Planned Parenthood in Nebraska Settles Near-Death Botched Abortion Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 27, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Planned Parenthood in Nebraska Settles Near-Death Botched Abortion Lawsuit

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 27
, 2008

Lincoln, NE ( — A Nebraska Planned Parenthood has settled a lawsuit filed by a Nebraska woman after a botched abortion that resulted in the perforating of her uterus and a severe loss of blood. According to doctors who treated the woman after the failed abortion, the procedure could have taken her life.

After the botched abortion, physicians had to perform an emergency hysterectomy on her and she is now unable to have children.

The unnamed woman filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood of Nebraska and Council Bluffs on September 3 with the help of Lincoln attorney Jefferson Downing.

Downing filed the suit in Lancaster County District Court and the woman has issued a complaint to the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department.

"Our client has filed these complaints to bring to light the negligent actions of Planned Parenthood and Dr. (Meryl) Severson," Downing said in a statement.

Attorney James Snowden filed a response to the lawsuit on Planned Parenthood’s behalf and claimed the woman was informed of the risks of having an abortion beforehand and that Severson did the abortion "with great care."

On Tuesday, Snowden said Planned Parenthood settled the lawsuit and told AP the terms of the settlement are confidential.

The woman had sought $37,000 medical expenses and additional compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering, but the terms make it impossible to know if Planned Parenthood of Nebraska and Council Bluffs paid any of that amount.

Snowden said in his legal papers originally responding to the lawsuit that the woman in question had a previous abortion and should have already known the risks from that abortion. He said Planned Parenthood again counseled her about abortion’s risks beforehand.

The woman had the abortion at the Lincoln abortion center in August and she was ultimately taken to a local hospital where she lost 80 percent of her blood and experienced severe pain, according to AP.

An ultrasound done prior to the abortion found the woman was eight weeks pregnant and had a tilted uterus.

After waiting several hours, the woman was taken into an exam room and given a shot in her cervix. She then heard a suction sound and "immediately complained of excruciating pain," according to the lawsuit.

She told the abortion practitioner and his assistants to stop, but Severson allegedly replied, "We can’t stop."

According to the lawsuit, a copy of which was originally provided to, three Planned Parenthood employees held the woman down while Severson completed the abortion. The woman experienced severe pain and bleeding afterwards and experienced three seizures by the time she was rushed to BryanLGH Medical Center East.

A hospital report said her uterus was perforated in the abortion and doctors there had to perform an emergency hysterectomy because of the severe damage to her body.

"Had she not received emergency care when she did, it is my professional opinion that the patient could have hemorrhaged to death," the doctor said, according to a signed statement Downing obtained.

Downing said the woman felt violated by the abortion and her treatment at Planned Parenthood and was not named in the lawsuit to protect her privacy.

Severson resigned form the University of Nebraska Medical Center in March 2001 after doing an abortion there outside college policy. He subsequently joined Planned Parenthood as an abortion practitioner.