Court Records Indicate Nearly 1,000 Abortion Patients Likely Hospitalized Annually in Texas

By Cheryl Sullenger

Austin, TX – A decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the State of Texas to enforce a controversial abortion law passed last year reveals that abortion complications that require emergency hospitalization are higher than thought, and raise the concerns that the true number of serious abortion-related injuries and maternal deaths are being kept from the public.

“Information in this decision has forced us to crunch the numbers,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “Our calculations based on conservative estimates indicates that nearly 1,000 women might very well be hospitalized each year in Texas alone. That number is completely unacceptable.”

The appeals decision issued on March 27, 2014, reveals troubling information that was submitted in the form of sworn testimony during a challenge to the constitutionality of HB 2, a sweeping abortion law that requires abortionists to maintain hospital privileges within 30 miles of their abortion clinics and follow protocols set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for administering the abortion pill, mifepristone, also known as RU-486.

According to the ruling:

During these proceedings, Planned Parenthood conceded that at least 210 women in Texas annually must be hospitalized after seeking an abortion. Witnesses for both sides further testified that some of the women who are hospitalized after an abortion have complications that require an Ob/Gyn specialist’s treatment.

That number was based on information provided by Planned Parenthood’s expert witness, abortionist Paul Fine, who serves as Medical Director of the organization’s mammoth Houston abortion clinic where Operation Rescue has documented three medical emergencies in the past year.

38-Year Old Complication Rate

Fine referred to studies that show “only 2.5 percent of women who have a first-trimester surgical abortion undergo minor complications while fewer than 0.3 percent experience a complication that requires hospitalization.” Calculations related to abortion patient hospitalizations were made from abortion numbers provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) showing that 70,003 abortions were done on Texas residents in 2011.

However, expert witness Dr. John Thorp told the court that the 0.3% hospitalization estimate “is based on data that is thirty-eight years old.” He also indicated that abortion complications are notoriously underreported and that only one-third to one-half of all abortion patients return for follow-up visits where complications could be reported to clinic staff.

In addition, in many states, abortionists are simply not required to report abortion complications. The underreporting means that the percentage of women actually suffering surgical abortion complications is much higher.

The number suggested by Planned Parenthood of “at least 210 women” who were hospitalized due to abortion complications was not based on any actual reporting. Instead, it appears to have been calculated using 2011 state abortion numbers with Fine’s 0.3% hospitalization rate, and assumes that all of the 70,003 abortions done on Texas residents in 2011 were first trimester surgical procedures, an assumption that is completely inaccurate.

Medication Abortions

Numbers obtained from the DSHS indicate that in 2011, 26 percent of all abortions on Texas women were done using the abortion pill. The court documents reveal testimony indicating that a full six percent of women who obtain medication abortions using the abortion pill require surgical abortions due to failure of the abortion pill process.

Based on those numbers, there would actually have been approximately 1,089 cases where women required surgical intervention following medication abortions.

Hospital Referral Policy

How many of those were actually hospitalized? Additional testimony in the Appeals Court decision gives some indication that the numbers could be in the hundreds.

The ruling revealed that many Texas abortionists “have virtually no history of hospital admissions since the experts presented by the plaintiffs argued that it is the practice of many abortion physicians to instruct their patients to seek care from an emergency room if complications arise.”

Planned Parenthood’s abortionist Fine even testified that “the appropriate course of action” in the event of abortion-related complications “would be to refer the woman to a nearby emergency room.”

In view of this policy, if a conservative estimate of just 50% of Texas women suffering from medication abortion complications requiring surgical intervention went to the hospital for treatment instead of the abortion clinic, it would represent 544 women.

Riskier Second Trimester D & E

Also, second trimester Dilation and Evacuation abortions that have higher risk factors were done on 4,233 Texas women. While hospitalization figures for these women were not discussed in the court documents, if we conservatively estimate that the percentage of women hospitalized due to complications from these riskier abortions is six percent, the number of women hospitalized would be at least 254.

In total, an estimate of the number of Texas women hospitalized due to abortion complications would be closer to 1,000, even using the abortion industry’s “low-ball” figure of 0.3% complication rate for first trimester surgical abortions and very conservative second trimester estimates.

