Dave Andrusko

Notorious abortionist may have opened illegal clinic in Pennsylvania

Dave Andrusko
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The headline was, to put it mildly, understated: “Pa. probing controversial abortion clinic in Phila.”

What may be going on in Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Marie McCullough, is that one of the most notorious abortionists in all of North America– Steven Brigham—may have “opened a new clinic in Pennsylvania, even though the state has barred him from doing so, and even though abortion clinics are being scrutinized under a recently enacted state law.”

So who is Steven Brigham? In her story published Wednesday McCullough outlined his track record:

Public records show that Brigham, 57, has a two-decade history of battling medical boards, regulators, the IRS, landlords, creditors, and, most recently, criminal prosecutors in Maryland.

Not long after he got his Pennsylvania medical license, he gave it up in a 1992 agreement with the state. He later lost his medical privileges in New York, Florida, and California.

He is now in hearings before an administrative judge in New Jersey, fighting for his last license. Three years ago, New Jersey suspended it when he was caught – after a critically injured patient went to the police – doing what he was disciplined for in the mid-1990s: starting late-term abortions in New Jersey and finishing them in another state.

McCullough’s story connects the dots. Even though the evidence is “circumstantial,” there is evidence to suggest that Integrity Family Health is part of Brigham’s empire. (More about that in a moment.)

Pro-abortionists, who sat on their hands while convicted murderer Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell went unchecked for 17 years, are simultaneously patting themselves on the back for alerting authorities to the possible connection and insisting that because Brigham may have (yet again) gamed the system, the law passed in Pennsylvania to regulate and upgrade the requirements of abortion clinics only served to “limit women’s opportunities for good health care,” according to state Rep. Michelle Brownlee (D-Philadelphia) in an interview with the pro-abortion site RH Reality Check.org.

It’s noteworthy that Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society operated in Brownlee’s district and that (hardly surprising) Brownlee opposed the requirement that all free standing abortion clinics be treated as ambulatory surgical facilities.

McCullough’s very thorough, very thoughtful piece on Brigham can be read in its entirety here.  To understand the rest of the story, you need to know that although Brigham has experienced many setbacks, he continues to operate a number of abortion clinics in several states. McCullough writes

Although the enterprise has 11 clinics in New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida, five facilities in Maryland – including the secret one – have been shuttered by that state. In Pennsylvania, where Brigham formerly had four clinics, the state last year ordered the closure of the remaining two, in Pittsburgh and Allentown.

According to the story, staff members at Philadelphia Women’s Center abortion clinic received a call from a patient. They Googled the name “and found a newspaper article about Brigham’s Maryland clinics that mentioned ‘Integrity Health in Pennsylvania.’”

After a series of phone calls they found that appointments were being made for Integrity Family Health through Brigham’s multistate abortion company, American Women’s Services. After hearing a recorded message and other details, they called state health officials.

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Regulators in Pennsylvania “seized the chance last year to shut him down for ‘infrastructure failures,’ legally defined as an event that could seriously compromise patient safety,” McCullough writes. “Specifically, the Allentown clinic lost its lease, and the obstetrician-gynecologist serving both Pittsburgh and Allentown quit.”

State Health Department Deputy Secretary Anna Marie Sossong wrote to Brigham in April 2012 and “ordered Brigham to let the public know the clinics were gone, including changing his website.”

How did Brigham respond? According to McCullough

American Women’s Services’ website says those clinics are ‘temporarily closed.’ Brigham is fighting to reopen them.

In legal papers, Brigham’s lawyer says the clinics did have an ob-gyn on staff: Vikram Kaji, 77.

Not mentioned is the fact that Brigham was sanctioned in the 1990s for employing Kaji while the ob-gyn’s Pennsylvania license was suspended for sexually abusing patients.

Reprinted with permission from NRLC


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In-utero laser surgery saves unborn twins

Dave Andrusko
Dave Andrusko
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A tip of the hat to ABC 13 News which broadcasts in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and especially to reporter Lucy Bustamente for her terrific story about Ella and Anna Springer. The twins were born February 21 at 32 weeks and are doing fine.

However, no one could be sure there would be a happy outcome when Crystal Springer, then 22 weeks pregnant, learned that her babies had a condition known as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

TTTS is rare and potentially lethal, and occurs only in identical twins. In TTTS one sibling, called the recipient, takes too much blood from the other–the “donor twin”–who can suffer stunted growth as a result, or die.

