by Susan E. Wills
Source: National Review 13-NOV-98
[More Dead & Butchered Women from SAFE and Legal Abortion]
There was a time when you could count on reporters not to care much what happened behind the doors of abortion clinics. But times are changing for America's abortionists. One slip-up-you misjudge an unborn baby's age by three months, you lose a patient or two to a perforated uterus, you defraud a few insurance companies-and bam! The local papers are at your doorstep, exposing the ugly side of the American abortion industry.
Case in point: John Biskind of the A-Z Women's Center in Phoenix. On June 30, 1998, while attempting to do a partial-birth abortion on a baby whose age he estimated at 23.6 weeks, Dr. Biskind discovered the little girl to be nearly full term, weighing a hefty 6 pounds, 2 ounces. He delivered her intact, but not before he had fractured her skull and deeply lacerated her face in two places.
It wasn't long before inquiring reporters unearthed a few skeletons: the Arizona Republic reported that in 1990 the Arizona medical board had "scolded [Dr. Biskind] for trying to abort a full-formed baby he said he thought was just 10 weeks old." Mid-abortion, he sent the mother home with antibiotics instead of sending her to a hospital. The Board put a "letter of concern" in his official file. The next year, the Board added another letter of concern for the doctor's having signed blank and undated prescription forms.
In January 1996, examiners issued a "decree of censure" against Dr. Biskind for gross negligence in connection with the February 1995 death of a 26-year-old Flagstaff woman. In the course of committing a mid-trimester abortion (at 20-plus weeks), Biskind perforated and lacerated her uterus 8 centimeters (over 3 inches). The woman was discharged from the facility about a half-hour after the abortion and bled to death later that day.
Then, in April 1998, Dr. Biskind punctured the uterus of another woman, 33-year-old Louann Herron, in the course of an abortion on her 26-week-old fetus. An RN then in his employ maintains that Dr. Biskind knew of the baby's age from two prior ultrasounds, but instructed a medical assistant to take another ultrasound from a different angle to make the baby appear younger. (Abortions are not permitted in Arizona after 26 weeks, absent documented risk to the mother's life or health.)
The abortion was completed at 12:40 p.m. An hour and a half later, alarmed medical assistants-two of whom were new and untrained-alerted Dr. Biskind that the patient was still bleeding. He ordered medication to control the bleeding and left the clinic for the day. It was almost 4:00 p.m. when the now-frantic assistants asked the administrator to call 911. The supervisor refused without paging Dr. Biskind first. When 911 was finally called, clinic employees wanted the ambulance to go to the back door with the sirens off. Paramedics administered CPR too late to save Ms. Herron from bleeding to death from a uterine puncture.
Maricopa County Superior Court records show seven lawsuits that name Biskind, the A-Z clinic, or Dr. Moshe Hachamovitch, the clinic's owner; Arizona medical board records contain seven complaints against Hachamovitch and three letters of concern for problems such as improper medical record-keeping and failure to file fetal death certificates, required if the child is 24 weeks' gestation or older; and the A-Z clinic was fined for 12 health hazards (one "serious") in 1996 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Dr. Hachamovitch owns another abortion clinic in Phoenix and one in Tempe, as well as several in New York and Texas. At least two lawsuits and complaints against him have arisen from the deaths of patients in his clinics in New York and Texas.
Another case: Recent press reports have exposed Dr. Steven Brigham's systematic insurance fraud and tax evasion, for which he was sentenced to 120 days in jail, five years' probation, and restitution. But we found only one story in eight years that has mentioned that he lost his medical licenses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, and Florida for acts committed within each state (including life-threatening botched abortions). Obviously, license suspension or revocation didn't inconvenience the doctor much; he simply moved operations to another state or hired other doctors to work in his clinics after each incident. The revocation of Dr. Brigham's license in New York didn't stop him from operating two clinics in the state. He also performed second-trimester abortions in New Jersey, despite a February 1994 order from the New Jersey medical board limiting him to first-trimester abortions (up to 15 weeks).
Like Dr. Biskind, Dr. Brigham appears prone to underestimating gestational age in his eagerness to perform late-term abortions. On August 19, 1993, for example, Dr. Brigham told a patient at his New Jersey clinic that she was 16-20 weeks pregnant. He allegedly offered to abort her child in New York for $5,000 to $10,000. The baby girl was then 32-35 weeks' gestation and was born on September 15, weighing a healthy 6 pounds, 7 ounces. And then there is Brigham's bedside manner. After refusing to allow a mother to be present during her frightened 14-year-old daughter's abortion because she could not afford a $50 "spectator" fee, Brigham allegedly over-sedated the girl and stuffed a handful of gauze into her mouth. Staff had difficulty waking her.
Dr. Mark Binder, who performed abortions at Dr. Brigham's clinics in Colonie and Nanuet, N.Y., has been charged by the New York State Board of Professional Medical Conduct with 18 counts of gross negligence, gross incompetence, conduct evidencing moral unfitness, and fraud. He, too, instructed an ultrasound technician to falsify readings on gestational age so that fetuses over 24 weeks would appear to be under New York's legal age limit.
Mrs. Wills is assistant director for program development at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, and editor of Life Insight.