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Illegal procedures

"Illegal procedures" Continued...

Issue: "Playing with capitalism," May 23, 2009

A Google search turns up regional activities in which Planned Parenthood has targeted Hispanics. In 2006, for example, the group's central Ohio branch sponsored a booth at a popular Latin American festival in Columbus and handed out more than 5,000 Spanish-language brochures.

Sedlak said Planned Parenthood is particularly intent on reaching girls and younger women of Hispanic descent. The underlying pitch can be summed up this way, he said: "Your parents' moral views of abortion are for the old country, but you're in America now."

Indeed, pro-abortion groups are chipping away at Hispanics' traditional faith-based resistance. For example, Catholics for a Free Choice publishes Hispanic-aimed materials that Rojas calls "propaganda, at best." Materials include a "prayer card" with Our Lady of Guadalupe-the Virgin Mary-on the front. On the back, a prayer asks Mary to allow for free and legal abortions.

In 2004, Planned Parenthood added a spiritual element to its Hispanic outreach, naming activist Methodist minister Ignacio Castuera as its first-ever national chaplain. The selection of Castuera was strategic: A member of Planned Parenthood's clergy advisor board since its 1994 inception, Castuera was then senior pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in the storied Watts section of Los Angeles and a well-known "community organizer."

In Planned Parenthood's spring 2005 newsletter, Castuera wrote that his job was to be "a living reminder of the close relationship between progressive religious forces and the struggle for sexual and reproductive freedom for women." Aurora Tinajero, director of the Spanish ministry of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas, said Castuero's job was to convince Hispanic women that "they could choose to abort and still be in good standing with God."

At 1:20 p.m. on April 24, the door to Judge Gill's courtroom was still closed. Having heard the blond woman on the corridor bench express enthusiasm for Bugarin's legal comeuppance, I walked over to ask her why.

"Bertha Bugarin is bad to the bone," she declared, peering up at me through thin designer glasses. "She didn't pay her suppliers. She didn't pay the doctors at her clinics. That's probably when she started doing the abortions herself."

"How are you connected to this case?" I said.

The woman hesitated, glancing at the press pass hanging from a lanyard around my neck. Then she raised her chin and looked me in the eye. "I used to drive one of the doctors to the clinic."

"Which doctor? Bruce Stier?" I said, naming an abortionist who killed a woman in Riverside, Calif., in 1996.

The woman's eyes flickered sideways toward the elderly man who was still seated next to her. "I'd rather not say."

Just then, the man piped up with his own analysis of Bugarin's business practices: "It was greed," he said. "My impression was that she wasn't a straight shooter. She had a lot of Hispanics working at the clinic and didn't pay them regularly. They were probably illegals."

"How are you connected to this case?" I asked.

The man's gaze was defiant, unflinching. "I'm a doctor. I did most of the work at Bugarin's clinic."

The doctor declined to state his name. But at that moment, a smiling, short-haired woman walked up and sat down next to him. Eying my notepad, pen, and press pass, she linked arms with the man and nudged him playfully. "You're not going to let your name get in the papers are you, Phillip?"

Over the years, Bertha Bugarin's Los Angeles clinics had at least 18 lawsuits filed against them, including a case involving Phillip Rand. Bugarin employed the 84-year-old abortionist at the San Diego-area clinic where Luis Mendoza counseled. According to court records, Rand in 2004 performed, without anesthesia or painkillers, a vacuum aspirator abortion on "Angela P.," a woman 20 weeks pregnant. In an aspirator abortion, the doctor inserts a tube called a cannula into the woman's cervix, uses a sharp edge to cut the baby into parts, then suctions them through the tube.

According to the National Abortion Federation, an aspiration abortion should not be attempted after 14 weeks gestation. At 20 weeks, a fetus is about 10 inches long, weighs about 10 ounces, and has hair and a fully formed baby face visible on ultrasound. Size-wise, trying to suction a 20-week baby through a cannula would be like trying to suction a newborn kitten through a drinking straw.

By the time paramedics arrived, Angela P. was lying in a crimson puddle, pulse racing and blood pressure dropping. The incident, so heinous that the patient was profiled on NBC's Dateline, capped a string of Rand's botched abortions. He surrendered his medical license in 2005.

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