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Death by drowning

Abortion | New evidence suggests that some clinics are violating federal law by killing children who survive abortions

Issue: "MS-13: Criminals next door," June 18, 2005

Infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller hit the news again on June 1 after protesters outside Women's Healthcare Services, his Wichita clinic, saw him rush out on June 1 still wearing surgical scrubs. Moments earlier, a green Suburban had exited the abortion business parking lot, LifeNews.com reported, carrying a woman slumped in the back seat with a jacket over her head. Both Dr. Tiller and the Suburban headed straight for Wesley Medical Center's emergency room.

According to Kansas pro-life activists, trips to Wesley are not uncommon for Dr. Tiller, who normally takes women suffering from abortion complications there. But each trip is notable because at least two women have died after abortions at his clinics, including one on Jan. 13, 2005.

As it turns out, some babies at Dr. Tiller's clinic may also be dying after abortions instead of during them. Last week, WORLD obtained a document called "Your Stay at Women's Healthcare Services: Step-by-Step What to Expect, Intrauterine Induction Abortion."

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Intrauterine induction abortion is a mid- to late-term procedure in which the baby is delivered whole, and usually dead. It is the same procedure that abortionist Harry Perper, who works for Florida abortion king James Pendergraft, used on Angele, the woman who claimed in April to have delivered a live baby boy who died after clinic workers refused to render aid or call 911. (See "Rowan's story," May 7.)

The WHS document lists "live birth of the fetus" among possible complications of induction abortion and places responsibility for the medical care and transport of any live-born infant on the aborting mother. That document, plus a 2004 statement by a WHS abortionist and a Florida abortionist's 2004 testimony in a live-birth lawsuit pending against Dr. Pendergraft, raise questions: Are abortion businesses routinely violating the Born Alive Infant Protection Act of 2000 (BAIPA), which requires medical workers to render life-saving aid when a baby survives abortion?

If so, what happens to aborted babies, who, as noted below, are born alive? Finally, after announcing in April plans for tougher enforcement of BAIPA, what will HHS do in the face of specific evidence that clinic-based abortionists are breaking the law?

Joann Armentrout, administrator at Dr. Tiller's Wichita clinic, said WHS isn't breaking the law: "We've never had a live birth here," she said.

Ms. Armentrout apparently missed at least one such case, that of Sarah Brown, a severely disabled little girl who was adopted and lived for five years after surviving an abortion at Dr. Tiller's clinic in July 1993. Ms. Armentrout's assertion also conflicts with a statement WHS abortionist LeRoy Carhart made last year. During dilation-and-evacuation abortions, "the fetuses are alive at the time of delivery" at least once a month, he told the Associated Press in April 2004. "Very frequently" there is a heartbeat, he said.

A heartbeat is one of four signs of neonatal life specified by BAIPA. The other three are voluntary movement, breathing, or a pulsating umbilical cord. Angele, 34, the mother of Baby Rowan, said her son curled up as though cold and grasped her finger with his hand after she delivered him into a toilet at Dr. Pendergraft's EPOC Clinic in Orlando.

Shortly thereafter, the baby died. During an autopsy three weeks later, Orange County, Fla., chief medical examiner Jan Garavaglia found "no forensic evidence" that Rowan had been born alive. And though the M.E. later acknowledged that forensic science enabled her to check for only one of the BAIPA-specified signs of life, people began to doubt Angele's story.

But according to deposition testimony by abortionist Randall B. Whitney, born-alive abortions do happen at Dr. Pendergraft's clinics-and his staff makes no attempt to resuscitate the babies.

In spring 2004, Tampa attorney Jennifer Gentry Fernandez filed suit in Orange County circuit court against Dr. Pendergraft, the Orlando Women's Center (OWC)-one of the six clinics he owns-and Dr. Whitney.

The suit alleges that Ms. Fernandez's client, identified only as "C.H." in court records, consented to have a second-trimester abortion at OWC on Nov. 15 and 16, 2001. But after 12 hours of induced labor, at approximately 1 a.m. on Nov. 16, OWC workers told C.H. that she had a "bad attitude," that she should leave the clinic, and "not to come back." (Defendants dispute that claim, court documents indicate, and contend C.H. left the clinic willingly.)

C.H. then went to Orlando Regional Medical Center where, early in the morning of Nov. 16, she delivered a live baby girl, referred to in the case as "J.F." Now 3 years old, J.F. is paralyzed on her left side and suffers from cerebral palsy, brain damage, and seizure disorder. The lawsuit seeks money for her care.

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