By Dave Andrusko
From the Baltimore Sun Blog yesterday:
“The [new abortion clinic draft] regulations were issued in response to a high-profile incident last fall when a woman was critically injured at an Elkton clinic run by Steven C. Brigham, a man who did not have a license to practice medicine in Maryland. His unorthodox approach involved initiating abortions in New Jersey and instructing patients to drive to Maryland where he completed the surgery.”
“Unorthodox”? More about Brigham in a second. Suffice it to say he has been in legal hot water for decades.
The regulations were a defensive response to stave off legislation. According to a story that ran April 1 in the Maryland Gazette, a number of bills were proposed after the Brigham scandal became public. One proposed bill in the General Assembly would have required abortion clinics to follow the same safety and sanitation guidelines as freestanding ambulatory care facilities.
However “Bills requiring higher safety standards at abortion clinics were shelved after state health department officials promised to craft new regulations to govern the clinics,” according to the Gazette’s Jeff Newman.
In a statement, the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene claimed the draft regulations “reflect the right balance of preserving both safety and access.”
Reading the proposed regulations from you learn that Maryland abortion clinics must show that they have qualified anesthesia providers, develop emergency plans “should procedures go awry” (as the Sun puts it matter-of-factly), have a staff member available 24 hours a day for emergencies, apply for a state license, and, oh by the way, be inspected! Abortion clinics in Maryland are not inspected!
Failure to compile to the draft regulations would generate a $1,000 penalty—or possible loss of license.
No wonder Kansas abortionist LeRoy Carhart relocated to a Maryland suburb: it’s the wild, wild East.
Brigham’s checkered past– Brigham has now had his license pulled, suspended or relinquished in a total of five states– has drawn even the fire of pro-abortion sources. (See here). Brigham has been the subject of investigations for botched abortions and other violations in New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, and California.
But the behavior that moved even the state of Maryland to take tentative steps is remarkable even by Brigham’s standards.
New Jersey law requires abortions over 14 weeks to be done in a hospital or ambulatory care facility. Brigham’s clinic is not licensed as such a facility, and he lacks both hospital admitting privileges and obstetrical training in the state.
“Dr. Brigham has consistently and repetitively engaged in manipulative and deceptive behavior designed to circumvent the requirements of the board’s termination of pregnancy regulation and to eviscerate the protections that those regulations seek to afford to New Jersey patients,” the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners said in its ruling last year suspending his license.
Deputy Attorney General Jeri Warhaftig told the board that in the most recent cases Brigham did not merely dilate the women’s cervixes in New Jersey and then bring them to Maryland for the actual abortion. He also gave the women drugs that caused “fetal demise,” putting them at “points of no return beyond which an abortion cannot be discontinued,” Warhaftig said, according to the Star-Ledger.
Since New Jersey law requires abortions over 14 weeks to be done in a hospital or ambulatory care facility, and Brigham’s Voorhees clinic is not licensed as such, the abortions he began there violated state law and put the women at risk of serious injury, according to the attorney general’s office. The board agreed, stating that “his continued practice presents a clear and imminent danger,” the Star-Ledger reported.
In a typical incident, after Brigham “administered a drug that killed the fetus” at his Voorhees, New Jersey, clinic, the pregnant woman was told to drive to Elkton, Maryland, the next day, where the now-dead baby was dismembered and removed, according to the Associated Press. Brigham did not have a Maryland license.
After the scheme was discovered, investigators searched the Elkton clinic, “where a chest freezer held about 35 late-term fetuses,” the Courier-Post reported.
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