Was Lakisha Wilson’s abortion death preventable?

women clinic abortion

Photo via Operation Rescue

It’s been three years since 22-year-old Lakisha Wilson died following a botched abortion at Preterm, an abortion facility in Cleveland, Ohio, and today, Operation Rescue has released an article describing the extent of the negligence which killed her.

Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue says she received a mailer from an unknown sender at the Ohio Department of Health. She writes, “Inside was simply a CD with my last name hand-printed on it…. Someone had leaked to me all the records – public and “confidential” – that detailed the Department of Health’s investigation into Wilson’s death.” This information, as well as Wilson’s autopsy report and other documentation, helped Sullenger to gain a clearer picture of what happened to Wilson that day — and it’s not a pretty one. Wilson’s death could have been prevented. Below are some findings that reveal the depth of the negligence leading to this young woman’s demise.

Greater blood loss due to potentially incorrect calculation of gestational age

“The autopsy… relied on Preterm’s records,” says Sullenger, and put Wilson’s gestation age at 19 weeks and four days — just three days before the legal abortion limit in Ohio. But the records on the CD mailed to Sullenger “indicated she was actually closer to 23 weeks.”

This is potentially a four week difference in calculation. The risks of complications from abortion increase as pregnancy advances. And it’s unfortunately not unheard of for an abortion facility (yes, even Planned Parenthood) to “fudge the numbers” when it comes to gestational age.

Did the Preterm abortion facility state that Wilson’s baby was within legal gestational age limits so that abortionist Lisa Perriera could perform an abortion, despite knowing it was illegal? It’s a question that deserves answers, especially if Wilson was indeed further along, potentially causing greater blood loss and shock, and contributing to her death.

The abortion industry doesn’t seem too fond of ultrasounds in general, for various reasons, often acting as if laws requiring ultrasounds before abortion are oppressive to women — even though they know good and well that ultrasound is standard procedure before every abortion.

Accurate ultrasounds are absolutely crucial for the safety of women, and Wilson’s case underscores this.

Failure to monitor vital signs

The extent of Wilson’s blood loss might have been prevented had she received proper monitoring at the abortion facility. Her uterus didn’t properly contract following her abortion (a condition known as “uterine atony”), causing her to hemorrhage, which then led to cardiopulmonary arrest. Sullenger notes that Wilson also suffered “subsequent fatal brain damage all before a Preterm employee finally was told to call 911 for help.”

Wilson isn’t the only woman to hemorrhage and die this way after an abortion. Tonya Reaves died at a Chicago Planned Parenthood after she was left to bleed for five hours without help.

And sadly, improper monitoring has been reported at other abortion facilities.

Unable to provide proper emergency medical care due to facility limitations

Sullenger writes that when emergency personnel arrived at Preterm to help Wilson, she had not been breathing “for at least 28 minutes.” Paramedics couldn’t get to Wilson right away “due to a malfunctioning elevator” but once they finally got to her, they replaced her oxygen mask with a properly fitting one and resuscitated her, but…

… paramedics could not intubate her, which was necessary to ensure that she was receiving enough oxygen. This was because the elevator was so cramped that they could not lay the gurney flat, which was required for intubation.

Again, Wilson isn’t the only woman to suffer because of abortion facilities with such structural limitations. Karnamaya Mongar died after an abortion at Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia “house of horrors” abortion facility. Live Action News’ Christina Marie Bennett reported that “it took paramedics more than 20 minutes to take [Mongar] to the waiting ambulance because the abortion facility’s hallways were too cramped to accommodate a stretcher and the emergency exit lock had to be cut open.”

Requiring abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, with widened hallways and proper access for emergency personnel, might have made a difference for Mongar and Wilson. It could make a difference for many women, who are put at risk when facilities don’t meet these standards.

Instead, in its Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision last summer, the United States Supreme Court lent credence to the idea that such facility standards pose an unnecessary burden to abortion access. Instead of siding with women’s safety, the Supreme Court sided with an abortion facility conglomerate with a list of health code violations a mile long.

Until we require accountability and safety from the abortion industry (which seems like a tall order, given the nature of what it is they do every day), more women like Lakisha Wilson will die. Many, many more — most of whom we will never hear about on the nightly news.

Abortion facilities do not operate like medical facilities. Maybe that’s because what they do isn’t medicine. Women — and their babies — deserve better.

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