The State House news reported on our delivery of thousands of petitions opposing the ROE Act today.
ROE Act Opponents Visit Judiciary Committee
ROE Act opponents visited the Judiciary Committee Thursday to deliver signatures from people opposed to the bill, which was the subject of a long public hearing in June. Massachusetts Citizens for Life claims the bill (S 1209 / H 3320) would lower standards of care for women by permitting certain abortions to be undertaken outside of hospital settings. The bill's critics also oppose its changes to parental consent. The ROE Act, backed by a large coalition, eliminates parental consent requirements for teens seeking an abortion, allows abortions after 24 weeks to protect the physical or mental health of a patient, or in cases of diagnosed lethal fetal anomalies, and includes abortion in the pregnancy-related safety net coverage for residents ineligible for MassHealth. C.J. Williams of Mass. Citizens for Life said she turned in 1,654 signatures to Judiciary Committee counsel Jim McCarthy, and new digital signatures were still landing in her email inbox while she stood in the office around 3:20 p.m. ROE Act supporters were also on Beacon Hill Thursday for an advocacy training hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Williams said she hoped to run into them and "have a conversation," but did not encounter any backers of the bill.
- Michael P. Norton/SHNS
In New Mexico, the proposed removal of late term abortion procedures from the hospital setting made by the "R.O.E." Act in Massachusetts is already law. This reduction in standards of care has proved fatal for Keisha Atkins, and deadly or injurious to nearly 25 other women.
By Leslie Palma
Priests for Life Director of Communications
It’s heartbreaking to imagine the last day in the life of Keisha Atkins, a 23-year-old woman who died following a legal abortion, at six months, in New Mexico.
“In our last conversation in the hospital, she said, ‘Mom, I’m going to die,’” recalled Keisha’s mom, Tina Atkins. “And I said, ‘Don’t talk like that, you’re going to be fine.’”
Soon after that, Keisha was taken to the operating room, and Tina never saw her alive again.
Tina described her daughter as “a beautiful, exuberant young lady,” who loved the outdoors and karaoke singing, going to concerts with her mom and just hanging out with family.
“We just had a great life and all of a sudden, it was gone,” Tina said.
The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the late-term abortion business that started the abortion and the hospital where she died.
“They messed with the wrong black woman, because I am not going to step down,” Tina said during an interview with Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, and Alveda King, director of Civil Rights for the Unborn for Priests for Life. Tina has testified before the New Mexico Legislature and is hoping to talk to President Trump about abortions that are killing women and their children.
“This is a tragedy,” Father Pavone said. “It’s so important to be speaking out about this.”
KEISHA’S ABORTION EXPERIENCE
Keisha went to the University of New Mexico (UNM) twice, on Jan. 23 and Jan. 30, 2017, seeking an abortion. She was given an ultrasound but was ultimately turned away from the hospital and referred to Southwestern Women’s Options, an Albuquerque business that performs third-trimester abortions on healthy babies growing in the wombs of healthy mothers. The UNM staff made the appointment at Southwestern for her. The two businesses often collaborate, both in the training of abortionists and, until last year, in the transfer of body parts harvested from aborted babies.
On Feb. 1, Keisha went to Southwestern, where her baby girl received a shot of digoxin to stop her heart and laminaria were inserted in Keisha’s cervix to begin the dilation process that would, if all went according to plan, result in Keisha delivering her stillborn daughter two or three days later.
Keisha signed consent forms and was instructed, in writing, that if she experienced any problems, she should not call 911 or go to an emergency room, but should just call Southwestern. She was sent home.
Feb. 2, she returned to Southwestern to have the laminaria replaced and was sent home again. Late that night, at about 11 p.m., she called Southwestern to say she was having trouble breathing and experiencing abdominal pain. Tina was with her when she made that call and remembers that Keisha was instructed not to call 911 but just to get to the clinic in the morning.
“I stayed with her all night,” Tina said. “She was in so much pain.”
On Feb. 3, Keisha arrived at Southwestern at 6:45 a.m. with a high fever and experiencing shortness of breath. Her physical symptoms did not improve through the course of that long day.
“That day was horrible,” Tina said. “I was in the waiting room and they finally let me see her for a minute at 2:30 p.m.” Keisha was on oxygen and had a high fever, her mother said.
At 4:08 p.m., almost nine and a half hours after Keisha had arrived at Southwestern, an ambulance finally was called. The abortion was not performed because she was too ill.
Keisha was admitted to the Emergency Room at UNM at 4:53 p.m. Tina remained with her until just before she was taken to the operating room at 10:29 p.m. for a “dilation and evacuation” abortion of her dead baby. That would entail repeatedly inserting forceps into Keisha’s uterus to remove her daughter piece by piece.
