BATON ROUGE, La. — As the trial of Kermit Gosnell drew to an end, someone who had received little attention was Gosnell’s former boss, Leroy Brinkley.
Brinkley is the owner of the Atlantic Women’s Medical Services abortion facility in Wilmington, Del., where Gosnell worked.
Brinkley also is the owner of the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, La., an abortion business with a deeply troubled past, as well as facilities in New Orleans.
Now, there is substantial evidence that a situation resembling elements of the Gosnell case existed for years at the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, although the state Department of Health and Hospitals said the facility has improved its operational standards following a 2009 inspection.
Despite a documented history of injured and dead women — as well as allegations of illegal distribution of narcotics, hiring unqualified personnel, failing to report minors, failing to document patients’ procedures and complications, failing to sterilize medical equipment, using rusted equipment on women and multiple failures to maintain basic sanitation — the Delta Clinic remains open and operational.
The Delta Clinic refused to comment on this story for the Register, which was compiled from the grand jury report in the Gosnell case, phone and email interviews, affidavits by former workers and patients, multiple lawsuits filed on behalf of women who have had abortions at the facility, news reports and various other documents reviewed by the Register.
The Women Who Died
Two women are known to have died after leaving the facility following abortions. In June 1984, a 27-year-old woman died from an acute asthma condition after having an abortion. A lawsuit alleged that the abortionist and staff failed to monitor the woman, a lifelong asthmatic, and to promptly call 911 when her condition worsened.
The victim’s family was awarded a financial settlement through the insurance of Dr. Richardson Glidden, the abortionist involved.
The woman’s case against Delta Clinic technically is still active. The problem with proceedings against Delta, according to Rob Talley, the Baton Rouge attorney who has litigated the case, is that “there is no insurance. … The clinic has no assets.”
Brinkley’s business model is to require the abortionists he hires as independent contractors to obtain their own insurance policies, while the business itself doesn’t have a policy, Talley said.
After the abortion procedure, the woman complained of difficulty breathing to a worker, who was an untrained medical professional and didn’t recognize an acute asthmatic condition, Talley said.
Talley added, “Asthma is a contraindication for abortion. The combination of the trauma [of abortion] and the drugs given can induce a severe asthma attack.”
He sees a parallel between the woman he represented and Karnamaya Mongar, the woman who died at Gosnell’s Philadelphia business: “What really struck me is the similarity in the way Gosnell responded to that lady’s acute and critical condition and the way Glidden responded. … They both had no real emergency equipment on site.”
Not Even Pregnant
In January 1990, Ingar Lee Whittington Weber died of acute kidney failure after an attempted abortion at Delta. Talley represented her family in a lawsuit against the hospital that treated her after the abortion.
The Weber case was “unbelievable,” Talley said. “When I met with the pathologist who did the autopsy, the first thing she told me was this lady was not pregnant,” he said.
Weber had been suffering from kidney failure for months before going to Delta, and she was gaining weight from the buildup of fluids in her system, he said. Her condition also affected her mental stability, and, imagining she was pregnant, she wanted to have an abortion.
At Delta, Weber experienced acute renal failure. “Any competent physician would have been able to ascertain that her condition was serious,” Talley said.
Glidden performed an evacuation of her empty uterus and sent her out the door. She died four days later.
On the stand during the civil suit, Glidden claimed that Weber’s pregnancy test was positive, but the facility had no record of it, Talley said. The judge held Delta Clinic and Glidden partially responsible for her death, and they subsequently settled for what Talley describes as a “nominal amount.”
Mike Johnson, a pro-life attorney in Shreveport, La., who has represented women who alleged they had botched abortions at Delta, told the Register that late-term abortions were done there “for a premium price.”
A Delta worker described seeing the results of an illegal late-term abortion past 22 weeks, as reported in local news station WAFB’s story on the facility that aired in 1999.
When the baby was brought back to the scrub room, the worker said, “Everybody commented on the fact that, uh, it almost had its own personality by then. It was fully formed. It had features, you know. … It was bad.”
Brinkley has also been linked to late-term abortions performed by Gosnell in Philadelphia. One of them, involving a baby boy at least as old as 32-weeks gestation, allegedly was delivered alive before Gosnell killed him. The boy’s 17-year-old mother had gone first to Brinkley’s Delaware business, where Gosnell gave her the drugs to induce labor, completing the abortion a day later at the Philadelphia facility.
According to lawsuits filed against the Delta facility and affidavits from victims, there have been many women who have suffered severe complications from abortions at Delta, many of them resulting in hysterectomies, amputations and, in one case, a colostomy bag and lifelong medical treatment.
But in an interview with the Register, Yigal Bander, an attorney who has represented Delta Clinic for 10 to 12 years, countered, “In all the years, there has not been a single judgment against Delta.” However, he could recall two claims that were settled with the plaintiffs.
Charlotte Bergeron, a pro-life attorney in Baton Rouge, represented “Jane Doe” in a lawsuit filed against Delta in April 2012 for an abortion she had at Delta Clinic in April 2009. After a medical abortion (using abortifacient RU-486) failed to expel her unborn child, Doe testified in an affidavit that she had to return for a surgical abortion performed without anesthesia.
As Doe cried and writhed in pain, the abortionist scolded her for moving on the table.
“When the procedure was over, I mentioned to the front desk about the pain,” Doe’s affidavit stated. “The rude lady told me that I did not have anesthesia because I did not pay for the ‘Twilight Abortion.’ I was in total shock at that moment. … [The abortionist] made me suffer without anesthesia because she was not getting paid extra to care for me.”
The term “twilight” refers to a higher level of sedation for which a patient pays extra, a term also used at Gosnell’s business.
Since her painful experience, Doe has become a pro-life supporter, hoping her witness will encourage other women to choose life.
She got a tattoo of a butterfly with a broken wing to remind her of the child she lost.
Said Doe, “Every day I regret having the abortion and wish I had known other options.”
Janneke Pieters writes from New Orleans.