Unlicensed Abortion Center Owner Pleads No Contest, Likely Headed to Prison
by Steven Ertelt
December 2, 2008
Los Angeles, CA (LifeNews.com) — The owner of a chain of abortion centers in California entered a no contest plea on Monday to charges of pretending to be a physician and doing abortions without a medical license. Bertha Pinedo Bugarin, 48, pleaded to seven felony counts in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Bugarin was ordered to pay $7,800 in restitution to 16 former patients whose lives she put at risk by doing abortions on them or giving them the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug without having medical training.
District attorney spokeswoman Shiara Davila told AP that nine counts will be dismissed but said Bugarin will still be sentenced on January 20 as part of the plea agreement.
As a result, the abortion facility owner will face as much as 10 years in state prison.
Had she been found guilty and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law on all charges, Bugarin could have faced 15 years in prison.
Bugarin also faces charges in San Diego on the same counts of doing unlicensed abortions. She had a hearing in that case earlier this month, and she is scheduled for trial in San Diego sometime next year.
She could be headed to jail for nine years in association with those charges if found guilty.
Bugarin’s sister, Raquel, was also charged in relation to the case, but earlier took a plea bargain that would have made her testify against her sister if a trial would have proceeded.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman has been closely following the case and helped expose some of the problems.
"We are praying that Ms. Bugarin goes to jail for a very long time," he told LifeNews.com on Tuesday.
"Bugarin is a cold-hearted predator who sought out human misery in order to profit from it. She showed no remorse or sorrow for the women she preyed upon. She has shown only contempt for the law," Newman said. "The only way to protect women from further exploitation at Bugarin’s hands is to put her in jail, or, mark my words, she’ll be back at it again."
Prosecutors have found at least nine women who have said Bugarin did abortions on them and one of the women had to be hospitalized three times because of complications from the failed abortion. She eventually gave birth prematurely and the baby died three hours later.
Another woman had to return to the abortion center a second time because Bugarin allegedly botched the first attempt at doing the abortion.
After learning of the unlicensed abortions, officials arrested Bugarin.
Bugarin operates several abortion businesses in the southern California area operating under the name Clinica Medica Para La Mujer De Hoy that Newman says prey on Latino women. At its height of prosperity, the chain ran eleven abortion centers, but problems with the incompetent abortion practitioners hired by Bugarin troubled the chain.
Newman said it would be a mistake to believe that Bugarin’s actions are an isolated incident.
"Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that Bugarin’s crimes are an anomaly," said Newman to LifeNews.com.
"She was just unfortunate enough to get caught. In reality, illegal practices take place every day at our nation’s abortion mills. We haven’t met an abortionist yet that did not think he or she was above the law. In this case, we are grateful for the prosecution of Bugarin, but saddened that it took so many years – and so many broken lives – to bring her to justice," he added.
As LifeNews.com reported earlier, the Chula Vista office has been closed by state officials.
According to Operation Rescue, abortion practitioner Nolan Jones, who has his own problems with state medical authorities with numerous cases of Medical Board disciplinary action for botched abortions, is running them.
Organization spokeswoman Cheryl Sullenger told LifeNews.com that Jones filed for bankruptcy for substantial amounts of debt in 2003 and has bounced around several southern California abortion centers moving to new ones when others close for medical problems or other reasons.
Nicholas Braemer, the medical director of the abortion centers, surrendered his medical license under pressure in 2000 after Operation Rescue exposed his numerous botched abortions and other problems.
He was replaced as medical director by Laurence Reich, a convicted sex offender, who lost his medical license in 2006 for continued episodes of sexual abuse against his abortion patients.
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