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Unwanted Abortion of a Wanted Child

Shari Russell* had an ultrasound by Dr. Gary DeBakey on June 16, 1992. DeBakey informed Mr. and Mrs. Russell "that their child was a little girl," and that she had anencephaly. The Russells wanted the infant delivered by C-section "to give the child a chance to live if she could," but reported that DeBakey pressured them to choose abortion. DeBakey told them that Shari's medical condition necessitated immediate abortion and "that any delay in the abortion could cost [Shari] her life and that would leave her 7-year-old daughter, [Meghan], without a mother." Under this pressure, the Russells relented, and DeBakey referred them to Robert P. Kaminsky for an abortion.

Kaminsky failed to verify that Shari had any life-threatening condition. Only after the abortion of the baby, whom the family had named Rebecca, did the family learn that Shari had no medical indications for abortion, "that anencephalic children are not necessarily stillborn, and that the abortion was not necessary for the safety of [Shari.]" Mr. and Mrs. Russell sued Kaminski for fraudulent concealment, failure "to disclose the emotional and psychological risks and hazards to the family members," "mental anguish, emotional distress and torment, emotional trauma, loss of affection, loss of solace, loss of comfort, loss of assistance, loss of love, loss of companionship and society, and harm to their family relationships." Suit was also filed on behalf of Meghan for the loss of her baby sister.

*Names changed to protect confidentiality of the family. Doctors' names have not been changed.

Source: Harris County District Court No. 94-027947

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