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Ignorance and Mushrooms Grow Best In the Dark

CALLER: Since you said that you would not inform a consumer of anything specific unless there was a major problem, in which case the person would no longer be a [National Abortion Federation] member, what do you do in the case of something like Lichtenberg in Chicago, where he had that 13-year-old girl die? Would you tell a consumer about that if she asked if anyone had died at that clinic?

NAF SPOKESWOMAN: Well, I don't have that information, and our -- the people that work the hotline don't have that information readily available right now. Their basic goal is to refer them to a NAF member clinic, and that's what they do.

I taped that conversation with Susan Shapiro of NAF on October 19, 1995, while I was doing research for Lime 5. What Ms. Shapiro evidently didn't know is that I'd taped another very interesting conversation with one of their referral hotline counselors just the previous day. Posing as a woman scheduled for an abortion at Edward Allred's Albany clinic in Chicago, I expressed misgivings. I said that I'd heard of a patient death there. The counselor had assured me, "All of the complications are reported here, and if there was an excessive amount of complications, they would not be a member of the National Abortion Federation." She described Albany's abortionist, Steve Lichtenberg, as, "a very, very excellent doctor, very well respected." She dismissed the death as "just a rumor."

National Abortion Federation Promises
Screen capture of assurance of safe, quality care on National Abortion Federation web site. It reads: "What is a NAF Clinic? NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. .... In order to become a member, a clinic must complete a rigorous application process. Member clinics have agreed to comply with our standards for quality and care.... NAF periodically conducts site visits to confirm that our clinics are in compliance with our guidelines.

I called back later and told the counselor that someone had told me to ask about Deanna Bell. (Thirteen-year-old Deanna had died at Albany after an abortion by Lichtenberg.) The counsellor put me on hold, then came back and said that I was confused, that I was thinking of Becky Bell. Becky, the counselor told me, had died from "an illegal abortion. She hadn't called the National Abortion Federation. She obviously did not go to a NAF member." I insisted that I had the girl's name correct -- it was Deanna, not Becky -- and that the abortion had been at Albany. The counselor was adamant. Whoever had told me that someone named Deanna Bell had died after an abortion at Albany "might be an anti-choice person."

There is no doubt in my mind that the counsellor was shocked and confused when I could put a name to the rumored dead girl. As I sat on hold, I imagined the counselor seeking information, wanting to know if the story of Deanna's death was true. And I imagine that somebody said to her, "She must be thinking of Becky Bell." (Becky Bell had been the furthest thing from my mind; I'd chosen the Deanna Bell case because Albany was part of Family Planning Associates Medical Group, NAF's flagship chain of abortion clinics, and because Lichtenberg is a high-profile member who often trains his fellow abortionists at NAF Risk Management Seminars). I believe that Susan Shapiro was telling the truth when she said that NAF didn't give hotline counselors information on malpractice and death at NAF clinics. After all, it is easier to get people to sell a product they believe in.

It is also entirely possible that whoever the counselor consulted was equally in the dark about Deanna Bell's fatal encounter with Steve Lichtenberg. After Deanna's death, Albany sent a thank-you letter, signed by Lichtenberg, to the hospital that had referred Deanna to them, describing her abortion as "uneventful." Either abortion deaths are so common as to be unworthy of comment, or Lichtenberg and his staff were hoping that they could send a 13-year-old girl out under a sheet without anybody noticing.

CALLER: Okay, and if they asked if there was malpractice at that facility, or by that practitioner, would you inform them?

NAF SPOKESWOMAN: We don't have that -- No, we would not inform them of anything specific, unless there was a problem. Then they wouldn't be NAF members if there was something -- if there was a serious problem, and if the complications were -- were serious, you know.

