Woman critical after late-term abortion

Your tax dollars hard at work funding the billion dollar Australian abortion industry …

August 27, 2011

A woman is in a critical condition following a late-term abortion performed at the same clinic in Victoria where an anaesthetist who worked there is alleged to have infected dozens of patients with hepatitis C.

The woman has been in Box Hill Hospital for more than a week since the late-term abortion was performed at a Croydon clinic.

The woman, aged in her 40s, was 23 weeks pregnant, and State Health Minister David Davis says an investigation is underway.

The woman is still in intensive care in a critical condition after suffering organ failure.

Late abortions are performed in stages, generally over two days, and usually in hospitals because of the potential risks.

Sources have told Lateline that on the second day, the woman was rushed to hospital after undergoing the final part of the procedure.

The Medical Board of Australia is investigating the case but it is yet to reach a conclusion.

A formal complaint has also been made to the Nursing and Midwifery Board.

The owner and physician at the clinic, Dr Mark Schulberg, has appeared before the Medical Board of Australia to explain what happened.

Dr Schulberg would not be interviewed, but told Lateline the woman had a serious pre-existing condition and the abortion had nothing to do with her current state of health.

Dr Schulberg is known as Australia’s late abortion specialist, the physician women turn to when no one else will take their case.

Some senior obstetricians we spoke to say he performs a valuable service to women in need.

Dr Schulberg’s clinic itself has been in the news before.

In May this year an anaesthetist who worked there was charged with allegedly infecting 49 patients at the clinic with hepatitis C between 2008 and 2009.

Mr Davis said while he could not comment on the specifics, it was a concerning case.

“I think Victorians would be quite concerned, but I don’t want to go into the specifics of the case for the obvious reasons of confidentiality,” Mr Davis said.

“What is clear is that a patient from a private centre was referred to Box Hill Hospital. My primary concern is the health and safety of that patient.

“As I understand it the patient is in very good care at Box Hill Hospital. And the safety of that family, patient and their family has been the primary concern.”

James Cook University Professor in obstetrics and gynaecology, Caroline de Costa, told Lateline hospitals are the suitable place for late-term abortions to be performed.

“She needs to have appropriate medical care and assessment, plus the ability to look after her in an emergency situation if that arises,” she said.

“There can be complications, there can be haemorrhage. The woman needs the support of hospital staff. Occasionally she may need to be taken to the operating theatre.

“She may need certain medications, she may need pain relief and so on. And she certainly needs the support and skill of experienced nursing staff.

“It won’t arise often, but she needs to have access to blood transfusions, to the operating theatre, to skilled medical care which is available in hospitals.”

Dr de Costa says there are many reasons for late abortions.

“Usually [it’s] because there’s a diagnosis of a severe abnormality in the child often incompatible with life or incompatible with quality of life that is acceptable to the parents,” she said.

“Sometimes because the mother has developed a medical condition during pregnancy which is being exacerbated by the pregnancy continuing. So it’s usually done for a major medical indication.”


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