Nathan Burchfiel | Staff Writer | Monday, September 10, 2007
The lawsuit alleges that Planned Parenthood employees were negligent in their care of "Jane Roe," a 40-year-old patient referred to with a pseudonym in the lawsuit. It also accuses the employees of battery, because it says doctors continued performing the abortion even after "Roe" had asked them to stop.
"Roe" suffered three seizures after obtaining an abortion on Aug. 17, according to the lawsuit. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy, removing her uterus and left ovary.
The medical reports provided by "Roe's" attorneys describe her as having suffered "a catastrophic perforation of her uterus during an abortion procedure" and say doctors discovered a 2.5-to-3 centimeter "gaping wound on the left sidewall."
Advocates for "Roe" declined to name the doctors to protect their professional privacy. "Roe's" attorney, Jefferson Downing, said the doctors would be willing to testify if the case goes to court.
"In my professional opinion these injuries were inflicted during the abortion procedure," one of the doctors said in her report. "Had she not received emergency care when she did, it is my professional opinion that the patient could have hemorrhaged to death."
The lawsuit names Planned Parenthood of Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Inc., and its medical director, Dr. Meryl Severson, as defendants. It seeks unspecified damages, including remittance for physical pain, mental suffering, medical expenses and legal fees.
"Our client feels completely violated," Downing said in a statement. "Her right to choose to have the procedure stopped was ignored, and she was also robbed of her right to choose to have children in the future as well."
Downing, who is affiliated with the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, said the case should illustrate "the dangers of abortion - that it's not just a baby's life that's at stake. Our client doesn't want this horror to happen to anyone else. She believes women have the right to know that they could be risking their lives."
"Planned Parenthood has provided high quality reproductive health care in Nebraska for six years," Bobby Kierstead, a spokeswoman for the organization, told Cybercast News Service . "Patient care and safety are our top priorities, and we take them very seriously."
Kierstead declined to comment specifically on the case, citing "patient privacy requirements." She also refused to answer questions about general practices at Planned Parenthood clinics, including whether or not doctors or counselors discuss potential medical complications with women seeking abortions.
"This is the only statement that we're making at this time," Kierstead repeated.
This is not the first time Planned Parenthood has been sued over a botched abortion. In June, a California woman sued Planned Parenthood for medical malpractice and wrongful death, alleging the abortion provider contributed to her daughter's death.
Planned Parenthood has also faced other recent legal battles. In May, an Ohio teen sued affiliates in Cincinnati, alleging that Planned Parenthood employees failed to report that she was the victim of incest when she sought an abortion.
In May, Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles threatened to sue a student pro-life activist who released undercover videotapes of Planned Parenthood employees telling a girl - who they thought was under 16 - to lie about her age to obtain an abortion without notifying police that the girl was a victim of statutory rape.
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