Tribune Story Reveals that Thousands of abortions not reported to Illinois State Health Department, System “broken”

By Dave Andrusko

A front page story in the Chicago Tribune yesterday paints a scary picture of a state reporting system so broken that “regulators have documented between 7,000 and 17,000 fewer abortions a year than a national research group found in Illinois,” according to reporter Megan Twohey.

And nearly “4,000 reports of abortion complications involving Illinois residents in 2009 were missing the required description.”

In theory, the Illinois Department of Public Health collect details about every abortion, including whether the patient is injured or dies. This is important for obvious reasons but also because it’s the only way authorities can monitor some abortionists.

“[Y]et regulators may be allowing doctors and clinics to operate off the books,” Twohey writes. “Regulators collect reports from 26 providers, but the abortion rights research group[the Guttmacher Institute] has identified 37 providers doing business in the state.”

What explains the differing number of abortion providers? It’s merely because they use “different counting methods,” according to Kelly Jakubek, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health. She said Guttmacher’s “tally includes hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices,” Twohey reports.

“Jakubek said the 26 providers identified by state regulators ‘only includes facilities,’ but declined to elaborate on her definition of facility.”

According to the story, it’s a criminal offense not to fill out accurate and complete reports “and a failure to report abortion complications is grounds for revoking their licenses.” So how many disciplinary actions has the Department of Public Health sought? None.

State health officials seemed positively lackadaisical about the gaps in information, and their responsibilities. In a written response Jakubek “said that it was the responsibility of abortion doctors [!] to ensure they comply with the mandatory reporting requirement,” Twohey writes.

Pro-abortionists in Illinois took the same tack as their cohorts in Pennsylvania when abortionist Kermit Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder: “it’s only a problem with the worst providers,” according to  Stanley Henshaw, a prominent researcher for Guttmacher. But even though “Planned Parenthood and Family Planning Associates, said they were diligent about complying,” they do not come off scot-free Twohey’s thickly researched story.

For example, “Planned Parenthood could not confirm for the Tribune whether it had reported the 2002 death of [Maurice] Stevenson’s wife, only that it had reported the 2008 death of another patient.” (Stevenson’s wife died of a blood infection in 2002 after undergoing an abortion at Planned Parenthood.) ”The organization said it had no reason to believe the 2002 death was not reported but that the records were in storage.” Storage!

In addition, “Family Planning Associates said it could not confirm whether it had reported three deaths, in 1998, 1999 and 2000,” Twohey reported.

Ironically, today, one day after Twohey’ story ran, the long, long-running legal battle over Illinois’ never enforced parental notification law took another unfortunate turn.  The Illinois Appellate Court sent the law back to the circuit court for trial to determine its fate, reversing a decision by the Cook County Circuit Court, which in March 2010 had lifted a restraining order on the law.

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