Court Won’t Hear Appeal in Arizona Woman’s Abortion Death

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 12, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Court Won’t Hear Appeal in Arizona Woman’s Abortion Death

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 12, 2003

Phoenix AZ (LifeNews.com) — The Arizona Supreme Court on Friday declined without comment to hear the appeal of a Phoenix abortion practitioner’s manslaughter conviction for killing a woman in a botched abortion.

John Biskind, 75, was convicted of manslaughter following the death of LouAnne Herron. He was sentenced in May 2001 to five years in prison.

"We are pleased that the court has refused to hear Biskind’s appeal," Shane Wikfors, the director of Arizona Right to Life, told LifeNews.com.

"After all the horrific facts of the case were revealed and deliberated, justice was served to this notorious abortionist. We strongly believe that the pursuit of justice must continue for the sake of Herron’s family and the thousands of women and unborn babies who have died and suffered at the hands of John Biskind," Wikfors added.

Biskind was never charged in the death of another woman who died from a botched abortion in 1995.

Herron lay bleeding for more than three hours from a punctured uterus as a medical assistant at the A-Z Women’s Center abortion facility begged her supervisor to call 911.

By the time the supervisor paged Biskind to get permission to call paramedics, it was too late.

Herron died hours after the abortion performed by Biskind, the same abortion practitioner who delivered a full-term baby at the abortion facility in June 1998 after misdiagnosing the baby’s age by 13 weeks.

Herron, 32, was in the process of being divorced when she visited the abortion facility in April 1998 with a friend for an abortion. An employee — fairly new to the facility — performed an ultrasound examination indicating that Herron was 23 weeks and a few days pregnant.

Arizona law permits abortions until the unborn child is "viable" — 23 weeks according to most medical definitions. The A-Z Women’s Center advertised in the Yellow Pages as the only abortion facility in Arizona that performed abortions on unborn children up to 24 weeks along.

Herron was sent to another abortion facility for an ultrasound that showed she was past the 24 week cutoff. Herron returned to Biskind’s business and was told she couldn’t have the abortion.

Nine days after Herron’s first visit, the administrator at Biskind’s abortion business told employees she had a "personal patient" coming in. The patient turned out to be Herron, now about 26 weeks pregnant.

One former employee overheard Biskind tell a medical assistant to take an ultrasound from a different angle to make Herron appear to be less than 24 weeks pregnant.

Herron underwent a procedure to begin dilating her cervix, then went home. She returned the next day about noon; Biskind began the abortion a little after noon and finished at 12:40 p.m. When Herron went into the recovery room, there was no nurse present. The nurse on duty had left about 10 minutes earlier.

Several medical assistants were present, two of them new and untrained. About 2 p.m., the assistants started to worry because Herron was still bleeding. Biskind told the assistants over the phone to give Herron medication for the bleeding.

Herron remained in the recovery room, bleeding, for another two hours. At about 3:50 p.m., the frantic medical assistants asked the administrator to call 911. The supervisor insisted on paging Biskind first, saying she didn’t "want trouble," a former employee said.

"There had to have been four other girls (medical assistants) in there," she continued. "None of them wanted to do anything. They were all scared. Two of them were brand new to the [abortion facility]. . . . They didn’t know what to do."

Biskind told the employees to call paramedics. "He made it very clear that he was not coming back," the ex-employee said. "When the ambulance got there, (the administrator) kept stressing to them that she didn’t want them to put the sirens on because she didn’t want to alarm anybody."

On the 911 tape, the caller, another medical assistant, first tells the Phoenix Fire Department dispatcher to keep the sirens off and to come to the back of the clinic. She then tells the dispatcher the nature of the emergency. The dispatcher repeatedly asks the caller whether the clinic has oxygen. The caller says she doesn’t know.

When paramedics arrived, CPR was not being administered, said Division Chief Bob Khan, so paramedics began the procedure. Paramedics were concerned about the large amount of blood Herron had lost, Khan said.

Herron was pronounced dead across the street at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death was hemorrhaging from a punctured uterus as a result of the abortion.

Authorities began looking into the abortion facility after baby was born whose age of gestation was misdiagnosed.

In that incident, Biskind began the abortion, but wound up delivering a full-term baby girl. The child, who suffered a skull fracture and two deep lacerations, fortunately shows no signs of brain damage.

Carol Stuart-Schadoff, the abortion facility administrator, was charged with negligent homicide and received only four years probation and community service.

"During the sentencing," Wikfors explained, "Biskind turned to the family of LouAnne Herron and stated, ‘I goofed.’ It was clear that Biskind continued to show reckless disregard for his actions and the value of human life."

Biskind had a history of malpractice relating to abortion.

In January 1996, state medical examiners issued a "decree of censure” against Biskind in connection with the February 1995 death of a Flagstaff woman who hemorrhaged from a lacerated uterus after Biskind aborted her unborn child.

In February 1990, the state medical board issued a "letter of concern” to Biskind after he tried to abort a 28-week-old baby, then sent the mother home on antibiotics. Eleven days later she returned to Biskind’s facility and delivered a 3 pound, 9 ounce infant.

In June 1991, Biskind received a letter of concern for inappropriately signing blank and undated prescription forms.