Fieger Will Represent Family of Girl Who Died From Abortion, Despite Confusion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 12, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Fieger Will Represent Family of Girl Who Died From Abortion, Despite Confusion

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
April 12, 2004

Southfield, MI ( — In an interview with, Geoffrey Fieger, said that he is filing the sole wrongful death suit for the family of Tamiia Russell, the 15-year-old Detroit girl who died following an abortion at the WomanCare of Southfield abortion facility.

"I am the attorney in the case," Fieger told "There can only be one wrongful death suit per case in Michigan, and I am representing the family"

Fieger, the attorney who represented assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, added that Russell’s mother and grandmother had retained him as their representative.

There has been some dispute as to which attorney will handle the case. Feiger told he will represent Tamiia’s family and indicated that other Detroit-area media outlets were incorrect in saying another attorney would file suit.

The newspaper had indicated prominent trial lawyer Sam Bernstein would represent the Russell family. previously reported that Fieger’s firm, and likely Fieger himself, would handle the case.

Meanwhile, the issue of Tamiia’s guardianship is also creating confusion.

At the press conference, Nicole Redden, Tamiia Russell’s cousin, told reporters that Tamiia’s aunt, Denise Russell, was her legal guardian. Redden said that Tamiia’s mother, Frances, was not able to take care of her daughter.

Frances Russell, who lives with her sister Denise, also previously told reporters Bernstein was representing the family.

But several local news reporters left Friday’s press conference before Redden had arrived and did not get to hear her account of what had happened.

What happened to Tamiia points to a little girl seemingly exploited by a much older boyfriend and whose caretakers didn’t help matters.

On January 7, after Tamiia became pregnant, Taisha Glenn, the sister of Russell’s 24-year-old boyfriend, Stacy Glenn, had taken Russell to the abortion facility without permission or notifying Russell’s mother or guardian. Stacy paid the $2,000 cost for the late-term abortion.

Glenn and Russell went to five other abortion facilities before coming to WomanCare. The other abortion businesses turned them away because Russell was too far along in her pregnancy, Redden said. One had even offered prenatal care and vitamins for Russell to carry the child to term.

Redden said that Tamiia used an identification card with another woman’s picture to state she was 19, as abortions cannot be performed on minors in Michigan without parental consent.

According to Redden, the woman in the picture ID looked nothing like Russell — but the abortion was done anyway.

The facility vaginally inserted laminaria, a seaweed used to begin dilation. Russell was sent home, where she confessed to her family that she was pregnant and had begun the abortion procedure.

When her mother and aunt called WomanCare, they said the abortion could not be stopped once the laminaria is inserted.

However, according to eMedicine Journal, though there are some medical risks, "pregnancies have safely been carried to term after laminaria insertion and removal." In fact, many crisis pregnancy centers offer laminaria removal for women who have changed their minds after beginning an abortion procedure.

Russell’s mother drove her daughter to the abortion facility the next day to finish the abortion, which was performed by Alberto Hodari. Upon her return home, she experienced severe bleeding — "so much so she soaked an entire mattress," Redden told

WomanCare told her family that such bleeding was "normal" following an abortion, and not to take her to the hospital. However, the family called paramedics anyway who rushed her to Sinai-Grace Hospital. Russell died on the way to the hospital.

Steven Brown of the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office told the cause of death for Russell was listed as, "Uterine infarction with sepsis, due to status post second trimester abortion."

Dr. Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society, told reporters of 23 lawsuits from the past 20 years that had been filed against WomanCare facilities and Alberto Hodari. All had been dismissed, with many referring to an undisclosed settlement. The suits were filed for various injuries suffered as the result of abortions, including hysterectomies on 19, 22, and 23-year-old women, and even the death of Chivon Williams in 1996, who died after having a first-trimester abortion performed by Hodari.

Oakland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jim Halushka told that his office has reviewed an initial investigation by police into the abortion. If the abortion facility knew that Russell was under 18, they could be charged with a misdemeanor for performing an abortion on a minor. The investigation was turned back over to police for further investigation.

State Attorney General Mike Cox told WDEO Radio by email that he is looking into the incident, and one of his staff confirmed the state’s interest in the case.

As Russell resided in Wayne County, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has jurisdiction over the statutory rape. However, as the family apparently did not know Russell was pregnant until the day before she died, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office told Thursday that there may not be a case – the parents or guardians must make the complaint, and once the minor is dead, the complaint of statutory rape cannot be filed.

The uterine infarction that killed Russell was due to blockage in her uterine blood vessel and the resulting sepsis infection is what also caused the death of Holly Patterson in California. Patterson had been given the abortion drug RU 486 by a California Planned Parenthood facility, which had also not notified her parents.