Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Planned Parenthood: Been There Done That [SK]

...getting sued for not finishing the fetus off, that is.

Check out this story from March 2001. Here are the relevant quotes:

S.F. woman wins abortion lawsuit

By Daniel Evans of the Examiner Staff

A woman who remained pregnant following a botched abortion three years ago has been awarded $672,610 from Planned Parenthood.

As the court clerk read the jury's award Wednesday, the woman, whose fetus lost two limbs in the abortion attempt before being terminated months later, lowered her head and wept, convinced her three-year court battle was finally over. And it is, but only for now. An attorney for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, which oversees nine clinics in the Bay Area, vowed to appeal the award...(Emph. added)

Trial dealt only with pain

The three-week trial dealt only with how much J.B. was owed for her pain, whether Planned Parenthood was liable. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Douglas Munson ordered the reproductive rights organization be held responsible for its failure to turn over critical medical documents to J.B. and her lawyer.

Stocker said she would not comment on why Planned Parenthood refused to turn over the documents, saying only that the organization felt they were "irrelevant" to the woman's case. But J.B. said the documents -- which include internal Planned Parenthood procedures and her medical records --must have contained something the organization didn't want her to see.

"If someone is covering up the evidence, it's obvious they have something to hide," J.B. said. "Why would you wash your hands if they weren't bloody?" The woman, a Yugoslav immigrant, described her experience in her testimony and in the original lawsuit.

In October 1997, she discovered she was pregnant and went to Planned Parenthood. But the care she received at the clinic on Eddy Street was less than ideal, said her lawyer, Chris Dolan. The first-trimester abortion J.B. sought went awry. Medical experts testified that J.B. was probably pregnant with twins. But the procedure she underwent in December 1997 only fully removed one fetus.

Though she was told the abortion was complete, J.B. said, she still felt pregnant two weeks later in a follow-up exam, and called several times for advice. Each time, she was told that her symptoms were normal. But on Feb. 18, 1998, J.B. demanded a urine test. The same nurse who had long assured her nothing was wrong came back horrified. J.B. was still pregnant, her lawyer said.

Given a list

She had been carrying the fetus for nearly six months. The Planned Parenthood clinic does not do abortions late in the second trimester, so she was given an apology, a list of providers who would do abortions in the second trimester, and shooed out the door, Dolan said.

Though Planned Parenthood did relent and pay for the second abortion, J.B. was emotionally traumatized, something that would only get worse.

An ultrasound at the Buena Vista women's center revealed the fetus -- or the remaining fetus -- had only one arm and one leg. "She sees the ultrasound, and has an emotional collapse," Dolan said. "She has to go through a three-day procedure to terminate the fetus' life, something that absolutely wrecks her." (Emph. added)

Since that day, Dolan said, his client has been haunted by visions of babies being killed, has contemplated suicide, and cries uncontrollably at the sight of young children -- particularly twins. "She is like a shattered human being," said the attorney, adding that J.B. has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. "She has been unable to be in a relationship since this happened. She can't get in close proximity to a man without shaking and, sometimes, vomiting."

The trial began Feb. 2, and the jury returned its verdict after two days of deliberations. They awarded her $650,000 for mental anguish, $1,870 in past medical costs, $14,500 for future psychiatric expenses and $6,240 in lost earnings. "I think deciding the economic damages were fairly easy," said Paula Brown, who served as the jury's forewoman. "But the non-economic part was more difficult. It's not really easy to put a dollar amount on someone's life...."

In the end, however, Brown said the jury went with Dolan's recommendation, finding it was fair. Fair or not, the award will be reduced, due to a 1975 California law that limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $250,000. Though upheld by the courts on several occasions, the cap has never been increased.
Question for abortion-choicers: Had the dismembered fetus lived (and not been deliberately killed months later), should he/she been allowed to sue for damages?

1 comment:

  1. That's horrible. Keep up the good work Scott.


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