Medical Board Dismisses Case of Botched 35-Week Abortion

State   Steven Ertelt   Feb 7, 2013   |   2:42PM    Santa Fe, NM

The New Mexico Medical Board has dismissed a case against an abortion practitioner who faced a disciplinary hearing held in November, 2012 on four acts of gross negligence during a 35-week abortion on a woman with a history of previous Cesarean Section that resulted in a ruptured uterus.

Local pro-life advocates and Operation Rescue had filed the original complaints with the NMMB after receiving a 911 recording of a medical emergency that took place at Southwestern Women’s Options, a late-term abortion clinic in Albuquerque, on May 12, 2012.

The records also show that it is the position of Sella and her attorney, Joseph Goldberg, that the complaints should not have been considered by the Board due to the fact that pro-life activists filed them.

After hearing two days of testimony from Sella and two expert witnesses before Hearing Officer David K. Thompson, Administrative Prosecutor Daniel Rubin recommended that Sella be disciplined for “gross negligence” for breaching the standard of care during her treatment of a patient referred to as “ML”. “The Respondent [Sella] was well aware of the risks of uterine rupture associated with her treatment of M.L., but willfully ignored such risks,” wrote Rubin in his Closing Arguments and Proposed Finding of Fact, dated January 4, 2013.

However, the New Mexico Medical Board dismissed the case against late-term abortionist Shelley Sella without discipline even though she botched a 35-week abortion that resulted in a ruptured uterus and the inability of her patient to bear future children.

“All along we faced an uphill battle with a medical board that expressed views that were in support of third trimester abortions. Today’s decision to protect abortionists and their below standard procedures that endanger women and violate the law only serves to place more women at risk,” said Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue. “The corrupt political climate that exempts abortionists from adhering to the standard of care has created a second-class status for women who are being denied access to the protections that those standards provide. This is a miscarriage of justice.”

Sullenger says New Mexico law states that third trimester abortions should only be done in hospitals were these high risk patients can be carefully monitored and where they have access to immediate care in the event of an emergency.

UPDATE:  As the New Mexico Medical Board was preparing to dismiss the negligence case against  Sella, Operation Rescue learned eyewitnesses observed an ambulance arrive at Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque to transfer yet another of Sella’s patients to the hospital.

“This morning’s apparent medical emergency only validates not only our belief that Sella’s disciplinary case was wrongly decided, but also our concerns that Sella’s substandard abortion practices are placing women in grave risk,” said Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue. “We can only wonder how many women have to be hospitalized before authorities act to protect the public from Sella’s shoddy practices. Since it refuses to protect the public, there needs to be a complete and immediate overhaul of the New Mexico Medical Board.”

“Operation Rescue continues to work with Project Defending Life to obtain additional information about the incident that took place around 9:30 am,” Sullenger added.

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She said Sella ignored every possible warning sign, including the woman’s medical history that included a previous Cesarean Section delivery and ACOG standards when she proceeded with the abortion using dangerous drugs that cause unpredictable and often severe uterine contractions that have been known to cause uterine ruptures.

“Since the New Mexico Medical Board refuses to do it’s duty to protect the public, we call for a complete overhaul of the Board. We call on Gov. Suzanna Martinez to clean house at the Board before more women are injured or killed,” said Sullenger.