League Files Complaint Demanding Investigation into Tonya Reaves’ Death at Chicago Planned Parenthood

Yesterday the Pro-Life Action League, acting through our legal counsel, the Thomas More Society, filed a formal administrative complaint with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, urging that the IDPR undertake an immediate investigation into the death of 24-year old Tonya Reaves following an abortion at a Planned Parenthood’s Loop Health Center in Chicago on July 20th, 2012.

In the complaint and its ten accompanying exhibits, the Pro-Life Action League and Thomas More Society have detailed a series of serious concerns about apparent inadequate and substandard care given to Reaves.

First, the website for Planned Parenthood’s Loop Health Center indicated [PDF] — in a passage that was later deleted — that only limited services (birth control, emergency contraception, and medication abortion; i.e., the abortion pill) were available at that facility.

Yet Reaves, then 16 weeks pregnant according to her autopsy report, underwent an invasive, surgical dilatation & evacuation (D&E) abortion at the hands of Dr. Mandy Gittler. Thus these facts suggest that Planned Parenthood’s Loop Health Center was inadequately equipped and inadequately staffed to handle either the D&E procedure or complications arising as a result — which, in Reaves’ case, led to her death.

Moreover, while Reaves’ abortion was performed at 11:00 a.m. on July 20th, her autopsy [PDF] shows that she was not transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which was fully equipped to handle post-surgical emergencies, until five and a half hour later.

Capable, experienced medical staff should have noted that Reaves was not recovering properly and needed emergency medical care. Yet even after her ultimately fatal complications must have been plainly apparent, staff failed to call 911.

The autopsy also indicates that Reaves received large quantities of saline solution, but no effective medical help.

No city ambulance was summoned, so Reaves may well have been taken to the hospital in a non-emergency vehicle, unequipped for transport of life-threatening cases. These facts alone cry out a chilling message that Reaves was victimized by woefully inadequate emergency care, far from what proper medical standards required in such a grave situation.

Finally, the autopsy shows that when Reaves finally arrived at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH), she was given an ultrasound and re-suctioned. But the autopsy does not indicate that NMH doctors considered whether she had suffered a uterine perforation — which Planned Parenthood’s abortionist must have suspected, given Reaves’ profuse bleeding and statistical likelihood of such an event occurring during a D&E abortion.

In fact, it was only after the hospital doctors conducted another abortion that staff noted the build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity. But by 10:15 p.m., it was already too late to save Reaves’ life. All these facts suggest a gross failure of the Planned Parenthood’s abortionist to communicate to hospital staff all of the relevant and urgent facts about this gravely endangered patient immediately upon her transfer to the hospital, amounting to a flagrant case of utterly unprofessional “patient abandonment.”

While normally, such violations of professional medical standards would be reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health, all Illinois Planned Parenthood facilities are unlicensed. As a result, any investigation relating to sub-standard medical care on their part is entrusted to IDPR.

“We request, respectfully but urgently, that the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation investigate and scrutinize all relevant facts surrounding the death of Tonya Reaves,” said Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Society. He added: “It is IDPR’s solemn duty to protect patients from dangerous medical treatments, and Illinois citizens sorely need dependable assurance that Tonya Reaves’ tragedy will never be allowed to recur.”

Read the entire complaint here [PDF].

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