Kansans For Life
September 10, 2007
Day 3 of Hearings Offers Crowning Blow
On Friday, September 7, the third of three days of Kansas special legislative hearings on non-enforcement of Kansas late-term abortion laws, a 22 year old dimunitive young Topeka woman’s testimony delivered a big staggering blow to the Kansas abortion industry as she recounted her Kansas late-term abortion experience.
Michelle Armesto told the special committee on Federal and State Affairs how she was the victim of a coerced, and apparently illegal, abortion at George Tiller’s clinic four years ago (2003)– the same year as the abortion records subpoenaed by former AG Phill Kline.
Michelle’s records were not subpoenaed because Tiller had recorded her unborn child as being non-viable –and Kline was investigating criminal abortions of viable babies. Michelle believes her baby was healthy and viable, and was shocked to learn that Tiller had entered otherwise into her medical records.
After media reports this spring spotlighted the Kansas pro-life campaign to “Charge Tiller” for breaking the law, Michelle began to reflect upon her experience. (e.g. Our “Charge Tiller” rally at the capitol last spring was the front page story in the Topeka Capitol Journal the next day.) She found an attorney, became more thoroughly aware of the the illegal aspects of her forced abortion, and her attorney contacted the Alliance Defense Fund which contacted Kansans for Life.
Michelle is married now with two small children. At the the time of her abortion, she was an 18 year old high school senior, pregnant by the man who is now her husband. He proposed and he and his family were willing to support her and the baby. He had a job which paid $30,000 a year. Her father was starting to accept the pregnancy, until her mother discovered Tiller’s website offering very late abortions.
DETAILS OF TILLER ABORTION
In her 24th week of gestation, after relentless pressure by her parents, Michelle wound up at Tiller’s abortion facility. After viewing a video “on Tiller’s legacy” she was on the abortion table with one of Tiller’s out-of-state associate practitioners. Michelle asked –and was denied– permission to view the ultrasound being performed on her, and then her baby was killed with injections of poison.
Only AFTER the child was killed did she sign any papers and talk to a receptionist-“counselor” with whom she had spoken only briefly with on the phone prior to arriving. Only AFTER the baby was killed did she receive any physical exam, including blood testing.
She spent the night at the Wichita motel where Tiller’s patients stay. The following day she visited the clinic to get laminaria inserted to soften her cervix and returned to her motel where her boyfriend found her in a too-late attempt to intervene.
The third, final, day Michelle went to the clinic to be given drugs to initiate delivery of her dead baby. She was forced to be seated on a toilet during labor. Her haunting memory is of seeing her dead child on the floor to the left of the toilet.
IMPACT OF PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Michelle obtained her medical records this summer, including sonograms, and will forward them to the committee. They show the time the baby was destroyed precedes signing any forms by nearly an hour. Her testimony was important for revealing appalling medical treatment, and violations of the intended legal protection for an informed procedure.
In addition, Michelle’s experience indicates the likelihood that Tiller regularly omits, or falsifies, viability assessments. Kansas law does allow a late-term NON-viable baby to be aborted without any reason–but the law states that an objective assessment of viability is to be made and validated to the state health department. Therefore, besides criminal violations of protocol for viable baby abortions, authorities need to investigate Tiller’s entire late-term abortion records. You can see Michelle’s testimony here , and at http://www.kfl.org, and in our upcoming newsletter, and as soon as video of it is ready, we will post it on the website as well.
Following Michelle was Rep. Lance Kinzer ‘s testimony reviewing his significant provisos that the Kansas House passed last year to get state agencies and law enforcement to stop shirking their statutory obligation regarding abortions. Unfortunately, the Senate would only accept one proviso, and then Gov. Sebelius vetoed it, thus more aggressive action needs to be taken this session.We will post Lance’s testimony to the website.
Friday’s late term abortion hearings had begun with a presentation from Operation Rescue, including an exchange of letters with Wichita DA Nola Foulston, the Wichita Police Department and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, etc., showing that no one would take responsibility for investigating possible lawbreaking by Tiller. A riveting powerpoint presentation showed various ambulance transports from Tiller’s clinic to the hospital and the entire 911 call from the clinic on the day that Christin Gilbert died.
Next was right-on-target testimony by Concerned Women of America. president Wendy Wright, decrying how Tiller was circumventing the laws set up in most other states on late-term abortions. I urge you to read Wendy’s testimony here or on our website http://www.kfl.org
After Wendy was Dr. Ted Williams a Family Practice physician from Olathe . He presented very succinct and pertinent testimony about physician standard of care, etc. and also brought an affidavit from another doctor who does much OB-GYN work.
