By Dave Andrusko
For the second time in the 20+ year career of notorious abortionist Steven Brigham, New Jersey prosecutors have tried to yank his license for performing abortions started in one state and ended in another. The first attempt in the early 1990s failed, but there is hope for prosecution number two.
Here’s how Marie McCullough of the Philadelphia Inquirer began her story that ran Friday:
“South Jersey-based abortion provider Steven Brigham, who has spent much of his two-decade career fighting charges of misconduct and negligence, suffered a major blow Thursday in his bid to keep his medical license in New Jersey.
“An administrative judge recommended permanent revocation of Brigham’s medical privileges, which were suspended almost four years ago after one of his patients was critically injured during a botched abortion.”
Both sides have until September 15 to respond to Judge Masin’s ruling. The Board of Medical Examiners will then hear oral arguments from the attorneys and issue a final ruling.
In New Jersey clinics abortions after 14 weeks are supposed to be performed at a licensed ambulatory facility or a hospital. Brigham’s clinic was not licensed as such a facility, moreover he lacked both hospital admitting privileges and obstetrical training in the state.
So what Brigham did was to induce the baby’s death in New Jersey but deliver the dead child in another state. This multi-state practice only came to light when women were seriously hurt.
In this case, an 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant, almost died. The young woman’s cervix was dilated at Brigham’s Voorhees, NJ, abortion clinic. She was told to drive to Maryland. According to Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Hermann
“After the woman suffered a ruptured uterus, state officials said Riley put the patient in Brigham’s rented Chevrolet Malibu and drove her Union Hospital in Elkton. The board said she sat in slumped in a wheelchair, nearly unconscious, outside the emergency room, while [Brigham’s worker, Nicola] Riley argued with hospital staff, demanding their identities before treating the woman.
“The woman was flown that day to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for more treatment. State officials said Riley then returned to his clinic in Elkton to perform another abortion. The injured woman survived.”
The doctor who performed emergency surgery on the teenager in a Baltimore hospital went to the Elkton police.
This led authorities to search Brigham’s American Woman’s Services abortion clinic which “revealed a freezer with 35 late-term fetuses inside, including one believed to have been aborted at 36 weeks, authorities said,” the AP reported.
“If the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners upholds the judge’s decision, Brigham, 57, will lose his eight clinics in that state, which have continued to operate and make up the bulk of his multistate business, called American Women’s Services,” McCullough explained.
In an 86-page decision, Judge Jeff S. Masin wrote
“He has suffered license revocations. He has run afoul of the licensing authorities in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. He has a conviction for failure to file income taxes. And here, he has demonstrated a willingness to play fast and loose with the law in Maryland.”
As so often has been the case with Brigham, lax enforcement and vaguely written laws allowed him to skirt various charges.
Brigham’s practice of inducing a baby’s death in Voorhees was not illegal because the wording of New Jersey’s regulation is ambiguous, Judge Masin concluded. But according to McCullough, Masin
“came down on Brigham for his ‘unlawful practice of medicine in the state of Maryland.’
“Masin dismissed Brigham’s defense that he was acting as a medical ‘consultant,’ which would have been permitted under Maryland’s law. Brigham claimed the clinic was run by the man he hired as medical director – George Shepard, an 88-year-old Delaware obstetrician-gynecologist who was partly disabled by a stroke.”
Both sides agreed during the hearings that under New Jersey law, Brigham will not be allowed to own medical clinics in the state if he loses his medical privileges.
As NRL News Today reported previously, there are uncanny parallels to the first attempt to yank Brigham’s license which he attempted to use to his advantage. For example, Brigham argued that since he was exonerated in 1996, New Jersey couldn’t punish him this time around. According to McCullough (who has done the most and best investigative reporting on Brigham)
“Jeri Warhaftig, the N.J. deputy attorney general who was involved at the end of the prosecution of Brigham in the 1990s, faced him again this time around. She pounded him for a history of deception, and for his attempts to portray himself as a victim of anti-abortion activism.
“’His desire to create a [victim] persona . . . has blinded him to his lack of qualifications,’ she wrote in legal papers.”