Hearing Coming Wednesday for Abortion Practitioner Violating Health Standards
by Steven Ertelt
October 11, 2010
Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners will hold a hearing Wednesday in its case against abortion practitioner and business owner Steven Chase Brigham. He and the state attorney general have gone back and forth in the days leading up to the hearing.
Brigham has been accused of negligence and misconduct for starting late-term abortions in New Jersey and completing the, in Maryland. In at least two cases, Brigham has been accused of injuring patients in the process.
His New Jersey medical license has been suspended based on allegations that he illegally began abortions well beyond the 14 week limit in New Jersey and completed them at the Elkton, Maryland abortion center.
In legal papers his attorneys filed Thursday with New Jersey, Brigham says state officials can’t punish him because he is doing the same thing he was in the 1990s, for which he says he has been exonerated.
"Ludicrous," New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Jeri Warhaftig responded, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. He said the previous ruling "did not relieve [Brigham] of the burden of exercising good medical judgment or the obligation to play by the rules."
The mid-1990s case Brigham refers to, according to Operation Rescue, was based in part on the 1994 New York case that resulted in the revocation of his medical license in that state. It detailed case after case of botched abortions and other miseries, describing what amounted to a shop of horrors operated by Brigham that also crossed state lines.
Brigham would insert laminaria in late-term patients at his office in Voorhees, New Jersey, then transport the women to New York for completion of their abortions.
While the charges were serious enough for New York to revoke his medical license, New Jersey Administrative Law Judge Joseph F. Fidler, relying heavily on testimony from other abortion practitioners, dismissed virtually all of the charges with the exception of dishonesty for advertising that his abortions were "safe" and "painless."
Brigham argues that this settled the matter for good and that the Board has no right to return to the issue of laminaria insertion after 14 weeks at his unapproved facility. Judge Fidler’s ruling and the Board’s letter are viewed as if Brigham has been provided with unlimited prosecutorial immunity.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s office sees it another way, according to files Operation Rescue obtained.
It says Judge Fidler’s findings "did not, and could not, establish a standard of care for decades to come" and only applied to the case before him. It describes how Brigham’s recent actions have gone well beyond simple laminaria insertion to actually initiating abortions for which he is unqualified and/or are illegal in New Jersey.
"The 1996 Order of the Board does not accord [Brigham] free rein to engage in the violative acts alleged by the Attorney General," the brief read.
Brigham again submitted testimony in his defense from fellow abortion practitioner Gary L. Mucciolo of New York, who suggests that Brigham never violated the standard of care in the abortions that landed two women in the hospital.
"This is a case of one shady abortionist protecting another, said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
The Inquirer newspaper indicates Brigham also filed papers in response to Maryland charges that he is practicing medicine without a license. The papers say Brigham was merely "engaging in consultation" and he asked the Maryland Board of Physicians to dismiss his case and allow him "to continue providing demonstrations, training, and assistance to Maryland doctors who seek his expertise and guidance."
Brigham’s late-term abortion scheme was discovered when a patient suffered a life-threatening complication in Elkton and had to be air-lifted to Johns Hopkins Medical Center for emergency surgery.
Two of Brigham’s associate abortion practitioners, Nicola Riley and George Shepard, Jr. have also had their Maryland medical licenses suspended for aiding and abetting Brigham’s illegal late-term abortion scheme and other violations.
Brigham severely injured a teenage girl in a botched abortion and has been accused of injuring other women as well.
Brigham is not allowed to do late-term abortions in New Jersey, one of the four states in which he owns an abortion business, because he doesn’t meet the state’s medical requirements.
One abortion using his method went so poorly, Brigham was forced to take the teenager to a local Maryland hospital — and she eventually had to be airlifted to Johns Hopkins Medical center because the abortion caused a perforated uterus and it required immediate surgery.
Recently, the New Jersey attorney general’s office accused Brigham of violating standards of care for four additional women seeking abortions at his centers. One case involves a woman from Canada whose Down syndrome child was killed in a late-term abortion. https://www.lifenews.com/state5477.html
Attorney General Paula Dow wants Brigham’s license suspended and he has already agreed to stop practicing medicine at his abortion centers in Voorhees, Woodbridge, Phillipsburg and Toms River.
Brigham’s attorney, Joseph Gorrell, submitted legal papers saying rejecting the state’s claim that he violated state laws saying abortions done after 14 weeks must be done in a hospital.
"The medical care provided by” Brigham "was consistent with applicable standards of care,” the response said, according to a State Ledger newspaper report.
Gorrell, the paper reports, also says the state has no jurisdiction on the abortions Brigham completed in Maryland.
The state’s complaint also says none of the abortion centers Brigham operates are licensed ambulatory care facilities, it points out he has no admitting privileges at any New Jersey hospital and he is not trained as an obstetrician or gynecologist.
An Associated Press report indicates the new concerns revolve around an August abortion Brigham did on a 35-year-old Canadian woman who was 33 weeks pregnant at the time. The unborn child was healthy in all respects, medical records show, and was targeted for an abortion only because of the Down syndrome.
Brigham employed his technique of starting the abortion in New Jersey and he then instructed the woman to drive to Maryland herself to complete the procedure.
The medical records do not say who completed the abortion in Maryland, where Brigham is not licensed to practice medicine.
AP indicates Dr. Gary Brickner wrote an expert opinion in the investigation saying the abortion procedure "seriously violated medical standards of care and, to my knowledge, is not sanctioned by any statute or regulation." He said the abortion "did not involve a fetus with a lethal defect or a condition dangerous to the mother’s health."
The document AP cites also mentions another case involving a woman who was in the 24th week of pregnancy. She was slated to complete her abortion in Maryland but began experiencing heavy bleeding while staying in a New Jersey hotel room and she eventually delivered a stillborn baby in a local hospital.
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