Maryland Approved Initial License for Abortion Clinic Weeks After Woman Died From 33-Week Abortion
(CNSNews.com) -- In a letter dated one month and one day after 29-year-old Jennifer McKenna Morbelli died from complications following the termination of her 33-week pregnancy, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene approved a surgical abortion license for Germantown Reproduction Health Services.
That clinic is where Dr. LeRoy Carhart provides late-term abortions, including the four-day abortion procedure that killed Morbelli’s unborn child by lethal injection through the mother’s abdomen and drug-induced labor to deliver the dead baby.
The March 8, 2013 letter, provided to CNSNews.com by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), is addressed to Maryland Senate and House officials to provide “an update on regulation of surgical abortion facilities” in the state. (See DHMH March 8 letter.pdf)
The letter states that in July 2012 the department published rules “that for the first time made Maryland surgical abortion facilities subject to licensure.” Those licenses are issued by the DHMH and implemented by the DHMH’s Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ).
The letter states that “over the past several weeks” the department had begun “initial regulatory surveys” – or inspections – that include a review of medical records, review of policies and procedures, interviews of patients and staff, observation, and other information collection “as needed.”
The letter states that of the 16 surgical abortion facilities operating in Maryland, 13 “were found to be free of deficiencies that presented an immediate and serious threat to the health and safety of patients.”
Dori Henry, director of communications for DHMH, confirmed via e-mail that Germantown Reproductive Health Services was one of the 13 that passed initial inspection. (The three clinics that did not pass inspection were run by Associates in OB/GYN Care, LLC, and their licenses were suspended “[ending the correction of deficiencies.”)
The letter concludes by stating, “/under the regulations, surgical abortion facilities that either fail to seek licensure or fail to meet acceptable standards will not be permitted to operate in Maryland. We will continue to provide updates to the legislative committees as this new regulatory program moves forward.”
When asked earlier by CNSNews.com whether the DMHM was investigating Morbelli’s death, Dori Henry said via email: “As we have confirmed earlier, OHCQ is investigating a complaint about this reported incident, and is also conducting a survey as part of licensure.”
“The process is not yet complete,” Henry said. “We expect to have an update in the next few weeks.”
According to a June 22 memorandum to the directors of surgical abortion centers from Nancy Grimm, the director of OHCQ, “a surgical abortion facility means an outpatient facility that provides surgical termination of pregnancy as a regular service ….”
A Feb. 13, 2013 memorandum issued by the DHMH includes an estimate of eight weeks to “complete inspections at all abortion facilities that have applied for or obtained an initial license, and it will continue to evaluate and investigate complaints.”
Following Morbelli’s death, Maryland’s chief medical examiner released an initial cause of death report to news outlets citing “amniotic fluid embolism following termination of pregnancy” and “disseminated intravascular coagulation.”
The latter, according to WebMd, is when “the body's natural ability to regulate blood clotting does not function properly. This causes the blood's clotting cells to clump together and clog small blood vessels throughout the body. This excessive clotting damages organs, destroys blood cells, and depletes the supply of platelets and other clotting factors so that the blood is no longer able to clot normally. This often causes widespread bleeding, both internally and externally.”
Bruce Goldfarb, spokesman for the Medical Examiner’s Office, initially confirmed the mother’s cause of death to news outlets. But when asked by CNSNews.com, Goldfarb said because Morbelli’s death was still being investigated, the results of her autopsy were “no longer releasable.”
Operation Rescue has filed a complaint with the Maryland Board of Physicians seeking revocation of Carhart’s medical license.
Staff at Germantown Reproduction Health Services confirmed to CNSNews.com that Carhart is still practicing at the clinic.