Rosa Rodriguez (identified as "Patient A" in medical board documents) was 20 years old, and believed herself to be less than 17 weeks pregnant when she went to National Abortion Federation member Abu Hayat's Avenue A abortion practice on New York's lower East Side on October 25, 1991. A single mother with a 2-year-old daughter, Rosa had found Hayat's practice, Women's Medical Clinic, by reading his ad in a Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario. She later said she'd chosen abortion because she was unemployed and strugging financially to provide for her daughter.
Rosa said she chose the facility because it was near her home, but when she arrived at the address given in the ad, there was no clinic. Instead, she was taken to his facility from that location by taxi. Hayat charged $1,500 for the procedure, for which Rosa produced $1,000 cash and her passport, green card, and her watch as collateral for the remaining $500.
Rosa said that when she heard screaming at the clinic, she asked Hayat "why was someone screaming if there is supposed to be no pain. The doctor said that not everyone wanted anesthesia and not everyone could pay for anesthesia." She also later testified that he used dirty instuments.
Though he reportedly told Rosa that she was between 12 and 16 weeks pregnant, Hayat used a two-day procedure described in National Abortion Federation papers as appropriate for pregnancies over 20 weeks, which indicates that he knew that Rosa was past the 17th week of pregnancy. On the first visit, he sedated her, inserted laminaria to dilate her cervix, and gave her some sort of abdominal injection. When she awoke he sent her home, instructing her to return the following day.
Rosa returned as instructed at about 9 a.m., but she expressed misgivings about proceeding with the abortion, since she had felt fetal movement. She said that she had changed her mind. Hayat told her that it was too late to stop the abortion. Rosa said that two assistants held her down and clamped her feet into the stirrups while Hayat again sedated her. When she awoke, he told her that he had changed the laminaria, and again instructed her to return the folowing day. Hayat gave Rosa specific instructions that if she had any problems, she was to call his facility and noone else.
That night, Rosa was in pain, so she called as instructed. Hayat's assistant, who took the call, paged Hayat and then told Rosa that this was normal, that Hayat had said she "wasn't ready" for "further treatment".
Rosa called again when the pain would not abate. The aide, Maggie, told Rosa to meet her at her home, an instruction that this time Rosa did not follow. She remained at home, with her pain becoming worse and worse, and was accompanied by fever and bleeding. After several hours, she finally told her mother about the abortion. A family friend called an ambulance to take Rosa to Jamaica Hospital in Queens.
There, Rosa gave birth to a 3 lb. 1 oz. baby girl of approximately 32 weeks of gesation. The baby, born at about 8 a.m. on October 27, was healthy except for a traumatically amputated right arm. Doctors at the hospital performed a D&C, an abdominal X-ray, and an ultrasound on the young mother, trying to find the baby's arm. Evidently Hayat had removed it in the abortion attempt and disposed of it.
Rosa named the baby Ana Rosa, and went public with her story. All hell broke loose.
The medical board took action, faulting Hayat with lack of informed consent, since he had never gotten a written consent form from Rosa and had failed to discuss that she was past 24 weeks pregnant, and never discussed any alternatives to aborting her very advanced pregnancy. They also faulted Hayat with failure to perform a complete examination, noting that he had not even done so much as weigh or measure Rosa or take his patient's temperature. They faulted him with having inadequate facility and staff, having medical records athat were "not credible and are incomplete", for his illregular financial arrangements, and for performing an illegal third-trimester abortion. They revoked his license.
Hayat's receptionist, Marjorie Andrade, testified before the medical board that Hayat did any number of dubious things, including keeping a 6-month fetus in his freezer for two weeks in spite of the law requiring that fetuses be sent to a pathology lab. She testified that she never saw him sterilize any instrument, that he re-used them when they had dried blood on them. She also was interviewd on WNBC-TV, saying, "I've never seen any instruments sterilized. He used to rinse them out with water and soap."
But Hayat's problems were only beginning. Criminal charges were filed against him for his treatment of Rosa and Ana Rosa. More than thirty additional women stepped forward to complain that he had botched their abortions. Though he had been sued numerous times, none of the women had been able to collect because he did not have malpractice insurance and had declared bankruptcy.
While the circus was at its peak, National Right to Life siezed onto the story in its attack on the newly-reborn late term abortion method they dubbed "Partial-Birth Abortion", even though Hayat had evidently been using an established variation of the more common Dilation and Evacuation procedure. This method involved injecting the fetus with a deadly chemical the day before the actual extraction so that it will begin to decompose overnight, making the tissues softer and easier to pull apart for removal.
Newspapers investigating "The Butcher of Avenue A" also learned from the medical board that the previous year Hayat had botched an abortion resulting in the death of 17-year-old Sophie McCoy.
Hayat was prosecuted for assault against both Rosa and her unborn daughter, as well as for other cases, and sentenced to a total of 29 years in prison, which his attorney called "a death sentence" on the then 63-year-old Hayat. He planned to appeal the conviction for assaulting Ana Rosa, on the grounds that under Roe vs. Wade, she was not a person at the time and therefore could not have been assaulted.
Hayat remained unrepentant, and told the judge who sentenced him, "I am in a very difficult situation. I know I am not guilty. I know I am not one of the world's best abortionists in the world. I compare myself the best of any of the witnesses. I could teach them."
Rosa Rodriguez, noting the lack of success other patients had in seeking redress, didn't sue. "There really very little point," her attorney said.
After a burst of early publicity, including an appearance on Phil Donahue's show, Rosa Rodriguez and her daughter vanished from the public eye.
Sources: Milwaukee Journal 6-13-93; New York Times 11-20-91, "7 More Patients Accuse Doctor of Botching Their Abortions", 11-21-91; "New Inquiry For Physician On Abortion", 11-22-91; "State Chose Not to Punish Physician Tied to a Death", 11-23-91; "Abortion Mills Thriving Behind Secrecy and Fear", 11-24-91; "State Suspends Manhattan Doctor Accused of Botching Abortions", 11-26-91; "Doctor in Abortion Case Is Absent From a Hearing", 12-4-91; "Abortion Doctor Is Accused of Using Dirty Tools", 12-18-91; "Doctor Is Indicted For Abortion", 4-17-92; "Jury Panelists Asked Views on Abortion", 1-23-93; "East Village Doctor Convicted Of Performing Illegal Abortion", 2-23-93; "Doctor in Abortion Case To Appeal Assault Count", 3-7-93; "Prison Term for Doctor Convicted in Abortions", June 15, 1993; July 1993; New York Post 11-20-91, 11-21-91, 11-22-91, 11-26-91; New York Daily News 11-21-91, 11-24-91, 11-26-91; New York Newsday 11-22-91, 11-26-91; USA Today 11-22-91; Washington Times 11-12-91; Washington Post 3-27-93 Medical Board Determination and Order
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