuation abortion procedures on Reaves on July 20, 2012, at a Planned Parenthood of Illinois office. . . She further admits to a timeline that showed Reaves was not transported to a hospital for 5 ½ hours after Reaves’ first procedure and the onset of excessive bleeding.

It was soon after Gittler’s deposition, in which she shamelessly attempted to blame Reaves’ death on a non-existent uterine deformity, that her employer, Planned Parenthood of Illinios, settled the malpractice suit. Gittler left them with nothing to defend. Her negligence was obvious.

“It is our position that Gittler intentionally concealed information about Reaves’ death and the ensuing malpractice suit and settlement from the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “We are asking for her medical license to be rescinded or revoked because deception was used to obtain it.”

If the Indiana Attorney General’s office finds that Gittler committed perjury, she could be criminally charged.

“We cannot stand idly by while Gittler acts like Tonya Reaves’ death never happened. It was extremely disappointing when the Illinois medical board decided to place the lives of other women at risk by excusing Gittler of responsibility for taking Tonya’s life,” said Newman. “If Indiana decides to act, it won’t be perfect justice, but it will be something. Tonya deserves at least that.”

Read the Complaint Narrative, with links to documentation.