By Dave Andrusko
A three-judge panel of the Appellate Court of Illinois has unanimous ruled that an abortion clinic in Linwood, Illinois, need not pay a fine that followed the death of 18-year-old Antonesha Ross.
“The clinic owner, Larisa Rozansky, has argued that the Women’s Aid Clinic, which filed for bankruptcy before closing in 2011, has no money to pay the fine and that her new clinic, the Women’s Aid Center, is an entirely separate entity that cannot be held responsible,” the Chicago Tribune’s Nara Schoenberg reported.
On the face of it, Rozansky’s assertion does not pass the straight face test.
The Women’s Aid Center, the Illinois Department of Public Health pointed out, has two of the same phone numbers as the Women’s Aid Clinic “and that for a while it had the same website and location,” according to Schoenberg.
The fine was $36,000. The state sought $3,135 held in the new clinic’s bank accounts, but the panel affirmed the decision of Cook County Circuit Court Judge Alexander White who ruled that Women’s Aid Clinic need pay the state only the $77 it had left in its bank account.
Scott Skaletsky, Rozansky’s lawyer, told the Tribune, “Looks like we were successful, and I’m happy about that. I believe justice was served.”
“We are disappointed in the ruling,” said Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for the Illinois attorney general’s office. “Our appellate attorneys are analyzing the decision, but they do not currently see a basis to ask the Supreme Court to take an appeal.”
All the legalese, of course, misses why the abortion clinic was fined in the first place. Schoenberg reported
The old clinic was fined $9,000 for failing to specify in writing which medical conditions would make a patient ineligible for an abortion, a violation stemming from the care of Ross, who died of severe pneumonia a few hours after a first-trimester abortion. The clinic was also fined $18,000 for failing to hire a registered nurse to supervise care and circulate in the operating room, and $9,000 for sanitary and equipment issues.
A state inspection report that “triggered” all that followed cited nightmarish conditions at the Women’s Aid Clinic and the failure of clinic employees to give Ross CPR following her abortion when she had breathing problems. “Instead, the report said, she was offered a bag to breathe into.”
Inspectors found fetal or placental tissue in a biohazard refrigerator that also contained stored medications and frozen dinners. “A recovery room technician was observed taking a paper towel from the garbage and using it to cover a tray used to serve food to patients,” Schoenberg reported.
Not until well into the story do we learn that the Ross estate had filed a malpractice lawsuit which was settled for $550,500 in 2010. The Women’s Aid Clinic paid $475,000 while the nurse anesthetist paid the remainder.
Back in February the Tribune ran a story detailing the death of Ms. Ross, and the battle to make the abortion clinic pay the fine.
“For us to not get justice — for them to not pay the fine — it’s not right. It’s just not right,” Ross’ cousin Janell Austin Tuft told the Tribune at the time.