Media turning a blind eye to alleged misdeed

In a story you would be hard-pressed to find in the mainstream media, abortionist Henry Morgentaler is being sued for at least $185,000 for an alleged botched abortion last year on an Ottawa woman, which she claims caused damage to her reproductive organs and harm to her marriage.

A Canadian Press wire story reported that an Ottawa couple filed documents with the Ontario Superior Court alleging that an August 8, 2003 abortion she had at Morgentaler’s abortuary was committed without anesthetic due to an inability to insert an IV. They also claimed that she experienced cramping and bleeding, but when she contacted the abortuary the following week, she was told such symptoms are normal after such an operation.

On August 23, 2003, the woman was hospitalized, when after two weeks, the symptoms did not let up. Emergency medical staff removed a placenta and the unexcavated remains of the aborted baby.

The documents state that the woman’s periods remain irregular and that she still experiences bleeding. The couple, who say that the ordeal has strained their marriage and threatens the woman’s ability to have children in the future, are suing for negligent medical care. They are also suing for expenses, loss of income and legal costs.

The appellant, the Canadian Press story reported, has yet to file a defence.

A Campaign Life Coalition spokesperson did not seem surprised at the news and said her organization hopes the case goes to trial. “I hope this actually goes to trial. It would shed some light on how dangerous abortions are for women,” said Gillian Long. “Unfortunately, Morgentaler has a history of ensuring that legal and financial settlements include clauses preventing victims from discussing their ordeals in public.”

Over the past two decades, there is a partial paper trail of alleged abuse and malfeasance on the part of Morgentaler and his staff. In 1985, the Toronto Star reported that a woman named “Sylvia” was mistreated by staff at Morgentaler’s Harbord Street facility after changing her mind about the procedure. The story began, “A woman who says she was mistreated at Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s Harbord Street abortion clinic has told a Toronto reporter a sanitary napkin was forced into her mouth to stop her screaming in pain.” After feeling some pain, “Sylvia” said she told Morgentaler, “Stop it, stop it. I don’t want you to do this (abortion) any more. Please don’t do it.” After the abortion, she said, “They were trying to hurry me out of the waiting room. They didn’t even ask me, ‘Do you feel like lying down?'” The Star also reported: “Sylvia’s advice to other women was: ‘No, not to go there at all, believe me.'” At the time, then-police chief Jack Marks said he thought Morgentaler was good at manipulating the media, but that Sylvia’s story was one example of the truth being told.

In 1991, Alberta Report noted a 1973 case in which Morgentaler was brought before the Professional Corporation of Physicians in Quebec. A foreign student who had had an abortion at Morgentaler’s Montreal facility required six days in Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital to recuperate four days after her suction abortion. Celeste McGovern wrote that doctors at Royal Victoria had to remove the fetal remains of “Morgentaler’s unfinished handiwork.” As a result of the case, Morgentaler’s medical licence was suspended for one year. The PCPQ disciplinary committee stressed that the suspension was for not only committing an illegal abortion, but for doing it improperly – “failing almost completely to gather a case history of his client, for failing to perform the necessary pregnancy test or blood test, for not obtaining pathological examination of the ’tissues’ removed and for failing to follow up the state of the health of his patients.”

In 1993, the Edmonton Sun reported that “Pam,” a 28-year-old woman, nearly died. It reported that 15 minutes after the 10-minute abortion procedure, Pam experienced stomach pains and began vomiting and shaking. The Morgentaler abortuary called an ambulance, which took her to University Hospital. Two hours later, the Sun reported, “her uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries had to be removed because of bleeding.” A doctor informed the woman she nearly died and that she was “lucky to be alive.” Although the paper said Pam’s family were considering a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and perhaps a lawsuit, there were no follow-up stories.

In 1998, the Halifax Daily News reported that a doctor and nurse at Morgentaler’s Halifax abortuary were found liable for a 1993 head-on collision, after a distraught patient was allowed to leave their facility and drive home. She fainted and crossed the median, running into a Ford Bronco. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal awarded Wanda MacPhail more than $600,000 in damages. In his decision, Justice Doane Hallett found “the appellants were negligent and that their negligence was the sole cause of the collision … I found that the appellants ought to have reasonably foreseen that the respondent, who they knew intended to drive home, would be at risk if the abortion was performed and she was allowed to drive home.” As a result of her injuries, MacPhail required a cane to walk, suffered from short-term memory loss and missed two years of work.

But coverage of such negligence is seldom made public. Morgentaler’s abortuaries are responsible for at least 100,000 abortions (according to the abortionist himself), so it is doubtful that there have been only a handful of problems. Indeed, this case is being largely ignored by the mainstream media also. The August 12 Canadian Press story had not been picked up by either an Ottawa paper, the Toronto dailies or any other major newspaper. Indeed, The Interim is aware of only two newspapers that carried the wire story, one being the Windsor Star.

John-Henry Westen, editor of LifeSite Daily News and a close observer of the Canadian press, told The Interim that “If I wasn’t so used to the double standard in the general media, I’d be shocked that this major story put out by CP was ignored by all of Canada’smajor media outlets. Imagine the sweeping coverage that would ensue if a pro-life crisis pregnancy centre was being sued by a woman. The all-too-biased press have reported coast-to-coast on mundane positive stories regarding Henry Morgentaler and his infamous ‘clinics’.”