On the operating table, Keisha went into cardiac arrest and was declared dead at 12:10 a.m. Feb. 4.
Eventually the remains of Keisha’s baby, whom she had named Mavis, were reunited with Keisha’s body. They were cremated and their ashes, together in one urn, are with Tina.
“I miss my baby,” Tina said. “She should be here with me right now, and my grandbaby.” Mavis would be 2 years old.
Keisha’s sister, Nicole, also had an abortion at Southwestern and suffered complications so serious, she had to have a hysterectomy. She would advise any woman considering abortion to make another choice.
“This has impacted me and my family in ways you could not imagine,” Nicole said. “It has a tremendous amount of loss involved and I wish I had never done it.”
Tina and Nicole both wish Keisha had never set foot inside Southwestern.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
An autopsy performed by UNM’s Dr. Lauren Dvorscak concluded that Keisha died of a pregnancy-related pulmonary embolism - a blood clot in the lungs. The death was listed as “natural” and the autopsy report noted that “pulmonary embolism is the 6th leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States.”
But according to email transcripts obtained by Albuquerque attorney Michael Seibel, who last year filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Southwestern and UNM, some of the hospital’s medical staff were skeptical that it was really a pulmonary embolism that killed Keisha.
The autopsy report noted that Keisha “also had a high white blood cell count and other clinical features concerning for sepsis upon her hospital admission.” Keisha’s family believes that sepsis, a widespread infection, is what killed her.
Some hospital staffers seem to agree.
In an email dated July 20, 2017, Dr. Trenton Wray, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of New Mexico Hospital, who was one of the physicians who treated Keisha, said: “Everything about her course was consistent with septic abortion … I have to admit, I was floored by the cause of death being a massive PE.”
Wray was asking for an opinion from Dr. Gary Hatch, a diagnostic radiology specialist, who responded:
“The autopsy report doesn’t make sense to me. Who did the autopsy?” Hatch also insisted “there was no massive PE at the time of the CPTA. Period.”
CPTA stands for computed pulmonary arteriogram, a test that would have detected a pulmonary embolism.
In a subsequent email to Lisa Hofler, who was primarily in charge of Keisha’s treatment in the emergency room, Wray said: “My personal opinion on it is that she had septic cardiomyopathy.”
In an email exchange between Dvorscak, who performed the autopsy, and Hatch, Keisha’s infection was mentioned again.
“I agree that everything makes sense for sepsis, and I’m not denying that she was septic and going through a septic abortion,” Dvorscak wrote.
In his response, Hatch asked: “Could a potential sequence here be PE due to DIC due to sepsis due to endometrial infection?”
DIC stands for disseminated intravascular coagulation, a dangerous blood condition that can lead to hemorrhaging. Retention of a dead fetus is one potential cause of DIC.
“I think the scenario you outlined is entirely plausible,” Dvorscak replied, “that everything may have been sort of a sequence from her underlying infection.”
A month after these email exchanges, on Aug. 23, 2017, the Albuquerque Journal ran a story under the headline “Autopsy Rules Out Abortion as Cause of Death.”
In the story, New Mexico Chief Medical Investigator Dr. Kurt Nolte called Keisha’s death “a rare and tragic case for the family.” Southwestern, in a statement, said “All of us … are heartbroken by her death. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
The Southwestern statement went on to berate pro-lifers who were trying to learn the truth about the death of a healthy 23-year-old during the abortion of her healthy baby:
“For those who oppose women’s reproductive justice to exploit this sad event by putting forth lies about abortion and the patient’s care is sickening.”
Tina Atkins has a different take on what’s sickening about this situation.
“These late-term abortions are killing our children, our mothers, our daughters,” she said. “And they’re just getting away with it. I wanted to raise my grandbaby. I can’t even do that now because I don’t have either one of them here.”
Another set of emails sent two days after the Journal story was published brought up another discrepancy.
Remember that UNM turned Keisha away when she went there seeking an abortion, instead sending her to Southwestern for an elective abortion of her six-month fetus. That makes it curious for Eve Espey, chairwoman of UNM’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, to write: “… would you be willing to remove the word ‘elective’ – she qualifies under New Mexico’s definition of ‘medically indicated’ but I would suggest just saying ‘abortion.’ “
If her abortion was medically indicated, why was Keisha sent to an abortion business that, according to files collected by Seibel, had no emergency equipment on hand and whose doctors did not have hospital admitting privileges?
That’s just one of the many questions Keisha’s family want answered when the case is heard in December 2020.