Some more examples of problems that aren't "serious problems":
  • Abortion Deaths Courtesy of NAF Clinics
  • About Those NAF Clinics in Kentucky
  • Abu Hayat, Erstwhile NAF Member
  • Bruce Steir, Active With NAF
  • BUSTED! Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation Caught in Pedophile Protection Scandal
  • Christi's Choice
  • NAF Member Eastern Women's Center
  • NAF Member Midtown Hospital
  • Ronachai Banchongmanie, Erstwhile NAF Member
  • Steir and NAF in Perspective
  • Steve Lichtenberg and FPA

    Some more examples of complications that weren't "serious":

  • Diane Boyd: This mentally-disabled rape victim was given drugs that fatally interacted with her regular meds.
  • Chanelle Bryant: Chanelle was given RU-486 in an off-label manner at an FPA facility in southern California.
  • Patricia Chacon: Patty's parents claim that she bled to death while left unattended.
  • Barbaralee Davis: Eighteen-year-old Barbaralee was the first woman to die of abortion complications in member facility of the then newly-formed NAF.
  • Laniece Dorsey: Seventeen-year-old Laniece lapsed into a coma and died. She was one of a dozen patients I know of who have died from complications of abortions at Family Planning Associates Medical Group.
  • Tamika Dowdy: Twenty-two-year-old Tamika died of a botched abortion while her rapper boyfriend waited to tell her he'd just gotten a recording contract.
  • Josefina Garcia: FPA staff failed to diagnose Josefina's ectopic pregnancy.
  • Christin Gilbert: This developmentally-disabled teen was taken to George Tiller's infamous late-abortion facility in Wichita for a third-trimester abortion that he managed somehow to justify on "health" grounds.
  • Susan Levy: This homeless woman was found dead in her friend's car.
  • Dawn Mack: NAF member facility Eastern Women's Center is responsible for the death of 21-year-old Dawn, as well as Dawn Ravenelle and Venus Ortiz.
  • Sophie McCoy: Seventeen-year-old Sophie died after an abortion by NAF member Abu Hayat, who is best known for having ripped the arm off a 32-week-fetus, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, who was born maimed.
  • Yvonne Mesteth: Despite the fact that he was already responsible for the death of 28-year-old Linda Padfield, Benjamin Munson was welcomed into NAF.
  • Denise Montoya: Denise was fifteen years old when her parents brought her to Women's Pavilion in Houston for an abortion on May 13, 1988, performed by Douglas Karpen.
  • Christine Mora: Christine's abortion was rushed through in only three minutes.
  • Kimberly Neil: Kimberly's family alleged that she was not properly attended after she suffered anesthesia complications.
  • Sara Niebel: Fifteen-year-old Sara died after an abortion at NAF member Midtown Hospital.
  • Joyce Ortenzio: Joyce was sent home from her abortion with fetal parts still in her uterus.
  • Venus Ortiz: Venus was 23 years old when an abortion at Eastern Women's Center left her in a coma from which she never recovered.
  • Catherine Pierce: Inspectors cited Atlanta Surgi-Center for administering "the same anesthesia dosages" to patients whose weights ranges from 107 to 167 pounds, inadequate record keeping, and inadequate supervision of patients.
  • Mary Pena: Mary's abortion death was uncovered by a vital records clerk who noticed problems with her death certificate.
  • Dawn Ravenelle: This 13-year-old girl was left unattended to lapse into a fatal coma.
  • Tamiia Russell: Fifteen-year-old Tamiia's was brought for a secret, illegal abortion by her abuser's sister.
  • Angela Scott and Delores Smith: NAF member facility Atlanta Women's Pavilion managed to fatally injure these two teens in the same hour.
  • Oriane Shevin: Oriane was given her abortion drugs in an off-label manner at Eve Surgical Center.
  • Tami Suematsu: Tami suffered an asthma attack during her abortion.
  • Latachie Veal: After her abortion, Latachie was sent home to bleed to death.
  • Nichole Williams: In addition to Nichole's death, NAF member Robert Crist has two other deaths to his discredit: Latachie Veal and Diane Boyd.

    The converasations quoted here are cited in Lime 5 by Mark Crutcher, copyright 1996 Life Dynamics Inc.

