Maryland lawmakers overlooked abortion regulations to target pro-life pregnancy centers

This editorial by the Archbishop of Baltimore posted in The Baltimore Sun– about sums up my feelings:

O’Brien: In Md., abortion not safe or rare


September 08, 2010

Your Sept. 3 front page story, “Abortion doctors suspended after woman suffers injury,” is a shocking reminder of a reality too often ignored: Legal abortion may be fiercely protected in Maryland, but it is a far cry from being safe or rare. The story, and a sincere concern for the safety of women, should prompt strict scrutiny of Maryland’s permissive abortion laws and an honest effort to learn why these unscrupulous practitioners were attracted to our state in order to commit such atrocities.

Too often, Maryland’s lawmakers have steadfastly refused to consider even the mildest restrictions on abortion, including stricter regulations on abortion clinics that might have prevented this horrendous abuse of clients. Laws have been repeatedly rejected, for instance, to require abortion clinics to follow the same regulations as other ambulatory surgical centers, so that clinics continue to be allowed to operate simply as doctors’ offices.

Ironically, elected officials, fueled by the extreme agenda of the abortion industry, have instead focused on “regulating” pro-life pregnancy centers for the supposed harm they do providing free, life-affirming services to women facing crisis pregnancies. As a result, Baltimore City now holds the dubious distinction of passing the nation’s first law targeting pregnancy centers that do not perform abortions or provide birth control. Montgomery County quickly followed in passing a similar regulation. With pro bono legal assistance, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has challenged the constitutionality of that law, and we hope that more reasoned — and less political — deliberations will lead to its undoing.

We continue to pray for all those harmed by abortion, most especially the unborn and their mothers. We pray too that our elected officials will finally have the courage and wisdom to shake off the undue influence of pro-abortion special interests in Maryland. It is time to enact laws in our state that genuinely protect vulnerable pregnant women, even those who wish to choose life.

Edwin F. O’Brien, Baltimore.
The writer is Archbishop of Baltimore.

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Here are details from Operation Rescue:

Four Abortionists Suspended in Two States Yesterday
Despite action to protect the public, over a dozen dangerous abortion mills run by suspended abortionists remain open

TRENTON, N.J., Sept. 9 /Christian Newswire/ — Medical boards in New Jersey and Maryland took action yesterday to insure that four abortionists halted operations after declaring that they pose a danger to the public.

The New Jersey Medical Board acted Wednesday to suspend the medical license of the notorious abortionist Stephen Chase Brigham after an investigation into a botched abortion discovered that he was starting late-term abortions in New Jersey then leading the women across state lines to Maryland where he and his associates would complete the abortions, some as late as 35 weeks gestation.

New Jersey is the last state in which Brigham maintained an active medical license. He has been banned from the practice of medicine in Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and California. He was never licensed to practice in Maryland, a state that ordered him to cease and desist from the unlicensed practice of medicine in that state on August 25, 2010.

A botched abortion on August 13, 2010, exposed Brigham’s illegal late-term abortion racket, which included two other abortionists, Nicola Riley of Utah and George Shepard of Delaware.
Maryland authorities issued suspension orders for Riley and Shepard on August 31, 2010. A hearing was held yesterday in which evidence against the two was to be heard. Neither abortionist attended the hearing. Shepard’s suspension was upheld since his attorneys did not show up for the hearing. However, Riley’s attorneys were granted a continuance and have pledged to fight to restore Riley’s license. Meanwhile, her suspension remains in effect.

In another case, Maryland abortionist Romeo Ferrer’s medical license was suspended based on a four-year old abortion death complaint.

On February 3, 2006, a 21-year old African American woman went to Gynecare Center for a second trimester dilation and evacuation abortion by Romeo Ferrer. The patient was overdosed on pain-killing narcotics. She was not properly monitored and appropriate emergency protocols were not followed. This negligence resulted in the patient’s death.

At a disciplinary hearing in June, the Maryland State Board of Physicians failed to act to suspend his license, but yesterday, the Board issued a suspension order that stated, “Based on the foregoing facts, the Board concludes that the public health, safety or welfare require emergency action in this case.”

Pro-life groups including Operation Rescue, Defend Life, and Pro-Life Unity, have publicly demanded Board action against Ferrer and have worked to bring him to justice, and consider yesterday’s suspension a partial victory.

Calls placed today to Brigham’s 15 abortion clinics and Ferrer’s Severna Park, Maryland, mill show that all locations remain operating and taking abortion patients with other abortionists at the helm.

