Medical Examiner Won’t Release Autopsy of Botched Abortion Victim

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 9, 2012   |   11:39AM   |   Washington, DC

A pro-life legal group looking for more information into the death of a women who died after having an abortion at Planned Parenthood in Chicago is upset that local Chicago officials are not more forthcoming with a report on what happened.

The death of Tonya Reaves, a 24 year-old who died after an abortion at Planned Parenthood’s Loop Health Center in Chicago, has remained a mystery in part because employees at the Chicago Office of the Medical Examiner failed to comply with a request from the pro-life legal group Life Legal Defense Foundation. LLDF is wanting Reaves’ autopsy report, especially in light of the way in which Planned Parenthood failed to call 911 and did not seek emergency medical assistance for Reaves until five hours after the abortion.

Allison Aranda, a staff attorney at LLDF says the controversial manner of Reaves’ death on July 20 should be triggering a hailstorm of calls for better legislation and oversight in Illinois with regard to abortion businesses. She condemns Illinois for being one of the few states allowing abortion providers to function virtually unfettered with little or no oversight.

Regarding the medical examiner’s report, Aranda told LifeNews that a formal public records request for Reaves’ autopsy report was made in writing on July 23 by a staff member of Operation Rescue, who received a denial of her request via telephone. The caller, from the medical examiner’s office, informed Operation Rescue that their request was denied because they did not have family authorization or a subpoena.

Aranda said Illinois law specifically states that all records in the custody or possession of a public body are presumed to be open to inspection or copying, and nowhere does the state exempt autopsy reports from compliance.

“The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Guide for Law Enforcement published July 12, 2012 by the Attorney General’s Office specifically states that autopsy reports are public records and should be released,” she noted. “A 2010 Illinois Public Access Counselor review also stated clearly that autopsy reports in the files of the medical examiner are within the provenance of the FOIA and concluded that, ‘the reports are public records and should be released.'”

“The medical examiner’s office has no basis to deny my client’s request for the autopsy report involving the deceased Tonya Reaves,” explained Aranda, who called for immediate compliance from the medical examiner.

In the event that Operation Rescue’s lawful request for this public document is not met, Aranda promised legal action. She also noted that the medical examiner is already in violation of Illinois law, which provides that, “Each public body denying a request for public records shall notify the requester in writing of the decision to deny the request, the reasons for the denial, including a detailed factual basis for the application of any exemption claimed, and the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial.”

Aranda concluded, “Operation Rescue received none of this required due process of law in their valid FOIA request for the autopsy report of Tonya Reaves.”



The LLDF’s letter to the Office of the Medical Examiner can be read at