Disingenuous Attribution of Complications

To make matters worse, complications experienced by women who report directly to emergency rooms are not attributable as a complication for any particular abortion provider. Thus, the abortionist appears to the public as having a better safety record than he actually does.

Maternal Deaths Concealed

While the vital statistics kept by the DSHS indicated no women died in Texas in 2011 from abortion-related complications, there is reason to believe that abortion clinics are simply not reporting deaths of women who are pronounced dead at local hospitals.

“Suppose a woman suffered a fatal abortion complication at a Texas abortion clinic. If the clinic called for emergency medical assistance and the patient was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, the abortion clinic would not report that death as one that occurred at the abortion clinic,” said Newman. “That’s exactly how abortion deaths get covered up and swept under the rug.”

Statistics on abortion-related maternal deaths remain unreliable due to this practice, which is common throughout the U.S., and due to the fact that often, the deaths are classified as something other than abortion related.

In fact, most incidents of abortion death are only made public when pro-life activists happen to be on site at abortion clinics when ambulances are called.

Such was the case with 2005 death of Christin Gilbert in Wichita, Kansas; the 2013 death of Jennifer Morbelli in Germantown, Maryland; and the death of Lakisha Wilson in Cleveland, Ohio, just last month.

Other known deaths from abortions have only been discovered when pro-life activists research documents such as clinic inspection reports, as in the 2013 case of Maria Santiago, who died at a Baltimore “clinic” owned by the notorious Steven Chase Brigham, which was located in a residential condominium.

“It is likely that women are dying from abortions obtained at Texas abortion clinics, but that those incidents will never be made public because the deaths were attributed to the hospital or some other cause of death – such as cardiac arrest, for instance,” said Newman. “It’s true that people die when their hearts stop, but what isn’t mentioned in many cases involving abortion is the part abortion played in causing the hearts to stop.”

Tens of Thousands

If we apply the information about abortion complications found in the Texas court records to the rest of the country, it is likely that tens of thousands of women are landing in hospital emergency rooms yearly unbeknownst to the public.

Overall in the U.S., there is a dangerous lack of current, accurate data on abortion numbers, complications, hospitalizations and deaths that lead to rough “guesstimates” based on dubious numbers that are decades old. This contributes to an inaccurate picture of abortion safety in America, as the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision shows.

Operation Rescue calls for states to continue to pass local hospital privilege requirements to protect women from shoddy abortion practices. In addition, states need to pass laws that require detailed reporting regarding abortion complications that will ensure such complications are not misattributed to hospitals where botched abortion patients are ultimately treated.

“The court found that requiring hospital privileges for abortionists within 30 miles of their abortion businesses means that women will actually be safer because hospitals require standards that weed out the most dangerous and incompetent abortionists,” said Newman. “The truth is that thousands of women in this country every year suffer needlessly from abortion complications because states do not require abortionists to meet standards required to ensure patient safety. The information in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is a wake-up call to every state. Requiring local hospital privileges is a way to protect women and save lives until such time as the practice of abortion can be completely abolished. This requirement should be passed in every state.”

View the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision No. 13-51008

Troubled Maryland Abortionist Receives Only a 3-Month Suspension for Operating an Unlicensed Facility, Egregious Behavior

Offenses included using the dangerous, outdated Saline abortion method on a patient who then suffered an “explosive, unattended delivery.”

By Cheryl Sullenger

Forestville, Maryland – Maryland abortionist Harold O. Alexander has once again had his medical license suspended for three months, according to a consent order issued by the Maryland Board of Physicians (MDBP) on April 16, 2014. The suspension is Alexander’s second in two years and is related to his operation of an illegal unlicensed abortion facility. He will also have to serve three years of probation.

The Board found Alexander was found guilty of “unprofessional conduct” and violating a previous consent order. The first year of his probation, Alexander is barred from the solo practice of medicine and must only work under the supervision of a Board-approved physician, who must file monthly reports on Alexander’s medical practices with a disciplinary panel of the MDBP.