“While we applaud the suspensions of the four abortionists, is it shocking to learn that their dangerous abortion businesses continue to operate,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “In the interest of public safety, we implore the medical boards to close these clinics before more women are maimed or killed.”

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And this is how The Baltimore Sun reported things today:

Board upholds license suspension of obstetrician in abortion injury
In unrelated case, panel takes action against Severna Park doctor in overdose death

By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun
6:52 p.m. EDT, September 8, 2010

A state medical panel upheld a suspension order Wednesday against an obstetrician who ran a clinic in which an 18-year-old woman was badly injured during an abortion.

Neither the doctor — George Shepard Jr., 88, who oversaw the five Maryland clinics of American Women’s Services — nor his attorney appeared at the hearing in Baltimore of the Maryland Board of Physicians that was to hear evidence against him in the case of the woman, who suffered a perforated uterus and other injuries during an Aug. 13 procedure in Elkton.

The medical licenses of Shepard and another doctor, Nicola I. Riley, 45, were suspended last week. A third doctor in the case, Steven C. Brigham, 54, who state officials say owns the chain of clinics, was not licensed to practice medicine in Maryland and was ordered to stop doing so.
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Riley, a family doctor who obtained her Maryland license July 20 and who medical officials say performed the Aug. 13 abortion under Brigham’s instructions, was at home Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Two lawyers appeared at the hearing on her behalf and asked for a continuance on the grounds that they had not had sufficient time to prepare a defense. The 12 board members granted the continuance but did not set a date for a new hearing. In the meantime, Riley’s license remains suspended.

“She’s going to fight to keep her license,” said Christopher C. Brown, one of Riley’s lawyers. Her other attorney, Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, added that Riley “should be reinstated.”

The three doctors’ actions came to light after a surgeon at a Baltimore hospital was forced to perform an emergency operation on the young woman to repair damage from the procedure she underwent at the Elkton clinic.

C. Irving Pinder Jr., the executive director of the physicians board, said that even though Brigham was unlicensed in Maryland, he could still be fined $50,000 for each incident of malpractice, and law enforcement agencies were looking into the possibility of charging him with felonies. The other two doctors could also be charged, and the physicians’ board retains the option of reprimanding them, revoking their licenses, placing them on probation or dismissing their cases.

In an unrelated case, board members signed a suspension order for a Severna Park abortion doctor whose patient, a 21-year-old woman, died of an overdose of anesthesia during surgery. The doctor, Romeo A. Ferrer, who obtained his Maryland physician’s license in 1971, “failed to meet appropriate standards for the delivery of quality medical care” during the operation on Feb. 3, 2006, the suspension order says.

The woman in that case, the mother of a 3-year-old boy, was 16 weeks pregnant and healthy at the time of the abortion, according to the document. An autopsy indicated that she died of “Meperidine intoxication,” a reference to a narcotic analgesic.

Board investigators concluded that a second dose, given to the patient just five minutes after the first, “was too large and administered too quickly” and that Ferrer and his team failed to properly monitor her pulse and blood pressure. When the woman’s fingernails turned blue, a sign that she was deprived of oxygen, Ferrer “failed to provide adequate resuscitative efforts,” the document says.

Paramedics were unable to revive the patient, who was later pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The case came to the attention of the physicians board after the woman’s family sued Ferrer. He was being served with the suspension order Wednesday but could not be reached for comment.

In the Elkton case, board investigators said the procedure on the woman, who was 21 weeks pregnant, began at an AWS clinic in Voorhees, N.J., where the dilation of her cervix was initiated. The next morning, she and two other patients were told to travel in their own cars to the AWS clinic in Elkton, a 60-mile trip, for the actual abortions, a tactic that evidently took into account that Maryland law — unlike New Jersey’s — does not address the issue of late-term abortions.

In Elkton, the documents say, Riley bungled the abortion, and she and Brigham decided to drive the woman to a nearby emergency room. Once there, the two doctors were “circumspect” about who they were and where the bleeding, semiconscious patient had come from, the documents say, but demanded that ER doctors come out to meet them rather than taking the woman inside themselves.

Their actions created “a lot of confusion,” said Pinder, the physicians’ board director, and “posed a danger to the public” by delaying the woman’s treatment.

Shepard was not thought to have been directly involved in the woman’s surgery, Pinder said, but he was “aiding and abetting the practice of medicine by an unlicensed professional,” the latter a reference to Brigham. Pinder said the board, which has jurisdiction over doctors but not clinics, was investigating “all the practitioners” in the five AWS clinics in Maryland.

“Once you start peeling the onion,” he said, “you tend to find a lot more problems.”

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