They will also want to know why Southwestern waited more than nine hours before transferring her to the hospital, and why UNM waited more than five hours before sending her to an operating room to remove Keisha’s baby, who had been dead for about 60 hours at that point.
They would like the truth about the cause of death to come out – was it really a pulmonary embolism, or, as their lawsuit contends, did she die due to a septic infection that was overlooked until it was too late?
They want to know if, with better care, Keisha might have lived.
Keisha’s family, working with Elisa Martinez, executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Life and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, also want to ensure that no more women die from abortion.
Noting that even literature supplied to Keisha at Southwestern said the risks of later abortions were much greater than those performed early in pregnancy, Ms. Martinez said: “This is why we have to put an end to barbaric late-term abortion. There are too many women in who are being lied to. We need this story to get out.”
Why young women, particularly women of color, continue to die from legal abortion is beyond the scope of the lawsuit, but it’s a question that needs an answer, especially as late-term abortion spreads to states like New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Vermont.
“So many of the details sound so tragically similar,” Father Pavone told Tina and Nicole Atkins. “Not only are we praying for you, but we are going to work side by side with you to make sure this tragic loss will not be in vain. We’re going to save more lives as a result.”
By C.J. Williams, Director of Community Engagement, MCFL
I returned from the Let There Be Life Conference in California with more information than my heart or head could properly organize.
Much like the citizens of Massachusetts, Californians face an abortion-business extremism that is well beyond pro-choice. Laws proposed in the California legislature mirror the "ROE Act" (and newly introduced Bill H.3841, which would force our public universities to include abortion centers offering chemical terminations on their campuses). These bills abandon even the appearance of seeking women’s safety, and push abortion for any reason, at any stage, in any circumstance. These proposals brazenly remove medical standards of care for the abortion-minded mother, putting abortion promotion before her safety.*
California’s pro-abortion university bill inspired the introduction of HB 3841 here. Even my Planned Parenthood-supporting friends have wondered aloud to me why chemical abortions should be forced onto university health centers, when abortion access is so open in both Massachusetts and California--and the proposed laws make abortion more available but less safe.
Just in summary, these pieces of legislation:
--prioritize access over safety*;
--expand and promote abortion businesses but disempower doctors*;
--target viable preborn children; and
--target underage girls and young adults on college campuses*.
If the governor signs the legislation, California will force its public universities to provide chemical abortions on-site to their students. We in Massachusetts don’t yet have these laws on our books. The Committee on the Judiciary has recently informed me they are still taking testimony on the ROE Act (as is the Committee on Public Health for HB 3841, the chemical-abortion bill). The ROE Act, if passed, would remove all adult supervision and protection for a 12- or 13-year old girl seeking an abortion, as well as removing any requirement that grisly, multi-day late-term abortion procedures be performed in a qualified hospital. HB 3841 would require our publicly funded universities to institutionalize abortion centers on their campuses.
Court cases and emergency records in states with laws that remove these basic medical standards and abortion regulations show that countless women per year are maimed or killed by abortionists.*
During the conference, attendees also held a protest at the University of San Francisco. Well-known for its cutting-edge technology programs and medical track, UCSF is less well-known as the premiere late-term abortion training school in the nation. Doctors training there learn to perform abortions by aborting: they dismember human beings in-utero, and the organs of those individuals are then sold for a profit to medical researchers. Neither mother nor child gives consent in this scenario.
I joined other conference-goers outside the university chancellor’s window to expose the heinous human rights abuse.
“How can you have a medical school training late-term abortionists with the specific goal of harvesting human body parts? How many kinds of wrong can you go?” A girl named Ana asked me, as we held signs next to a young man in a mouse costume. (His sign: Don’t experiment on me and don’t experiment on BABIES.)
Loud and clear, even to passers-by, this event showed that we are no longer in a landscape divided at pro-life / pro-choice. Even the pro-choice students who wandered over to ask what we were protesting expressed horror at the flagrant disregard for human dignity.
What was the most valuable takeaway in all of this for Massachusetts?
It gave me a vivid view of what our state will look like for women if the “R.O.E.” Act is passed.
S.1209 (“R.O.E.”) will no not require basic medical standards of safety for the women having the 3 to 4 day late-term abortion procedure. These grisly labor-and-delivery-of-a-dead-child surgeries will be performed outside of hospitals under “R.O.E.”
I encountered a firsthand witness to the fallout of these policies in San Francisco. He is an attorney, whose client is the mother of Keisha, a woman who waited over 17 hours for proper medical care after her late-term abortion left baby parts in her womb. She ultimately died of sepsis -- and the incredible negligence of so-called women’s healthcare providers in outpatient abortion facilities.