“The fact that Alexander will be back in business in three months is ludicrous. This man has proved again and again that he is not fit to practice medicine and has no regard for the laws and regulations that govern the practice of medicine in Maryland, much less the safety of his patients,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.

Operation Rescue has complained about Alexander’s shoddy abortion practices several times and was the first to make the formal accusation that he was conducting an illicit abortion business in an unlicensed facility.

2011 Late-term abortion scheme

In 2011, Operation Rescue discovered that Alexander was involved in a shady late-term abortion scheme with disgraced Florida abortionist James Scott Pendergraft, IV. Alexander’s Integrated Ob/Gyn abortion clinic in Forestville, Maryland, acted as a secret late-term abortion location for patients of Pendergraft’s seeking extreme late-term abortions that are illegal elsewhere. Even though Pendergraft never held a license to practice in Maryland, he offered to in inject the lethal drug digoxin into the preborn babies’ hearts for a hefty fee that was to be wired directly into Pendergraft’s Florida bank account.

Operation Rescue filed a complaint against Alexander for his part in Pendergraft’s dangerous bi-state abortion racket. When the MDBP subpoenaed medical records related to his business with Pendergraft, Alexander reported that he had shredded the records.

2012 Suspension

On August 22, 2012, the MDBP found that Alexander had committed unprofessional conduct when he shredded the medical records engaged in a host of abuses including sexual boundary violations, multiple botched abortions, shoddy or non-existent record keeping, and the illegal prescribing of large amounts of Viagra and other drugs to himself and non-patients.

That 2012 order placed Alexander on a three-month suspension and two years of probation.

In fact, Alexander was on probation when the MDBP confirmed through their own investigation that Alexander was operating an abortion clinic without a license to do so.

Unlicensed abortion facility

Last June, Operation Rescue urged the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality to close Alexander’s Integrated OB/GYN abortion clinic in Forestville after publishing an exposé documenting the fact that Alexander was conducting an illegal surgical abortion operation out of an unlicensed abortion facility in violation of Maryland regulations.

Four months later, on October 21, 2013, the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ) conducted an inspection of Alexander’s abortion facility and discovered that in fact Alexander had in fact failed to obtain either an abortion facility license or hospital privileges as required by law, according to the newly-released MDBP documents.

That inspection also found additional disturbing admissions and violations.

150 illegal abortions

While being interviewed under oath by the OHCQ, Alexander admitted that he had performed approximately 150 abortions at his unlicensed Forestville abortion clinic between June and October, 2013.

Those abortions were done illegally and under dangerous conditions that risked the lives of his patients.

Alexander admitted and his employees confirmed that he had no registered nurse on staff as required by law.

Unqualified workers sedate patients

Alexander employed only two workers, neither of which were licensed or qualified to perform medical duties. Nevertheless, Alexander instructed one of them to administer sedation to patients even though they were unqualified to do so. One of his employees, who was only hired in June and had no formal medical training whatsoever, became his surgical assistant. His only other employee, who was hired as a receptionist, also assisted in patient care – if you can call it that.

In the ten abortion records reviewed by inspectors, they found that patients’ vital signs were taken once prior to surgical abortions and were never taken after the abortion. Women were left unattended and unmonitored during recovery with the exception of a pulse-oximetry meter attached to the patients’ fingers for the first 15 minutes after surgery.

Patient B’s dangerously outdated saline abortion

One of the records indicated that a woman referred to as “Patient B” underwent an outdated “saline with cytotec instillation for a mid-term abortion” and suffered “curettage following an explosive, unattended delivery.”

Saline abortions fell out of favor years ago due to high risks of complication and death for the mothers and was first replaced by the now-banned Partial Birth abortion method. Today, most late-second and third trimester abortions are done using the Induction abortion method perfected by George Tiller.

Cytotec was developed as drug to treat ulcers, but is frequently used by abortionists because it induces uterine contractions. The drug’s manufacturer has issued warnings not to use Cytotec during abortions because it causes unpredictable and sometimes violent contractions, which could have accounted for Patient B’s “explosive” delivery of her dead child, alone and unattended.

