By Dave Andrusko
When it comes to evading censuring, it is fair to say abortionist Steven Brigham has nine lives. The latest attempt to rein in a man who has lost his license in multiple states takes place today.
The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners will consider the recommendation of Administrative Law Judge Jeff S. Masin to permanently revoke Brigham’s medical privileges, which were suspended almost four years ago after one of his teenage patients was critically injured during a late abortion, for practicing without a license in Maryland.
This is the second time in Brigham’s 20+ year career that 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.
“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,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Marie McCullough. McCullough explained how Brigham skirted state law.
“In hearings before Masin last fall and winter, New Jersey prosecutors presented evidence that Brigham – who has never been licensed in Maryland – used a bistate abortion scheme so he could perform late-term abortions for which his New Jersey clinics were not licensed or equipped.
“Brigham induced fetal death in his Voorhees clinic; a few days later, he surgically removed the fetuses at a clinic in Elkton, Md. – a facility so clandestine that even patients were not told where they were going until the last minute.
“The scheme came to light in August 2010 because the 18-year-old patient who was critically injured, and the doctor who performed emergency surgery on her at a Baltimore hospital, went to Elkton police.”
The 18-year-old woman, 21½ weeks pregnant, suffered a lacerated uterus and bowel and needed emergency surgery.
“Masin dismissed Brigham’s defense that he was acting as a medical ‘consultant,’ which would have been permitted under Maryland’s law,” McCullough wrote. “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.” Masin wrote this “was simply a pretense to provide cover for Brigham to maintain a Maryland practice.”
Oddly enough, however, while Masin wrote that Brigham’s “conduct constituted a major violation of professional standards” by practicing medicine in Maryland without holding a license, he dismissed one of the Attorney General’s office’s most significant charges.
The AG’s office, commonsensically, maintained that since Brigham injected digoxin that caused “fetal demise” in his New Jersey office, the abortions actually occurred there, although the dead babies were delivered in Maryland.
Masin disagreed. He wrote that the regulations that define the termination of a pregnancy say that occurs “by surgical means.”
Masin’s 92-page decision was filled with harsh criticisms, although he did add he believed Brigham “had a sincere desire to provide a service to women seeking such procedures . . .limited by legal and possibly financial considerations.”
“The record of Dr. Brigham’s past conduct is troubling. …He has run afoul of the licensing authorities in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. Indeed, part of the Florida discipline, similar to the current case and the violation of Maryland law, involved his practicing in that State in violation of the rules governing eligibility to practice…And here, he demonstrated a willingness to play fast and loose with the law in Maryland that governed his right to practice medicine.”
The unnamed 18-year-old woman almost died. The young woman’s cervix was dilated at Brigham’s Voorhees, New Jersey, 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.
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.”