In October, New Jersey revoked the medical license of Dr. Steven Brigham after state officials found Brigham guilty on several counts of gross negligence, deception, and official misconduct. This could cause Brigham’s New Jersey abortion centers to close down.
This isn’t Brigham’s first run-in with public health officials or the law. He’s lost his medical license in several states, and has become infamous for operating abortion centers, although many states are working to drive him out of business. In 2004, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, home of the notorious abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, banned Brigham from operating abortion centers in that state. He’s even drawn the pseudo-ire of the “mainstream” abortion industry.
Not so in the Old Dominion. In fact, under the leadership of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring, Brigham is not only welcomed to the state with open arms, but McAuliffe and Herring are working overtime to ensure that Brigham and those like him are protected from any scrutiny at all. All the while, public health officials seem to be ignoring signs that Brigham’s two abortion centers here in the Commonwealth are no better—if not worse—than those places like New Jersey have sought to shut down, and instead have granted him lenience from health and safety standards that already exist.
We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Protections for Women
If McAuliffe gets his way, those basic standards will go away, too. In May of this year, McAuliffe announced plans to try to undo Virginia’s abortion center health and safety standards adopted less than a year prior. McAuliffe, to a throng of exuberant media and with representatives of NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood at his side, issued a “directive” requiring the Virginia Board of Health to begin an “immediate” review of standards. Calling standards such as regular inspections by public health officials, infection control policies, medical industry sterilization standards, and requirements that abortion center staffs be trained “extreme and punitive,” McAuliffe began paying back an abortion industry that spent nearly $2 million getting him elected.
In the months since McAuliffe’s directive, Virginia health Commissioner Marissa Levine has been reviewing the standards and is preparing to make recommendations for massive changes at the next Virginia Board of Health meeting on December 4. The board, members of which are gubernatorial appointees, will have to decide that day whether to pursue Levine’s recommendations or ignore the governor’s demand and keep the standards as they are.
Remarkably, states that are far bluer than even Virginia—like New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware—have sought to hold abortion doctors or centers accountable to basic health standards because of the likes of Brigham. But Virginians watch McAuliffe and his cohorts try to gut health standards.
Use Our Bloody, Unsterilized Medical Equipment
All this, while in the two years since initial standards were adopted, inspections by public health officials of Virginia’s 18 abortion centers have uncovered more than 400 health and safety violations, including bloody and unsterilized equipment, untrained staffs, violations of parental consent laws, and much more. While the abortion industry claims it now supports “reasonable regulations,” as late as 2011 when the Virginia legislature passed a requirement that abortion center standards be adopted, those same industry powerhouses like Planned Parenthood and NARAL argued against legislation that would have required only inspections, licensing, and emergency life-saving equipment.
Some of the findings by public health inspectors have been startling. The Federalist editor Mollie Hemingway wrote recently about the disgusting conditions at one facility, but there are others, as well.
At the Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic: “On 7/19/12 the following observations were made: the attending physician was sitting at a desk reading the newspaper. He put the paper away when the patient arrived. The physician interviewed the patient. The staff escorted the patient to the exam room. The physician went into the room … The physician put on gloves and preceded to perform a vaginal ultrasound of the patient. Once the procedure had been completed the physician told the patient to get dressed and he would see her outside the exam room … The physician picked up the patient’s medical record and began to make notations. He removed a prescription pad from a drawer. At no time was the physician observed washing his hands or performing hand hygiene. The observations were pointed out to the physician who stated, ‘I was not doing a procedure, only an ultrasound. If I had been doing a procedure I certainly would have washed my hands.’ The above information was discussed with the administrator who stated, ‘He never washes his hands, he always uses gloves.’ When it was pointed out that sometimes the gloves may have holes in them the administrator stated, ‘Oh! That is gross!’”