No medical records

In addition to Patient B’s horrific experience, inspectors found that Alexander continued to keep inadequate medical records, a substandard practice that contributed to his 2012 license suspension. In fact, when the inspectors requested to review medical records for two abortion patients seen by Alexander the previous week, he could not remember their names and could provide no medical records whatsoever for the two women.

Violations found by the OHCQ were so egregious that it lodged a complaint against Alexander with the MDBP.

Cease and Desist

On October 25, 2013, the MDBP issued a Cease and Desist Order against Alexander, barring him from doing surgical abortions or administering certain drugs, including sedation.

However, on December 19, 2013, the Board modified its cease and desist order and allowed Alexander to resume providing surgical abortions as long as he did them only at licensed facilities and prescribed drugs in a manner consistent with DEA regulations.

“The Board’s decision to allow Alexander to resume surgical abortions in light of the fact that he routinely employed practices that showed a complete disregard for the lives and safety of his patients was more than curious. It was appalling,” said Newman. “It was hard to believe that the Board would willingly place the lives of women in this quack’s incompetent hands. Yet, we knew he faced an upcoming disciplinary hearing and fully expected his medical license to be revoked.”

Civil judgement

Also contributing to the hope that Alexander would soon be barred from the practice of medicine was a million-dollar civil judgment levied against him in 2013, which was reduced by a judge in March to the still-significant amount of $650,000. A jury found that Alexander was negligent in the case of Shannon Hall, a 21-year old college student who went to Alexander in 2008 for an abortion of what she was told was a 10-12 week pregnancy.

Instead, Alexander failed to diagnose the fact that Hall suffered from a molar pregnancy that later invaded her lungs and turned cancerous, requiring extensive treatment. As the result of Alexander’s negligence, Shannon Hall will never have children and will suffer health effects for the rest of her life.

Negotiated agreement

However, yesterday, the MDBP released Alexander’s new suspension order that noted Alexander’s discipline was agreed upon after the Board conducted negotiations with him, which will allow him to be back inside an abortion clinic in three short months.

“While we are grateful that disciplinary action was taken, we are disappointed and upset that the discipline is woefully inadequate and only ensures that women will continue to be subjected to Alexander’s shoddy and dangerous abortion practices,” said Newman. “We have to wonder what it takes to get this incompetent man’s license revoked after all the harm he has caused.”

Pro-abortion political agenda?

Newman wonders if a pro-abortion political agenda might be at work within the liberal state government. Could the fact that the number of abortionists and abortion facilities continues to decline has somehow contributed to the MDBP’s willingness to put a substandard abortion provider with a documented history of shoddy practices and disdain for the law back on the street?

Newman continued, “It is as if making sure that he is out there doing abortions is more important than the safety of women to these people. Aborting babies appears to trump women’s lives, and that is a betrayal of the trust the people place in medical boards who have a duty to protect the public and leave political ideology out of it.”

Operation Rescue vows to continue monitoring Alexander for future abuses.

“I have a feeling that the Maryland Board of Physicians hasn’t heard the last of us or of Alexander,” said Newman. “It’s just too bad that more women will have to suffer before the Board finally does the right thing and completely bans him from the practice of medicine.”

Buffett Foundation Tied to Cleveland Abortion Clinic Where Woman Died

By Cheryl Sullenger

Cleveland, OH – Operation Rescue has uncovered links between the Cleveland abortion clinic, Preterm, where a 22-year old African-American woman suffered a fatal abortion last month, and a foundation managed by the Warren Buffett family. This connection raises concerns that third-world-style abortion practices are being taught to hospital residents that will further endanger the lives of poor urban women of color.

On March 21, 2014, Lakisha Wilson was “not breathing at all” when she was transported by ambulance to the University Hospital Chase Medical Center where she was pronounced dead after suffering late-term abortion complications at Preterm.

Preterm, a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation, became the official training site for the University Hospital Chase Medical Center Ryan Residency Program in Abortion and Family Planning in 2011, according to Preterm’s 2011 Annual Report. University Hospital is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University, which is listed on the Ryan Residency Program’s website as a program location.