More specifically, “The shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels, which connect the umbilical cords and circulations of the twins,” according to the Twin to Twin Transfusion Foundation. “The common placenta may also be shared unequally by the twins, and one twin may have a share too small to provide the necessary nutrients to grow normally or even survive.”

When Mrs. Springer and husband Nick, a sailor on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, learned that Ella and Anna had TTTS, “I felt like I failed them,” Mrs. Springer told Bustamente. “I thought I did something wrong to cause this.”

But “they went right from the doctor’s office to Eastern Virginia Medical School to meet with Jena Miller, MD, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist,” Bustamente explained. Dr. Miller counseled that they operate immediately because the undernourished baby could go into heart failure. Miller recommended a laser procedure–performed in the womb– to separate the blood vessels.

The December 9 operation went “perfectly,” Miller explained, but the babies weren’t out of the woods yet. “Dr. Miller knew still it was not time to celebrate,” Bustamente told her viewers. “The twins had a 40% chance of dying since the [abnormal blood] vessels could form again.”

Thankfully, they did not.

The couple wanted Dr. Miller to deliver the twins, because she had done so much for them and their children. She made it just in time to perform the C-Section on February 21. Anna was born healthy at 5 pounds, seven ounces. Ella weighed in at 4 pounds, seven ounces, and also was healthy.

The girls went home after six weeks in the Special Care Nursery at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, and there is every reason to believe Anna and Ella will develop normally.

“The new Sentara EVMS Fetal Care Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital provides in-utero treatment for many fetal conditions once considered life threatening or treatable only after birth,” ABC Channel 13 News reported. “It’s the only site of care in Virginia and one of few on the East Coast to perform laser therapy for TTTS.”

And the Springers were the first beneficiaries. As Mr. Springer told Bustamente, they have twin girls “who sleep through the night and eat well.”

Reprinted with permission from National Right to Life News


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Wednesday begins two days of expert testimony in case of man who slipped abortifacient to girlfriend

Dave Andrusko
Dave Andrusko
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It seemingly came out of the blue. John Andrew Welden admitted tricking his then-girlfriend Remee Jo Lee into taking misoprostol (Cytotec)last March with the intention of causing Ms. Lee to miscarry her 6-7-week-old unborn baby. His lawyers had worked out a plea bargain so that Welden pleaded guilty to lesser charges of consumer product tampering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud as part of a plea bargain to avoid first-degree murder charges under the NRLC-inspired Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

The September agreement between prosecutors and defense attorney Todd Foster recommended a prison term of 13 years and eight months for Welden. And then….

Last month U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara, clearly influenced by a court filing submitted in June by Welden’s attorney, Todd Foster, told both parties that “The Court has grave concerns with regard to whether there exists a true factual basis to support” the plea bargain parties have already signed.

Foster’s filing included an affidavit from Dr. Rebecca Allen, who teaches obstetrics and gynecology at the medical school at Brown University, who “opined that it would be ‘impossible’ for one 200 microgram dose to have caused serious bodily harm and also ‘impossible’ for anyone to definitively say that it induced Lee’s abortion,” according to Patty Ryan, reporting for the Tampa Bay Times.

Judge Lazzara delayed the sentencing and promised to take testimony from experts on the “potency” of Misoprostol—specifically whether a single 200 microgram dose could have induced Ms. Lee’s miscarriage. That is what the court will hear today and tomorrow.

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Originally a federal grand jury indicted Weldon on two federal charges, one of them a murder charge made possible by the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act legislation that was instigated by NRLC and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. Had Weldon been convicted on that charge, Weldon would have faced a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Weldon told Ms. Lee that his physician father said that she had an infection and he was bringing her antibiotics. After scratched identifying markings off the Cytotec pills, Welden then put the fraudulent label on the empty pill bottle and put the altered Cytotec pills inside. (Cytotec can be used to induce contractions.)

Welden “also affixed a second label to the bottle reading, ‘Amoxicillin: 125mg oral tablet,’ a common antibiotic,” according to reporter Elaine Silverstrini. Ms. Lee began feeling severe pain and cramps, The Tampa Times reported, and “On March 31 [2013], she went to Tampa General Hospital, where she was told the unborn child was dead.” Ms. Lee’s baby was estimated to be 6-7 weeks old.

