In 2014, abortionist Katharine Morrison came up with the bizarre idea to open a new business that would commit abortions and deliver babies. This birth center/abortion facility hybrid was born out of Morrison’s desire to make abortion more commonplace in Buffalo and participate in the natural birth movement — something that understandably raised eyebrows. She told Cosmopolitan magazine at the time that “doctors… in Buffalo… think their patients don’t get abortions,” and they’re wrong. They were coming to her for both babies and abortions, she said.
Now, four years later, Morrison and a midwife have been accused of fatal negligence by a mother whose baby died in labor. In 2016, Morgan Dunbar was expecting her first baby, a boy she had named Kali. But after 34 hours, doctors finally performed an emergency c-section on her, but Kali was gone. He was blue, limp, and lifeless, with no heartbeat. After Dunbar began digging, she discovered that the care team she had relied on had failed her and her son on multiple levels. In an emotional blog post, she outlined how her medical team’s negligence led to her son’s death.
Dunbar had wanted an out-of-hospital birth because her mother had a difficult delivery experience, so Dunbar viewed hospital births as dangerous. When she became pregnant in 2015, she began researching and found Eileen Stewart, owner of Buffalo Midwifery Services. And she thought she had hit the birthing jackpot. “My birth team included not one, but three certified nurse midwives, a doula/energy worker, and an on call obstetrician in the case of emergency,” she wrote. The obstetrician was Morrison.
Dunbar labored at home for over 30 hours, with increasing complications. She was suffering from excruciating pain, and, as Patheos blogger Katie Joy noted, records show that she had an inflamed cervix from her son’s tilted head, which is a complication known to make a vaginal delivery difficult. Dunbar began to show signs of infection, but her midwives never checked her vital signs.
When Dunbar’s water broke, it had a horrible odor, and she asked to be transferred to the hospital. Her medical team hesitated. “One midwife responded by suggesting I just ‘relax’ and to allow her to ‘ice my cervix’ to try and bring the swelling down,” Dunbar wrote in her blog post. “Realizing with certainty that my son and I were in grave danger, I refused this procedure and fought through surge after surge of the most intense active labor contractions to verbalize my rationale for transfer. I recall having to spend far too much time convincing the midwife…. The midwives consulted… and eventually agreed to the transfer, instructing my partner to drive me to hospital, unaccompanied by any medical personnel.”
The midwives did not call 911 to report Dunbar’s condition, and they instructed her not to go to the emergency room. She was admitted to labor and delivery, and tests confirmed that she had an infection, with elevated white blood cell counts, in addition to her feverish condition and “foul-smelling discharge.” Care had been transferred from her midwives to Morrison, her obstetrician. Despite confirmation of infection, antibiotics were not ordered for nine hours. In the meantime, Dunbar continued to labor. Yet her care continued to be subpar. As Patheos explained, meconium was present, as well as “fetal tachycardia.” She had “full body tremors” from fever, yet “the natural birth OB refused to call for a c-section,” insisting, “There is only one way to birth a baby and that is to push.”
Those words, said Dunbar, will be “forever etched into my psyche.” Morrison knew that Dunbar’s son’s life was at risk from the meconium, but she “allow[ed] him to marinate in a poisonous concoction of bacteria and feces laden amniotic fluid,” Dunbar wrote. After a nurse repeatedly insisted on an internal fetal heart rate monitor, Morrison finally consented, and little Kali was found to have no heartbeat twice. Only then did Morrison finally sent Dunbar for a c-section, which was performed without anesthesia. “Only after his heart no longer beat was I finally granted the surgery I had begun begging for twelve hours prior,” she said. “I experienced every bit of sensation during the procedure.”
Kali remained on life support for four days. Meanwhile, Dunbar was told that “he had suffered severe Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopahy as a result of chorioamnionitis and… wait for it… meconium aspirate.” After four days, Dunbar and her partner removed life support, and Kali passed away.
After Kali’s death, Dunbar wanted answers, and according to Patheos, asked her care team to discuss everything, but they never showed. Dunbar requested her medical records, and only then did she understand just how negligent her care truly was. Morrison had “prepared inaccurate records that contradicted the documented nurse notes [and] the critically important APGAR record, used to assess the condition of an infant upon delivery, had been altered to indicate the birth of a live-born infant.” Patheos says Dunbar learned that if she “had received antibiotics along with a c-section when she became symptomatic, Kali likely would have survived.”
Dunbar wanted to get justice for her son, but could find no lawyer willing to help, so she is representing herself. She created an online community, Birthed In Betrayal, to give a voice to other women with similar experiences. In a Facebook post, she named the people responsible for her son’s demise: Eileen Stewart and Dr. Katharine Morrison.
While Dunbar worked with Buffalo Midwifery Services, a separate entity from Morrison’s Birthing Center of Buffalo, the two are still connected, as outlined in this article. Stewart helped Morrison found the Birthing Center of Buffalo, and is still listed as staff there; meanwhile, the article notes that they routinely work together, despite their separate practices.
“Buffalo Midwifery Services (Eileen Stewart) and the Birthing Center of Buffalo (Dr. Morrison) now exist as separate but collaborative practices offering exceptional and highly popular services to the Buffalo community. Eileen and Dr. Morrison work as backup for each other’s practices, and have privileges in each other’s spaces. Dr. Morrison offers physician consultation to all of Eileen’s clients.”
Dunbar’s views on abortion are not known, but it’s chilling to see the utter disregard Morrison — an abortionist — had for the life of Dunbar’s preborn child. Knowing that Kali was dying, Morrison refused to take any action until he was gone, and then seemingly tortured Dunbar by forcing her to endure a major abdominal surgery without any pain relief. It’s disturbing, to say the least, and makes one wonder how many other women have suffered at Morrison’s hands.