Medical Board Illegally Closes Hearing on Botched 35-Week Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 29, 2012   |   12:13PM   |   Albuquerque, NM

The state medical board in New Mexico is facing accusations that it illegally closed a hearing to potentially discipline abortion practitioner Shelley Sella, who botched an abortion at 35 weeks of pregnancy that landed the woman in the hospital with a ruptured uterus.

Acting on complaints filed by the pro-life groups Operation Rescue and Project Defending Life, the New Mexico Medical Board has filed a Notice of Contemplated Action alleging gross negligence against Sella.

The abortion took place on May 12, 2011. Tara Shaver of Project Defending Life obtained a copy of the 911 call, which revealed incriminating details of the medical emergency. Shaver worked with Operation Rescue to file a series of complaints that resulted in the Board’s action.

The board scheduled a hearing starting today to determine what, if any, disciplinary action the Board will take, which could include suspension or revocation of Sella’s New Mexico medical license.

However, Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue has informed LifeNews that the New Mexico Medical Board has decided to close the disciplinary hearing. New Mexico has open meeting laws to insure public access to such proceedings. Sella petitioned to close the hearing, Sullenger said.

In response, Project Defending Life and Operation Rescue will hold a press conference today at the New Mexico Medical Society in Albuquerque to complain.

“Women come to Albuquerque from all over the US seeking late-term abortions that are illegal elsewhere only to be placed in grave danger by the negligent incompetence of Shelley Sella,” Sullenger said. “Full term abortions are barbaric and dangerous acts that have no place in a civilized society. When you add in an abortionist that carelessly ignores serious health risk factors, you have a public health disaster. The New Mexico Medical Board is correct to institute disciplinary proceedings against Sella and we call on the Board to revoke Sella’s medical license in the interest of public safety. This closed-door hearing is worrisome and shuts the public out of a proceeding. That makes the entire process suspect, in our opinion.”

New Mexico Medical Board documents say Sella wrongly conducted the dangerous 35-week abortion in a clinic setting instead of a hospital and disregarded the patient’s history of a previous Caesarean Section delivery. The board noted that a Caesarean Section weakens the uterus, increasing the risks of rupture during subsequent labors. Sella is also accused of over-using uterine stimulants, which contributed to the life-threatening rupture.

Sella is a former associate of the late George Tiller, having worked for him at his late-term abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas. When that abortion facility closed in 2009, Sella went to work for Curtis Boyd at Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an affiliate of the National Abortion Federation and doing the same late-term abortions she did in Kansas.

Sella canceled her Kansas medical license the same week the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts notified Operation Rescue that a disciplinary petition had been filed against one of Sella’s Kansas co-workers, Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who had provided improper late-term abortion referrals to Tiller’s abortion clinic.



Testimony taken during Neuhaus’ disciplinary hearings indicated that late-term abortions done in Kansas by Sella were in fact illegal. The KSBHA revoked Neuhaus’ medical license, but because Sella had previously surrendered her license, she was outside their jurisdiction and avoided accountability for her actions.

Sella also works as an abortion practitioner for Planned Parenthood in California, Operation Rescue says.