Reprinted with permission from NRLC


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Skeptical panel hears arguments against portions of pro-life Texas bill

Dave Andrusko
Dave Andrusko
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A three-judge federal appeals court panel Monday heard an hour-long debate over the constitutionality of two sections of HB 2, a pro-life 2013 Texas law.

The consensus, for what it’s worth, among media accounts is that judges Jennifer Walker Elrod, Catharina Haynes, and Edith Jones were skeptical of the plaintiff’s arguments made on behalf of Planned Parenthood and a number of abortionists by Janet Crepps, a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel did not indicate when a decision would be rendered on U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel’s October ruling which overturned portions of HB2. Whichever way the panel rules, the case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs challenged two portions of HB2. The first requires that abortionists have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. The second addresses how chemical abortifacients are administered. The law requires the abortionist be in the same room as the woman receiving the chemical abortifacients (which is not the case with so-called ‘web-cam” abortions) and that abortionists follow the protocol approved by the FDA for the use of the two-drug “RU-486” abortion technique.

Crepps and Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell sparred over the intent and the impact of the provision requiring that abortionists have admitting privileges in a local hospital.

Crepps argued that the law would force abortion clinics to close, and that the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas in particular would be without an abortionist. As a result pregnant women seeking abortions would have to drive 150 miles to have an abortion, Crepps told the panel.

Mitchell rejoined that the plaintiff’s “burden is to show that that 30-mile radius is unconstitutionally burdensome everywhere through the state.” He added, “And they have not met that burden here.”

A key question raised in court and in court filings was whether an absence of abortionists stemmed from HB2 or unrelated factors. For example, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that “there is no medically sound basis for H.B. 2′s privileges requirement.”

Judge Haynes asked (according to the paraphrase of Andrea Grimes of RhRealitycheck.org) why “if ACOG’s group of thousands of OB-GYNs in Texas felt abortion was an essential procedure, more of them didn’t perform abortions themselves. If more of them didn’t sign on to perform the procedure, thereby reducing access to abortion, she said, ‘that is not a creature of HB 2′s making.’”

Crepps responded that doctors [abortionists] are afraid of violence and harassment. To which Judge Jones asked, “And what did Dr. Gosnell do?” a reference to the abortionist convicted in 2013 of three counts of first degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter.

Pro-abortionists say that more than a dozen abortion clinics have closed because of the law, although some (apparently four) have reopened. The obvious question is how many others will sudden ly reopen in the weeks and months to come.

In a November 22 court filing, the state of Texas argued that the new requirements promote the health and safety of women and advance the state’s “interest in protecting fetal life.”

“Although some opponents of (the law) have questioned whether the statute’s health-and-safety benefits will outweigh the costs imposed on abortion providers, the Supreme Court allows states to resolve disagreements within the medical community over the proper standards of practice.”

As NRL News Today reported, on October 28 Judge Yeakel ruled that the admitting privileges provision places an unconstitutional burden on women’s access to abortion. Three days later a 5th Circuit panel (which included two of the judges who heard oral arguments yesterday) allowed Texas to enforce the law while the state appealed Yeakel’s decision.

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In a 20-page decision, Judges Priscilla R. Owen, Jennifer Walker Elrod, and Catharina Haynes wrote, “[T]here is a substantial likelihood that the state will prevail in its argument that Planned Parenthood failed to establish an undue burden on women seeking abortions or that the hospital-admitting-privileges requirement creates a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.” (See nrlc.cc/1iuZmDM.)

On November 28 the U.S. Supreme Court voted not to block (“stay”) the appeals court’s action allowing the law to be enforced.

HB 2 was passed in July by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Perry. The overall bill is best known for pro-abortion state Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster which temporarily foiled the will of the legislature and the people of Texas. Davis subsequently used the enormous media attention she received as a springboard to announce that she was running for governor.

As NRL News Today has reported, the silence of pro-abortionists was deafening on Texas’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That law which prohibits aborting babies capable of feeling pain, was never challenged and went into effect in October, the same day Yeakel issued his injunction.

Reprinted with permission from NRLC


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