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Rowan's story

Abortion | Mother tells how clinic workers left her born-alive infant to die

Issue: "John Bolton: Take cover!," May 7, 2005

New details are emerging in the case of Angele, 34, a woman who says she gave birth to a live pre-term baby at a Florida late-term abortion clinic-and that the child died after abortion workers refused to render aid or call for emergency help.

WORLD on April 27 obtained transcripts of 911 tapes, plus fire and police department reports on the incident, which occurred April 2 at the EPOC Clinic, an Orlando abortion business owned by late-term specialist James S. Pendergraft. Those documents verify many aspects of Angele's story-and raise serious questions about whether clinic personnel deceived emergency workers when they arrived on the scene.

Angele told WORLD she feared for the safety of herself and her two children if she carried to term her 23-week pregnancy. (For the same reason, she asked that only her first name be used.) "I had been terrorized. . . . I didn't feel I had any other choice," she said.

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On April 1, driven by a friend, she made her first visit to the EPOC Clinic, where abortionist Harry Perper completed the first steps of a "labor and delivery" abortion, Angele said. Dr. Perper was supposed to first inject the drug digoxin into the baby's heart to kill him, induce labor, and deliver a dead child the next day.

But Angele says she did not receive the digoxin injection but pills to induce contractions and a cervical ointment. On April 2 around 9 a.m., she arrived at the clinic crying, cramping, and bleeding. A clinic worker escorted her into a waiting room and left her alone to wait for Dr. Perper, who was not to arrive until 2 p.m.

About an hour passed. Then, in a connected bathroom, Angele delivered Rowan into a toilet. "The moment I saw Rowan . . . I cannot tell you the sickness that came over me and the self-loathing," Angele said. "I was miserable, sobbing. He was perfect, perfect . . . just tiny."

Then, she said, Rowan's leg moved. Next, she saw the tiny boy curl up as though cold. Angele says she screamed for clinic workers to call 911. One came and left twice without aiding either Rowan or Angele, who was covered in blood.

Frantic, Angele says she grabbed her cell phone and asked the friend who had driven her to the clinic to call 911.

At 10:22 a.m. and 10:29 a.m., the Orlando Fire Department (OFD) received calls requesting an ambulance to the EPOC Clinic:

Angele's Friend (AF): It's a women's clinic. . . . My friend is having an abortion and the baby was born alive. . . . They're not allowing her to use the phone there. They're wanting the baby to die!

OFD: She wants the baby to live?

AF: That's correct. . . . [She] said the baby was just born and it was alive and they were wanting her to leave it in the toilet and, uh, just let it die, and she's not wanting that to happen.

But it did happen. Angele continued to touch Rowan, whispering to him, warming him with her hands. Then he stopped moving. Under normal hospital care, two-thirds of babies born at 23 weeks survive, even though Florida state law allows abortions up to the third trimester.

According to the OFD's incident report, Engine 4 (E-4), bearing a paramedic and two EMTs, arrived on the scene at 10:37 a.m. Two police officers also arrived, responding to an OFD call for back-up that said clinic workers wanted "to kill the baby."

But 22 minutes after that, fire personnel left. "No patient found . . . ," the OFD report says. "E-4 responded to a disturbing the peace at the EPOC clinic. OPD arrived on scene, handled incident. No patient contact." Though she had brief contact with police, Angele never saw medical personnel.

Questions blare: How did a request for emergency medical help turn into a "disturbing the peace" call? With 911 calls reporting a life-and-death conflict over a baby, why didn't OFD medical personnel insist on examining the child?

Police and fire personnel who responded to the scene could not be reached for comment. Clinic owner James Pendergraft, who has served time in prison for extortion, would not comment on the incident.

OFD Chief Gregory Hoggatt, who had not yet spoken with the E-4 crew, explained that when OFD personnel are called to a health-care facility, they sometimes defer to "personnel at the clinic because they are professionals with higher training than we have for that particular situation."

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