    Related Links -- Becky Bell:

  • A Tale of Two Abortions
  • Becky Bell: A Mother's Story
  • Bill and Karen Bell
  • Public Law 106: The Becky Bell Story
  • NOW Mobilizes Opposition
  • Reflections on the Becky Bell Tragedy
  • The True Story of Becky Bell
  • The Truth Behind The Becky Bell Story

    Related Links -- Deanna Bell:

  • Deanna Bell, Abortion Death
  • Justice, Finally Possible For 1994 [sic] Abortion Death
  • Adams v. Family Planning Associates Medical Group, Inc.
  • Mother Can Sue Abortion Business Over Daughter's Abortion Death
  • 1992 Abortion Death Remembered
  • Court Rules Woman Can Sue
  • The wheels of justice grind slowly indeed

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    RealChoice Blog

    Not Just the Unborn

  •  More on NAF
    • A Few Bad Apples
    • About Those NAF Clinics in Kentucky
    • Abu Hayat, Erstwhile NAF Member
    • Bruce Steir, Active With NAF
    • BUSTED! Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation Caught in Pedophile Protection Scandal
    • Charity Navigator Report on NAF
    • Christi's Choice
    • Ignorance and Mushrooms Grow Best in the Dark
    • NAF and NRL Collide
    • NAF Directory
    • NAF Member Eastern Women's Center
    • NAF Member Midtown Hospital
    • NAF NewSpeak on Abortion Pill
    • National Abortion Federation
    • National Abortion Federation Deaths
    • On the Use of Human Shields
    • Ronachai Banchongmanie, Erstwhile NAF Member
    • Social Worker Takes Girl from Alaska to Seattle for Secret Abortion
    • Steir and NAF in Perspective
    • Steve Lichtenberg and FPA
    • Who Do You Believe?

     NAF Deaths
    • Gloria Aponte
    • Deanna Bell
    • Diane Boyd
    • Chanelle Bryant
    • Patricia Chacon
    • Barbaralee Davis
    • Laniece Dorsey
    • Tamika Dowdy
    • Josefina Garcia
    • Christin Gilbert
    • Susan Levy
    • Dawn Mack
    • Sophie McCoy
    • Yvonne Mesteth
    • Denise Montoya
    • Christine Mora
    • Kimberly Neil
    • Sara Niebel
    • Joyce Ortenzio
    • Venus Ortiz
    • Catherine Pierce
    • Mary Pena
    • Vanessa Preston
    • Dawn Ravenelle
    • Tamiia Russell
    • Angela Scott and Deloris Smith
    • Oriane Shevin
    • Tami Suematsu
    • Latachie Veal
    • Nichole Williams

     Food for Thought
    • Botched Abortion Leads to Amputation
    • LDI and the CDC
    • Misplaced Priorities Cost Women's Lives
    • Unequal Burden on the Poor?
    • The Bad Old Days of Abortion
    • Who's Putting the Unborn Ahead of the Born?
    • A Mother's Nightmare
    • Do Rape Victims Really Need Abortions?
    • What's the Need for Abortion?
    • Your Bedroom, the Government, and Abortion Laws
    • Is Childbirth Safety Relevant to Abortion?
    • When the POC Really is Just Tissue
    • Is 'Who Decides?' Really the Question?
    • Stress and the Abortion Decision
    • Coathanger Abortion: Powerful image, but how true to life?
    • Unplanned Pregnancies that Worked Out
    • Fetal Diagnoses Leading to Unnecessary Abortions
    • Who is the Enemy?
    • Did I Deserve the Death Penaltyh
    • Is This the Face of the Enemy?
    • Another Anti-Choice Fanatic
    • Question Abortion
    • Abortion, Law, and Real Choice
    • Women's Rights are Common Ground
    • The Abortion War and Communication
    • What Real Informed Consent Would Look Like
    • Diane Sawyer and the Non-Story of Lawson Akpulonu
    • Women Who Change Their Minds After the Abortion
    • Comparative Safety - Abortion & Stuff Folks Get Riled About
    • Where's the Pro Choice Movement on Elective Amputations?
    • Unintended Late Abortions
    • 19th Century Abortion Cases and Other Self-Injury
    • Are Abortions Used as Birth Control?
    • Pro Child/Pro Choice Rings Hollow
    • The "Koop Report" on Abortion
    • What's "Adequate Access" to Abortion?
    • Abortion, Suffering, and the Chinese Widow
    • Freaks Teaches Pro-Life Lesson