We’ll Just Stop Reporting Our Gross Violations of Women’s Rights
At Brigham’s Virginia Beach abortion center, during a March 2014 inspection Virginia public health officials discovered that for 36.6 percent of patients that had medical abortions (example, through RU-486) in January 2014, a second medication or surgical procedure was required to complete the abortion. That’s a remarkable failure rate. RU-486 is only to be used until 49 days gestation and, if used according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines, has an 8 percent failure rate. The farther along in gestation a woman is, the more likely it is that RU-486 will fail. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, statistics indicate there is a 17 percent failure rate at 50-55 days, and a 23 percent failure rate at 57-63 days. Virginia Women’s Wellness’ rate of 36.6 percent failure is over four times the average. Its plan to correct the problem: “These cases will no longer be documented in the complication log.”
According to a February 25, 2013 inspection report, the Roanoke Medical Center for Women performed abortions on three minors without evidence of parental consent. Two of these patients were 14 years of age when the abortion was performed and under Virginia law, having carnal knowledge of a 14-year-old is a crime. Licensed physicians including both the abortionist and the state health commissioner are mandatory reporters for suspected child abuse and neglect. Clearly, a 14-year-old who by statute is the victim of a crime falls within the category of an abused or neglected child. It is especially alarming because this occurred along the I-81 corridor, where sex trafficking is a concern. Yet no one ever reported any crime and, in the time since, Attorney General Herring has issued a legal opinion relieving abortion doctors and Department of Health inspectors of some of their reporting responsibility.
At the same abortion center, an earlier inspection found: “Staff used … a sponge to clean the procedure jars and failed to disinfect procedure jars and stoppers between patients … failure to disinfect three (3) of three recovery cots between patients and one (1) of one lab chair… observation revealed one of the vacutainer needle holders had visible dark red splatter within the hub, which attached to the needle to draw the patient’s blood.”
Most recently, an inspection report obtained by The Family Foundation of Virginia through the Freedom of Information Act uncovered violations of federal drug laws by the Charlottesville Medical Center for Women, one of four abortion centers in Virginia owned and operated by Dr. William Fitzhugh. This in addition to multiple violations of basic health and safety standards, including the use of Schedule II narcotics without any staff being trained in advance cardiac life support. Public health officials discovered that the doctor at the facility has been dispensing narcotics without a valid Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) license, which records indicated had expired two years ago (his attorney claims he has a license but didn’t present one at the September Board of Health meeting), and staff at the facility were improperly interacting with and keeping no records of Schedule II narcotics, and transporting drugs with no accountability or license.
Federal laws require very specific record-keeping and use of Schedule II narcotics (which include cocaine and methamphetamines), and any doctor who dispenses or handles these kinds of drugs improperly can have their medical license suspended or revoked.
Truth: Abortionists Care About Money, Not Women
Yet when a report about the violation of DEA regulations was submitted to the Virginia Board of Medicine, the body that has oversight of medical licenses, it refused to take action, stating that, because the inspection report didn’t name the doctor, its hands were tied. Records show, however, that there is only one doctor associated with that particular abortion center: William Fitzhugh. Regardless, how hard would it have been for someone at the Board of Medicine to call the Department of Health to find out which doctor was breaking federal and state drug laws? Or, because it’s abortion, do they simply not care?
Unfortunately, few Virginians are aware of what has been found in Virginia’s abortion centers because, not surprisingly, the media here has chosen to completely ignore the inspection reports that revealed these violations (you can read more about what inspections uncovered here, here, here, and here). Instead, the media works with the abortion industry to distract people with rhetorical concerns about required “construction standards” that abortion centers can avoid through variances granted by the Commissioner of Health. For years, the abortion industry in Virginia argued that its facilities are safe and not in need of inspections or regulations. But inspections that have taken place have proven that that industry is incapable of policing itself.
Simply put, the abortion industry cannot be trusted. It is corrupt, deceitful, and cares little about “women’s health.” It cares about its financial bottom line, and having to spend money to train staff and clean their instruments isn’t part of the business model, but paying to have politicians like Terry McAuliffe cover up their actions is. One wonders: if Kermit Gosnell had his facility in Virginia, would anyone here care?