Attorney General emphasizes that Brigham committed multiple violations “in the context of alleged acts of dishonesty and deception.”
By Cheryl Sullenger
Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey Attorney General’s office filed a forceful response on Friday to a motion to dismiss the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners case against the notorious abortionist Steven Chase Brigham. Issues raised by Brigham and the New Jersey Attorney General’s office will be considered during oral arguments, which have been scheduled for October 13, 2010.
Brigham’s New Jersey medical license has been suspended based on allegations that he illegally began abortions well beyond the 14 week limit in New Jersey and completed them or helped to complete them at a secret abortion mill in Elkton, Maryland, where he is not licensed to practice medicine. Brigham’s late-term abortion scheme was discovered when a patient suffered a life-threatening complication in Elkton and had to be air-lifted to Johns Hopkins Medical Center for emergency surgery. Two of Brigham’s accomplices, Nicola Riley and George Shepard, Jr. have also had their Maryland medical licenses suspended for aiding and abetting Brigham’s illegal late-term abortion scheme and other violations.
Brigham filed a 223-page motion to dismiss with numerous exhibits on October 7, 2010. At issue is Brigham’s contention that the allegations in the Board’s current case against him were already decided in his favor in 1996 and reaffirmed in 1999, therefore the Board has no further authority to discipline him.
The 1996 New Jersey case referred to by Brigham was based in part on the 1994 New York case that resulted in the revocation of his medical license in that state. It detailed case after case of botched abortions and other miseries, describing what amounted to a shop of horrors operated by Brigham that also crossed state lines. Brigham would insert laminaria in late-term patients at his office in Voorhees, New Jersey, then transport the women to New York for completion of their abortions.
Brigham’s appalling conduct was enough for New York to revoke his medical license. However, New Jersey Administrative Law Judge Joseph F. Fidler, relying heavily on testimony from other notorious abortionists who submitted affidavits on behalf of Brigham, shockingly dismissed every charge against him, with the exception of dishonesty for advertising that his abortions were “safe” and “painless.”
In 1999, Judith I. Gleason, executive Director of the State Board of Medical Examiners issued a letter at the request of an attorney representing unnamed abortionists stating that “there would appear to be no problem with regard to the insertion of laminaria prefatory to a termination of pregnancy whether in an office setting or in a licensed ambulatory care facility.”
Brigham argues that this settled the matter for good and that the Board has no right to return to the issue of laminaria insertion after 14 weeks at his unapproved facility. Judge Fidler’s ruling and the Board’s letter are viewed as if Brigham has been provided with unlimited prosecutorial immunity.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s office sees it another way. Its response to Brigham’s most recent motion to dismiss stated that Judge Fidler’s findings “did not, and could not, establish a standard of care for decades to come” and only applied to the case before him. It describes how Brigham’s recent actions have gone well beyond simple laminaria insertion to actually initiating abortions for which he is unqualified and/or are illegal in New Jersey.
“The 1996 Order of the Board does not accord [Brigham] free rein to engage in the violative acts alleged by the Attorney General,” the brief read in part.
Brigham again submitted testimony in his defense from fellow abortionist Gary L. Mucciolo of New York, who suggests that Brigham never violated the standard of care in committing illegal abortion in Maryland, or his handling of abortions that landed at least two patients in the emergency room.
Mucciolo also submitted similar testimony in the 1994 New York case in support of Brigham, but at that time the New York authorities disagreed with his glowing endorsement of Brigham’s quackery, and opted to revoke.
“This is a case of one shady abortionist protecting another, said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
While no evidence of discipline against Mucciolo could be found, on-line patient reviews were often less than glowing. One of his patients stated that she had been exposed to chicken pox when she was just four weeks pregnant. Her original doctor ran tests and told her there should be no problem with the baby. She was referred to Mucciolo for delivery. After being treated with indifference at her first appointment, Mucciolo was shocked to hear that she had chicken pox during her pregnancy, even though it was in the chart and the patient had told him twice about it. He recommended abortion at 24 weeks and told her to go out of the country for one.
“I left the office in tears. Because of insurance restrictions, I was stuck with him. He delivered my darling, perfect daughter. I hope never to see him again as long as I live,” she said.
Another of Mucciolo’s patients complained that he was consistently late for appointments and once lost her results from a cervical biopsy ordered after an irregular pap smear. Then without the results, Mucciolo pronounced that she did not have cancer and not to worry about it.
“This is after 5 years of being a patient. I don’t think he even referred to my chart in advance of appointment as he seemed to remember nothing about my background,” she said. “This was hands down my worst experience with a doctor.”
“It can only be hoped that the New Jersey Board will not swayed by Mucciolo’s dubious endorsement of Brigham’s questionable skills,” said Newman. “The transcripts and records in this case speak for themselves. Brigham is not fit to practice in New Jersey or anywhere else. The fact that he has surrendered his license or been revoked in five states, and been ordered to cease and desist in the unlicensed practice of medicine in a sixth state should be a huge indicator of his incompetence.”
The New Jersey Attorney General’s office makes several salient points in response to Brigham’s motion to dismiss.
• The current case against Brigham is a new one based on completely different facts, circumstances, and patient records than the 1996 case. It in no way revisits the 1996 decision. It was Brigham’s “dangerous and irresponsible treatment of his patients,” especially patient D.B. that brought the latest matter to the attention of the Board.
• The 1999 correspondence that indicates laminaria insertion is acceptable in an office setting does not apply to the current case since Brigham went far beyond laminaria insertion by injecting digoxin to cause fetal demise and administering Misoprostol to cause the onset of contractions, which constitutes the initiation of the abortion process.
• New Jersey requires special certification to do abortions past 18 weeks. Brigham not only lacks the certification, but he cannot qualify for it because he lacks the prerequisite certification as an ObGyn. Nevertheless, Brigham continues to initiate abortions as late as 36 weeks gestation in his New Jersey office in violation of the law.
• Judge Fidler’s 1994 ruling “did not relieve [Brigham] of the burden of exercising good medical judgment or the obligation to play by the rules.”
“The Attorney General has now alleged multiple violations of the Board’s regulation and multiple deviations from accepted standards of good medical care, in the context of alleged acts of dishonesty and deception. The Board cannot and should not be stopped from considering whether [Brigham’s] latest conduct was violative of the law,” the brief concluded.
“If the crimes alleged in this complaint against Brigham are not enough to revoke his medical license in New Jersey, then God help us all. There is no protection from the dishonest exploitation of the public by quacks and charlatans,” said Newman. “This man has run amok for almost three decades. Like the snake oil salesmen of old, once his ineptitude is discovered, he moves on to the next state to begin his pitch among a new flock of sheep to be sheared. This time, we pray the Board acts justly to revoke Brigham’s medical license and that both New Jersey and Maryland will work to file criminal charges that demand extensive jail time. Incarceration is the only way to stop him jumping over to the next state and continuing to prey on the vulnerable as has been his habit for his entire career. The authorities have a responsibility to stop it here and now.”