Death by Lethal Injection: Abortion Scheme Puts Women at Risk
By Mary Novick
Friday, February 4th, 2011

The abortion industry is certainly prolific in its ability to find new ways to destroy human life.  And each “innovation” puts more women at risk.

Notorious abortionist, James Pendergraft, now performs a new method of late-term abortion in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. The procedure is called a “fetal intra-cardiac injection.” Using a sonogram, the abortionist guides a spinal nettle through the woman’s abdomen into the unborn child’s heart and injects poison or air to stop the baby’s heart from beating. Once the abortionist kills the baby, he leaves the woman on her own to visit her personal doctor or a hospital emergency room to have the now-dead child delivered.

Although Pendergraft’s facility is located in a secret location in the D.C. area, Pendergraft does not hold an active medical license in Maryland, Virginia, or D.C. Furthermore, in August, the Florida Board of Medicine suspended Pendergraft’s medical license for the fourth time. In the past, the Board of Medicine suspended Pendergraft’s license for illegal late-term abortions, and botched legal abortions. In August,  the Board of Medicine suspended Pedergraft’s licence because he allowed an unlicensed employee–with a known drug problem–to dispense medications.

Fetal intra-cardiac injection constitutes a reckless and unnecessary practice. Pendergraft’s own website explains that when a child dies in utero and labor is not induced within a few days,

“The patient’s blood [can] become severely infected … this can lead to a clotting disorder where the patient’s blood does not clot, severe low blood pressure, bleeding constantly from needle sticks, internal bleeding, multiple organ failure which can lead to maternal death.”

When Pendergraft performs a fetal intra-cardiac injection, the woman leaves Pendergraft’s office in a potentially life-threatening state.  He will not be available when seemingly inevitable problems and complications arise. Instead, the woman is sent off to find someone else to complete the abortion procedure.  This procedure not only places the woman at risk, but the medical providers who might subsequently be called on to care for her.

First, there are significant medical risks to the mother’s health associated with these “technically challenging” extraction procedures during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. These risks include  uterine perforation, uterine scarring, cervical perforation or other injury, infection, bleeding, hemorrhage, blood clots, failure to actually terminate the pregnancy, incomplete abortion (retained tissue), pelvic inflammatory disease, endometritis, missed ectopic pregnancy, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, renal failure, metabolic disorder, shock, embolism, coma, placenta previa in subsequent pregnancies, preterm delivery in subsequent pregnancies, free fluid in the abdomen, organ damage,  adverse reactions to anesthesia and other drugs,  psychological or emotional complications such as depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders, and death.

In addition, there are important issues regarding the freedom of conscience of subsequent health care providers who are unwittingly forced to complete abortions and care for the women Pendergraft has callously put at risk. For example, a woman could walk into her pro-life physician’s office with an already-dead child in utero and oblige him or her to complete the procedure. The physician would be compelled to do so because the woman’s life is in danger if the child is not removed. Clearly, this practice puts many health care providers in very difficult situations.

Health care providers have a right to conscientiously object to participate  in abortion. Federal law–as well as the laws of 47 states–protects the right of health care providers to refuse to participate in or provide abortions. There is nothing more fundamental then a practitioner’s right to practice medicine ethically. There is nothing ethical about forcing a health care provider to participate in abortion, or about Pendergraft essentially tricking an unknowing health care provider into finishing his “dirty work.”

Additionally, Pendergraft is purposely targeting women from states that impose restrictions on late-term abortions. For example, on his website, Pendergraft specifically addresses questions as to the legality of his new procedure,

“Once the fetal heart beat has stopped, the process of removing the fetus from the mother’s womb is no longer defined as an abortion. This is the reason hospitals and other medical facilities cannot maintain the political, moral, ethical or religious controversy that comes with the abortion process;”

Pendergraft has it all worked out. He will end the life of the unborn child in the second and third trimester in a state where late-term abortion is legal, and then send the woman back to her home state or other facility to have the dead baby removed and the procedure completed.  Pendergraft’s plan may facilitate the circumvention of state laws where late-term abortion is prohibited.

Pendergraft’s scheme is astonishingly selfish, clearly dangerous for women, and potentially coercive to health care providers. It must be stopped.

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