After lunch a female, very feminist lawyer spoke about unfairness to women claiming no one took pregnant women’s mental health issues seriously. Pro-life Rep. Owen Donohoe asked for polling or statistics proving that. She said she didn’t bring any.
Following her was Tiller’s right hand (and highly paid) gal Julie Burkhart who attended and videotaped every second of the hearings. She spoke deliberately softly and much-too-slowly that legislators should abandon their biases and realize that too many ordinary people need Tiller. She showed a video of two sets of parents talking about aborting their babies that had something wrong with them. Both said the babies would die in utero or soon after birth, but Burkhart admitted upon questioning that both abortions were deemed “non-viable” –and thus (without evidence to the contrary) legal. (Former KFL /K.C. Regional Executive Director Pat Adair was sitting close by and related in private conversation how the death of her baby 12 hours after birth was very hard, but in no way would have been better had the baby been purposely killed earlier.) Burkhart didn’t rebut Michelle’s earlier testimony but she did try to nullify Operation Rescue’s ambulance recordings claiming Tiller was acting prudently, like other doctors, when he calls for ambulances. Wonder why then they left the 911 dispatcher on hold for 45 seconds after he asked them WHY they wanted an ambulance when they called one for Cristin Gilbert, the 19 year old girl with Down Syndrome who later that day was reported to have died?
KFL Legislative Director Kathy Ostrowski was the final conferee, who did a suburb job batting “clean up”, wrapping up all our pertinent points given at the hearings. Read her testimony here to understand what the hearings were about and what can be done about the lack of enforcement of Kansas abortion laws. Here are some key problems to be addressed:
>The KDHE, our state health statistics agency, should be forced to be accountable for abortion reporting form accuracy. When questioned in the hearings, KDHE staff stated their only job is to obtain abortion reports in which every blank is filled in–and denied their legal responsibility to analyze or reject responses. The resulting nine years of late-term abortion answers accepted by KDHE were dishonest reiterations of statutory language.instead of valid maternal diagnoses and the medical justifications upon which they were based. (The Kinzer proviso attempted to fix this, but it was vetoed by Gov. Sebelius, and insufficeint Senators were present on the last day of the 2007 session to override her veto.)
>The KSHBA, our state medical board, should investigate the many violations of unprofessional conduct by licensed abortionists as they admitted in committee had not been done. We contend the KSHBA could be forced to assist KDHE “weed out” manipulative and non-genuine medical responses on the reporting forms.
>Another remedy would be to give aborted women stronger standing to sue for civil damages for medical fraud by abortionists. It appears Michelle is a prime example–but her legal remedies are extremely limited now, as she may have passed all time limits for filing civil lawsuits. It remains to be seen whether , as reported Friday, Morrison and the KSBHA “might” investigate Michelle’s experience as a criminal abortion.
>We caution lawmakers from looking for a “quick fix” of passing a law that merely adds a requirement that a qualified psychiatrist referral must precede viable baby abortions in cases where the mother might suffer “substantial and irreversible” mental damage. We understand Tiller already has repeatedly used the same psychiatrist in 2001 to “rubber stamp” many abortions reportedly without perhaps actually meeting the young women in person. The lack of enforcement is a combination of collusion between abortionists and the second doctor required, illicit agency reporting and non-investigation by the Attorney General and state medical board.
In any event, these hearings were like turning on floodlights in a deep, dark, pest-infected cave, and for that we are very grateful and hope to see steps taken to protect women and their viable unborn children soon.Thank you to Rep. Arlen Siegfreid of Olathe , special committee chair for holding these extraordinary hearings! The committee wwill discuss everything they heard at an upcoming hearing that will be held on October 17. Plan now to attend. We will provide details as the time nears.
What can YOU do? YOU can click here and see a petition to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts (legal sized). Right click it and make copies and gather as many signatures as you can and mail to Kansans for Life, 2501 E. Central, Wichita , KS 67214 .
(Also, KC area folks only: Please go to http://www.kfl.org and see right hand side and look for “40 Days for Life”. Also there on the home page on the left side look under calendar and hit calendar again on the drop down menu. Pick a half day for you and your friends or those at your church to participate and then email us at email@example.com (KC KFL email address) . Also note KC folks: Life Chain Sept. 29 in KC at 1:30.)
Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director, KFL and Kathy Ostrowski , KFL Legislative Director