This attorney is currently prosecuting the abortion doctors and outpatient abortion facilities in New Mexico for over 17 women’s deaths and countless injuries because of the gross negligence of their laws -- which right now do exactly what “R.O.E.” would do here -- has countless other incidents documented as well.
This event, and these facts are critical to your communication with your legislator, and the Joint Committee on the Judiciary (find their contact information here and submit your testimony to Chair Claire Cronin).
My pro-choice friends and I agree: The "ROE" Act is no ROE v. Wade. Where the Supreme Court decision recognizes a state interest in the life of a viable child, and (after the first trimester) recognizes a state interest in seeing that abortions are given the same attention as other surgeries (at least), the ROE Act would remove the current hedges separating “legal” abortion from an actual back-alley abortion.
So why are legislators and pro-abortion lobbies pushing this in Massachusetts?
An attorney in New Mexico dealing with the human fallout from late-term abortion cases there pulled these key points for us as we scrolled through page upon page of emergency assistance calls and death statements from non-hospital abortion facilities:
-- Outpatient clinics reduce overhead by reducing life-saving medical equipment.
-- Outpatient clinics do not need to have a doctor perform the procedure (or one with hospital privileges).
-- Outpatient clinics do not hold patients for monitoring as hospitals do.
-- Outpatient clinics send women home carrying a dead or dying full-term baby, effectively leaving her at risk for sepsis, hemorrhage, etc., with no medical attention near to hand.
No matter what end of the ideological spectrum we stand on, we can unite to oppose privileging ease of access over safety, risky abortion over healthcare, and profit over people’s lives, dignity, and well-being. Share these facts with the Joint Committees, and your family and friends -- pro-life or pro-choice.
San Francisco has a political climate similar to Massachusetts in some ways. New Mexico has an abortion extremism that could be Massachusetts in a few years.
They both have dead children being sold for their body parts, and women dying too often from reduction in the medical standards of care.
Let’s learn from both: Massachusetts citizens, get out there and lobby the Joint Committee on the Judiciary against the ROE Act. This isn’t about abortion access or removal of access, as ROE Act proponents have tried to say. It is about removal of care, safety, and a pushing for profit from organizations that make money on procedures that hurt women, and kill preborn people.
*SB 24 (CA) would require campus health services at all 34 public campuses throughout the state — 11 under the University of California system and 23 under the California State system -- to make available "abortion by medication techniques," which involves a regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol.
*The ROE Act would remove the requirement that a doctor have life-supporting medical equipment on-hand for both humans involved in an abortion. This bill even eliminates language recognizing that a woman and child are the relevant patients in an abortion.
*New Mexico is a case in point. You can read testimony from expert late-term abortionists from the ongoing court case in Albuquerque, wherein over 25 women are recorded dead from outpatient late-term abortions.
Abortion rates have declined in the state of Massachusetts by 24% (2011-2018).
While abortion proponents, including Planned Parenthood's research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, propose various reasons for the steep decline, one obvious foundation for a drop in abortion is left out.
Women are receiving the support they need, and thus don't feel coerced into terminating a child.
This record-breaking drop in abortion could also be related to the growth and expansion of pregnancy resource centers, as well as a wider spread cultural shift that has more and more access to positive media, visual aids to the what humans look like, developing in-utero, and a millennial ethos that shies away from violence.
Massachusetts has opened 3-6 new pregnancy resource centers since this study began, including ClearWay Clinics in Worcester and Springfield.Read more
According to their own estimates, Planned Parenthood performs over 330,000 abortion procedures per year. Apparently, that act of violence is their non-negotiable, because they've just voluntarily withdrawn from the program granting them funds through Title X. The organization receives approximately $60 million a year through Title X (which is less than 15% of the overall public funds given to the abortion giant); but in refusing Title X, Planned Parenthood is brazenly stating that abortion matters more than women's healthcare.
Most of other government funding comes through Medicaid, which does cover human abortions.
Despite what leadership in Planned Parenthood has stated, no part of the current federal administration is forcing PP to forgo Title X funds. The rule does not target any particular organization; the rule is a blanket policy that guarantees Title X monies (federal funds) follow rules instated already by the HHS which bar abortion funding. The recent decision follows the ruling that now separates abortion from actual healthcare, and prohibits any organization providing healthcare from receiving federal funding if they also provide abortion. As of the writing of this article, courts support the decision, despite lawsuits from PP.
Unbiased observers have made a good point quietly between the shouts on both sides of this news story: Does PP have a deeper commitment to making a profit off killing the preborn, or to women's health? Is it "Care. No Matter What." or "Abort. No Matter What."?