SUMMARY: Jammie Garcia, age 15, died of massive infection on February 22, 1994 after an abortion performed by John Coleman at Moshe Hachamovitch's A to Z Clinic in Houston, TX.

Raise your hand if you've heard about how abortion just has to be legal, or else women would have to face them grisly back-alley abortions.

Of all the justifications for the current state of abortion in the United States, this is the one that probably steams me the most, personally. I've reviewed about 6,000 abortion injury and death cases. I've gone through boxes of nothing but autopsy reports on young women and girls dead for no good reason. The idea that it's okay to kill some women legally in order to prevent other women from being killed illegally gets to me.

We can start with Jammie Garcia.

When the documents for Lime 5 were pouring in, I was an abstracting machine. I had a three to four foot stack of documents in my office on any given day that I had to plow through, skim, highlight, read, summarize. I learned to be very detached and clinical, to just get the words and ideas and not let it get to me. But Jammie Garcia got to me.

HachamovitchHeadShot.pngThe first document I reviewed was a March 1994 report on an inspection done in response to a patient death in a clinic owned by Dr. Moshe Hachamovitch. The report said that the staff were inadequately trained in how to properly sterilize instruments. The administrator, Kristen Hing Fehr, was evidently aware of the fact that the autoclave used to sterilize instruments was not functioning properly. As for the instruments themselves, "two loop forceps, two tenaculums and one curette were found to have small particles of dried brownish-dark red material on them. Three speculums were found to have small particles of dried clear material on them." "The only sterilized abortion tray in the procedure room was found to contain a curette with a loop whose edge was visibly jagged instead of smooth." (Source: Travis County District Court Cause No. 94-07517)

Untrained staff? Dirty instruments? Indifferent administration? That's not enough to even get my attention. I'd read one report in which the inspectors asked the staff to demonstrate that the emergency generator was functioning properly. The generator caught fire. I'd seen reports of dogs in clinics, bloody bare mattresses, drunken abortionists falling on the floor. So Moshe Hachamovitch's little abortion mill didn't stand out for its flaws.

Then there was the case of the patient whose death had brought on the inspection. She was identified as 15-year-old "J.G." That was a bad one. It was always hard to read details on a death, but dead kids get to me. I have a daughter myself.

"J.G." had her abortion performed by John Coleman* at Hachamovitch's A to Z abortion facility on February 18, 1994. Four days later, on February 23, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of a Houston hospital, with spiking fever, chills, nausea, pain, respiratory distress, a distended abdomen, low blood oxygen levels, and foul-smelling discharge. An examination revealed inflammation and a tear in her cervix.

This was all tragic, very sad, but again, typical for what I'd see in an abortion death. I dutifully wrote up the case while Mona tried to get more information.

She got a copy of the autopsy report.

When I hear about how we need legal abortion to prevent those horrible back-alley abortions, I can see Mona and me sitting and reading that autopsy report. Mona came across the hall with Jammie's autopsy report in one hand, and another autopsy report in another. She wanted me to really grasp how swollen and boggy Jammie's organs were. Jammie's liver and lungs weighed twice what they should have weighed.

Then Mona and I sat down together and read the rest of the autopsy report. By the time we were done, we were both crying, telling each other, "She was unconscious by then. She had to have been unconscious."

Please, God, let her have been unconscious.

Jammie's body was wracked with abscesses, spreading infection that had entered her body through the damage the abortion had done to her uterus. Her brain was swollen. As near as Mona and I could figure, Jammie's fetid fluids had made their way up through her damaged bowels and into her lungs.

Nobody's little girl should have to die that way.

I'm sorry, but nobody can convince me that Jammie's death was an improvement on the old back-alley abortions. No drunken, trenchcoat-clad pervert with a rusty coathanger could have done more damage, could have killed her any more horribly.

I will never understand the stubborn instance that when a pregnant woman faces challenges, somebody has to die. Why? Why, with so many adoptive homes for her child, did Jammie have to die? Why, with so many prolife pregnancy centers standing by to help her, did Jammie have to die?

Abortion laws didn't kill Jammie Garcia. An abortionist did. Does the fact that he did it in a legally operating "clinic," with medical instruments instead of with a coathanger, make her any less dead?

Abortion advocate dismiss girls like Jammie. "These things happen," they shrug. "All surgery has risks."

Why does that not comfort me? Or, perhaps more to the point, why would it comfort anybody? Why is that good enough for the self-appointed guardians of girls like Jammie?

Women -- and little girls like Jammie Garcia -- will continue to die, as long as they continue to perceive abortion as an escape. And they will continue to perceive it as an escape as long as there is a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign shouting from the rooftops the wonders and benefits of safe-n-legal abortion.

The way to end the horrible abortion deaths isn't to make excuses for the abortionists who kill girls like Jammie. The way to end the horrible abortion deaths isn't to promote abortion -- it's to end abortion. And the way to end abortion is to start caring about the women more than about politics. Abortion needs to be feared, dreaded, shunned, recoiled from, rejected, not held up as a right and celebrated. And we need to start thinking less about lifestyles of the rich and famous, and more of the life of the mother.

*I have since learned that Coleman was so sickly that he himself died on the day of Jammie's funeral. ("28 lawsuits name abortion clinic owner," Arizona Daily Star, January 18, 1999)

NOTE:
Five other patients are known to have died either under Hachamovitch's direct care or under the care of an employe at one of his clinics.

Tanya Williamson
This young woman was inadequately monitored in recovery and allowed to lapse into respiratory arrest. She died on in September of 1996

Luz Rodriguez
Allowed to bleed to death in 1986 under Hachamovitch's direct care in the Bronx.

Christina Goesswein
Hachamovitch brought her to his office at 4 a.m. to treat grave complications.She died in October of 1990.

Lisa Bardsley
Bled to death on the way home from her safe, legal abortion at one of Hachamovitch's facilities in Arizona in 1995.

Lou Anne Herron
Her pleas for help went unheeded as she bled to death in Hachamovitch's Arizona abortion clinic in 1998.

Sources:
  • Patient Deaths," White Plains Journal, Jan. 31, 1999

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