February 1, 2001
volume 12, no. 32

Woman Begged For Help Before Her Abortion Killed Her

    PHOENIX, AZ (Arizona Republic from - A frantic patient begged to know what was wrong with her as she lay bleeding to death in a Phoenix abortion facility after a botched abortion, a medical assistant testified Monday.

    "Is everything OK? What's wrong with me?" LouAnne Herron reportedly asked as blood collected under her body at the A-Z Women's Center abortion facility.

    The chilling testimony by medical assistant Teresa Jensen came during the trial of abortion practitioner John Biskind, 75, and Carol Stuart-Schadoff, his administrator, who are charged with manslaughter in the April 17, 1998, death of Herron, 33, after an abortion.

    The case raised questions about the adequacy of safeguards for women who undergo abortions in Arizona - some of which have yet to be resolved.

    Maricopa County prosecutors on Monday opened the second week of the estimated monthlong trial.

    Jensen said Herron was frightened and begging for information about her medical condition around 2 p.m., as she lay in the recovery room after her 1:30 p.m. abortion. Her blood loss was "above anything I could deal with," and her blood pressure was too low, Jensen testified.

    "She was scared about her condition," Jensen said.

    Michele Price, another medical assistant, also testified that when she lifted the sheet covering Herron "it looked like she was bleeding a lot." Price said that the blood was fresh and covered an area "all underneath her, down to her knees," adding, "It was more than I had ever seen before."

    An autopsy revealed that Herron's uterus had a tear 2 inches by three-fourths of an inch.

    Jensen testified that when Biskind was called to check on Herron in the hectic recovery room, he restarted her stalled intravenous tube that held blood-clotting medicine and tried to soothe her, telling her to "just lay down," and that "everything would be fine."

    Stuart-Schadoff, alerted about Herron's worsening condition, also came into the recovery room. While she was there, Biskind complained that if he had a nurse and qualified staff, they would have known what to look for, Jensen said. In that case, she suggested, he wouldn't have had to restart the IV.

    The comment has brought up the charge that abortion facilities do not have qualified staff trained to competently handle abortions and medical care after an abortion.

    That was vital testimony for prosecutors, who say Biskind left the abortion facility while Herron was still in serious medical trouble even though he knew there was no registered nurse on duty. Stuart-Schadoff has been charged in the case in part because she failed to schedule a registered recovery room nurse.

    Prosecutor Paul Ahler has hammered at the lack of experience of the $7-per-hour medical assistants who were caring for Herron that day.

    Under cross-examination, Jensen acknowledged her original impression of Herron's blood loss and low blood pressure could have been wrong because of her inexperience as a postoperative medical assistant. She also conceded that she couldn't remember if she planned to notify Biskind of her concerns about Herron's condition.

February 1, 2001
volume 12, no. 32
Pro Life News
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