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Pro-life group demands closure of Virginia abortion facility over hundreds of health violations

The Virginia Beach facility is owned by Steve Brigham, a late term abortionist who has had his medical license revoked in numerous states for injuring patients due to negligence.
Wed Jun 4, 2014 - 4:05 pm EST

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, June 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Richmond-based pro-life group is urging the state of Virginia to strip a Virginia Beach abortion facility of its license and ban its owner from opening any other abortion centers in the state.

The Family Foundation of Virginia held a press conference outside the Virginia Women’s Wellness abortion center Tuesday to draw attention to its demands, which they say are based on hundreds of health and safety violations found during state inspections at the clinic. They also cite the poor reputation of the facility’s owner, Steve Brigham, a late term abortionist who has had his medical license revoked in numerous states for injuring patients due to negligence. 

Brigham is not licensed to practice medicine in Virginia.

At the press conference, Family Foundation president Victoria Cobb warned state officials that without immediate action, Virginia runs the risk of having “its own Kermit Gosnell” – a notorious late term abortionist convicted of first degree murder for severing the spines of babies born alive after botched procedures at his Philadelphia clinic.

“Steven Brigham has an over 20 year record of not only putting women at risk, but lying under oath and disregarding the laws in multiple states,” Cobb said.  “Recent inspections of his facility prove that he has no concern for the health and well-being of his patients.

“Steven Brigham has no business being in business in Virginia,” she added. “It is time for the Commonwealth of Virginia to take immediate action and put this man out of business before Virginia has its own Kermit Gosnell.” 

In 2011, officials in Maryland charged Brigham with eleven counts of murder after authorities there discovered the remains of 35 nearly full-term babies inside a freezer at one of his facilities.  However, the charges were later dropped because investigators could not prove the babies had been aborted in Maryland. 

In a press release sent to the local Virginian-Pilot newspaper, Virginia Women’s Wellness spokeswoman Bridget Wilson distanced the clinic from Brigham, calling him a "silent owner" who "has not even set foot in the facility in years."

Although Brigham does not perform abortions at the Virginia Beach facility, at least one abortionist there has a similarly dangerous track record when it comes to patient care.  Abortionist Craig Cropp has faced multiple disciplinary actions since 1998, and has had his medical license suspended in both Maryland and Virginia for injuring patients and failing to obey the terms of his probationary agreements.

A recent inspection by Virginia public health officials revealed that Brigham’s Virginia Beach clinic had a 36.6 percent failure rate when it came to drug-induced abortions – more than four times the national average.  Women who endure failed RU-486 abortions must return to the clinic for additional procedures to remove their babies’ remains – an invasive and costly result for the mothers, but one which adds to the clinic’s bottom line. 

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“In its most recent inspection, the state found that one in every three women that undergo a medical abortion rather than a surgical abortion have that process fail,” Cobb said at the press conference. “These women experience all the trauma and physical pain associated with a chemical abortion and then still have to undergo invasive surgery—the exact surgery they were seeking to avoid.”

Cobb noted that the FDA describes RU-486 as 95 percent effective at killing and expelling a baby when used correctly.  “So a 37 percent failure rate is off the charts,” she said.

“Most disturbing,” Cobb added, “is the center’s plan of correction when this alarming complication rate was discovered in their inspection.”  She quoted their proposed ‘solution’ from the state heath inspector’s report: “These cases will no longer be listed in the complication log.”

Cobb noted that even pro-abortion activists have complained about Brigham’s shocking lack of concern for the safety of his clients, quoting an article from the pro-abortion website RH Reality Check.

“Since the early 1990s, public records show, Brigham’s patients have suffered emergency hysterectomies, severe bowel injuries, severed ureters, and sweeping lacerations to the uterus,” wrote Sharona Coutts, the website’s director of investigations and research, on July 11, 2013. “Over a period of two decades, Brigham has been barred from practicing medicine in at least six states, sued by his landlords and business associates, and even served jail time for failing to pay taxes.  And yet today, Brigham remains in control of a network of 15 abortion clinics in four states, and there appears little that most state authorities are able—or willing—to do about it.’”

“In 2010, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia labeled some of Brigham’s actions ‘egregious’ and ‘unscrupulous,’ and called on state officials to ‘ensure that Dr. Brigham is never allowed to provide services to women again,’” Cobb said.

But she also noted that the abortion industry has been working hard to roll back safety regulations designed to keep dangerous practitioners like Brigham from doing business. 

“The abortion industry’s actions haven’t matched its rhetoric,” Cobb said.  “They have worked tirelessly for more than two years to keep the Steven Brighams of the world in business in Virginia.”

“Terry McAuliffe and his Department of Health have a choice, side with the abortion industry and the likes of Steven Brigham, or side with the women of Virginia,” she added. “With a record like Steven Brigham’s, whether he’s doing the procedures or not is irrelevant.  If he is running his centers like he practiced medicine, he’s putting women at risk, and should be prohibited from operating in Virginia.”

Family Foundation Vice President Chris Freund told LifeSiteNews that they have not received any response from state officials since the press conference Tuesday.  However, he said, “there is a Board of Health meeting in Richmond tomorrow, where the abortion center regulations are likely to be discussed."