Summary: Dr. Romeo A. Ferrer performed a fatal abortion on Denise Crowe, age 21, at Gynecare in Severna Park, MD. She died February 3, 2006.


Dr. Romeo A. Ferrer

Like many abortion "clinics", Dr. Romeo Ferrer's private practice, Gynecare Center, would look to the untrained eye like an outpatient clinic. A patient making an appointment there would likely believe she was in a licensed clinic, not a doctor's office. (Their website, in fact, described the facility as "a modern, clean clinic designed to provide quality healthcare for women and girls of all ages in the Maryland area," even though, as the medical board noted, the facility was only a private doctor's office and not licensed as a clinic.)

DeniseCrowe Family.jpg
Denise Crowe's family
Denise Crowe, was 21 years old, dropped her 3-year-old son off with a babysitter and drove to Ferrer's clinic-looking office for an abortion on February 3, 2006. She had $800 to pay for the procedure. She was 16 weeks pregnant.

"She thought she'd just have it done and nobody would know," her mother, Stephanie White, later told the Baltimore Sun.

Denise was in good health, with a history of two "uncomplicated abortions" and a miscarriage. "On her health history form, it was noted that [her] reason for terminating her pregnancy was, 'can't afford it right now.'" Denise was accompanied to her appointment by a friend, who was helping to keep the abortion a secret from her family: mother Stephanie White, son Latrell A. Royster Jr. and sister Tieya Parker.

Ferrer started the abortion, a D&E abortion, at about 1:00 p.m., using ultrasound to help him visualize the baby as he dismembered it. Twenty-five minutes later, Ferrer was still pulling fetal parts out of his patient, and administered 20 units of pitocin via an IV solution. Five minutes later, he added 125 mg of Demerol and 5 mg of midazolam (Versed, a short-acting sedative and amnesia-producing medication). Because "pt. was still reacting to pain", Ferrer administered additional doses of Demerol and midazolam. It wasn't until 1:45 that Ferrer completed the abortion.

Denise was moved to the recovery room, where at 1:47 a "surgical assistant" noticed signs of cyanosis (blue coloring) in Denise's fingernails. A nurse assistant was unable to get a blood pressure or pulse reading on Denise, and told Ferrer. He gave a verbal order for 0.4 mg Narcan, which was administered by the nurse assistant. Narcan is a drug to counteract narcotics.

At 1:50, Ferrer began efforts to resuscitate Denise, including performing CPR, and having an assistant perform CPR while he administered intracardiac epinephrine. Staff called 911 while Ferrer continued resuscitation efforts, maintaining an open airway with the non-professional method of head tilt and chin lift. Ferrer did not use an airway or endotracheal tube, as is customary with professionally-administered CPR.

The medics arrived to find Denise still unresponsive and without a pulse. The medics used an oxygen mask and additional drugs as they transported Denise to Anne Arundel Medical Center. There, emergency room staff continued the attempts to resuscitate her, to no avail. She was pronounced dead at 2:57 p.m.

The autopsy found no underlying physical reason for Denise's heart to have stopped. The cause of death was given as "Meperidine intoxication" (an overdose of Demerol).

The medical board faulted Ferrer in his care of Denise:

1. Ferrer administered successive "push" dosages of medications. He should have titrated (gradually administered) the second dose. "[T]he second dosage was too large and administered too quickly."

2. Despite having had a written policy in place since 1994 to provide proper monitoring, Ferrer did not use a pulse oximeter to monitor Denise's pulse and blood oxygen, nor were her pulse and blood pressure monitored every five minutes during the 45 minutes of surgery. Ferrer also failed to provide oxygen to Denise during surgery. "[Ferrer's] failure to monitor [Denise] appropriately during and after the abortion constitutes a violation of the standard of quality care."

3. During resuscitation, Ferrer did not use an airway and did not provide supplemental oxygen with an ambu-bag.

In short, Ferrer gave Denise too much medication too quickly, causing her to stop breathing, and failed to monitor her closely enough to notice in a timely manner. He then failed to adequately resuscitate her.

naflogo.jpgThe National Abortion Federation defended Ferrer, with spokeswoman Melissa Fowler telling the Annapolis Capital that abortion is safe due to "specialized quality care provided by clinics like Gynecare Center." This indicates that Gynecare was a National Abortion Federation member.

UPDATE: The medical board did go through with suspending Ferrer's license. They learned of the incident when Denise's family sued.