A woman’s preborn baby died after a California doctor allegedly negligently prescribed the medication used in the abortion pill regimen to a patient seeking prenatal care, according to a California lawsuit filed Monday in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. According to her attorney, Lorena Anderson was between five and seven weeks pregnant when she sought prenatal care at the Bishop’s Peak Women’s Health Center on March 20, 2018. “She was very excited to learn she was pregnant, and she was looking forward to being a mother,” said Garett May, Anderson’s lawyer, to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
After confirming her pregnancy via a pregnancy test and ultrasound, Dr. Maria Rasul “carelessly and negligently” prescribed 200 mcg of Misoprostol, known by the brand name Cytotec and commonly called “the abortion pill,” without informing Anderson what it was and that she had done so.
A medication abortion is usually done by taking two drugs. The first one, Mifepristone, is typically taken orally in a doctor’s office or clinic, and works by softening the cervix, blocking progesterone and thinning the lining of the uterus, depriving the baby of nutrients and making it more difficult for the baby to stay attached to the uterine wall, while increasing sensitivity to the second drug. The second medication administered, Misoprostol, begins the contractions that expel the baby from the uterus. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the two pills together are 92% effective at causing an abortion, whereas three doses of 800 mcg Misoprostol alone is 84-85% effective. A 200 mcg dose of Misoprostol can also be used to treat stomach ulcers.
According to the lawsuit, Rasul “was made aware” of her error and attempted to cancel the prescription at the Rite Aid pharmacy where the prescription had been ordered. However, Rasul failed to inform the patient not to take the prescription, should it be filled. The suit also alleges the Rite Aid carelessly and negligently filled the prescription, and further that the pharmacy staff failed to inform Anderson what the pill was and what it would do, or even ask whether she was pregnant. After Anderson took the misoprostol, her baby died.
Anderson is suing Dignity Health (which operates the Women’s Health Center), Dr. Rasul, and Rite Aid, for an unspecified amount of damages caused by “fright, horror, anger, disappointment, emotional distress, mental suffering” and “physical suffering.” The case is scheduled for its first hearing on May 13th.