An article published in the New York Times in 2010 revealed that the Ryan Residency Program is funded by “one foundation and one family,” the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named for the former wife of Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett.

“In a very real way, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation is making sure that substandard abortion practices, such as those that took the life of Lakisha Wilson, are all that are being taught in the U.S. This has the effect of making sure that abortion clinics, especially those like Preterm that target minority communities, offer no better than the dreadful standards akin to those found in third world nations,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.

“We have to wonder if there isn’t a racial component to the Buffett family’s funding of abortion training that is costing the lives of African-American babies and mothers at a rate many times higher than any other racial group.”

The Ryan Residency Program springs from the extremist Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco, the same group that created a “study group” of non-physicians then trained them to do abortions to see if the complication rate went up when abortion were done by the less qualified group. In fact, the non-physician complication rate was found to be twice as high as that of licensed physicians, nevertheless, this study paved the way for the enactment of a radical California state law last year that lowered abortion standards so that non-physicians can now conduct abortions in that state.

In 2010, Preterm, which is located in a predominately Black community in urban Cleveland, added Lisa Perreira to its staff as part of a collaboration with University Hospitals. The addition of Perriera enabled Preterm to expand into the more risky later abortions through 23 weeks of pregnancy even though at that time she had little experience, having been licensed to practice medicine for just one year. Preterm proudly noted that it was now among “less than a quarter of providers [that] offer abortion services beyond 20 weeks.”

Not surprisingly, that year, the number of abortion-related medical emergencies appeared to increase. Local pro-life activists began to document these incidents, including that of a 26-year old Preterm patient that suffered “serious” uncontrolled hemorrhaging. At the time the call was placed to 911, the woman was still under anesthesia and had not regained consciousness.

Just months after Preterm’s official affiliation with the Ryan Residency abortion training program in 2011, another ambulance was called to the abortion facility in early 2012 to care for an overweight high-risk abortion patient suffering from hemorrhaging after an abortion who had to be carried down from the clinic’s third floor due to a broken elevator. The decision to conduct an abortion on a woman with such high risk factors, knowing that emergency responders could not easily reach her in the event of an emergency, reflected poor judgment at best and was more likely an example of gross negligence and reckless endangerment of this woman’s life.

Then last month, Lakisha Wilson died from a late-term abortion at Preterm.

The abortionist who witnesses say followed Wilson’s ambulance to the hospital was 79-year old Mohammad Rezaee, who had been medically trained in 1950′s Iran where standards lagged behind American medical practices.

Operation Rescue has confirmed that two of Rezaee’s children, Roya and Rod Rezaee on staff at University Hospital Chase Medical Center.

“Who was responsible for Wilson’s fatal abortion? Was it Rezaee, as we initially thought, or was it Lisa Perriera, Preterm’s youngest and least experienced late-term ‘specialist’ who was also on duty at Preterm that day? If Perriera conducted the abortion, why did Rezaee go to the hospital? Was it to use his relationships with his son and daughter to keep Wilson’s death quiet? Was one of the Buffett-funded Ryan Program trainees involved? These are all questions that deserve answers,” said Newman.

The fact that Ryan Program abortion students are being trained at a facility with a history of abortion-related life-threatening injuries and death is troubling, especially since the medical complications that have been documented by pro-life activists are likely a small fraction of what actually occur.

“If Preterm’s abortion trainers are engaged in substandard practices that are endangering women, those who are being trained will only perpetuate those dangerous habits,” said Newman. “That does not bode well for vulnerable women who are preyed upon by abortion businesses that are in stiff competition with each other for every abortion dollar and aren’t afraid to cut corners to maintain their profit margins.”

Operation Rescue continues to join with pro-life leaders from around the nation in calling for the closure of Preterm in light of Wilson’s death.

“A young woman and her pre-born baby has died and we do not want anyone else to follow them to an early grave,” said Newman. “The fact that a billionaire’s foundation, a multi-million dollar hospital, and a radical out-of-state abortion program are involved doesn’t diminish the fact that the ‘coat hanger’ abortion groups say they deplore is actually at work in the abortion clinic today. The only way to protect women and their babies is to close the Preterm abortion business for good.”