'An absolute nightmare'
Abortion | Former Planned Parenthood employees offer riveting testimony about deplorable conditions at two Delaware abortion centers
by J.C. Derrick
Posted 5/29/13, 07:29 pm
DOVER, Del.—When Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was sentenced earlier this month to three life terms in prison, a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America applauded the verdict: “This case has made clear that we must have and enforce laws that protect access to safe and legal abortion, and we must reject misguided laws that would limit women’s options and force them to seek treatment from criminals like Kermit Gosnell.”
But Planned Parenthood is a big part of the problem, according to two former employees of the nation’s largest abortion provider who testified Wednesday before state lawmakers in Delaware. A pair of pro-abortion nurses, Joyce Vasikonis and Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich, explained to a bipartisan panel in vivid detail the “meat market-style assembly-line abortions” provided at Planned Parenthood of Delaware.
“It was an absolute nightmare,” Mitchell-Werbrich said. “I’m surprised more people haven’t lost their lives there.”
Vasikonis spent more than 20 minutes detailing what she observed—and tried in vain to fix—last year at Planned Parenthood centers in Dover and Wilmington. The charges bore many similarities to the unsafe conditions at Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion facility: unsterilized instruments, faulty oxygen masks, untrained staff, disregard for patients, breaking privacy laws, and failure to report patient complications. (See a complete list of Vasikonis’ accusations at the end of this article.)
Mitchell-Werbrich spent even longer on her testimony, saying she was angry that repeated attempts to draw attention to the dangerous conditions were ignored. She said state officials had continuously failed to take action until a Philadelphia television station reported on the story in April.
Mitchell-Werbrich slammed Planned Parenthood for, among other things, its failure to administer a post-abortion drug called RhoGAM to patients with negative blood types. As a result, “it is likely that many women in Delaware may have to deal with future babies who have severe anemia, jaundice, brain damage, heart failure or even death,” she said. “These women may not even realize the fact that Planned Parenthood could be at fault for these medical tragedies even years after they had their abortions.”
Both women named abortionist Timothy Liveright for his especially dangerous practices, saying he “would be in such a hurry to get the patients in and out that he himself would bring the patients back into the unclean procedure room, where the examination table would still have bloody drainage and body fluids on it from the previous patient.”
Mitchell-Werbrich said nurses would sometimes hide a patient’s chart to give the procedure medications time to take effect “because he was in such a rush to get to the next patient.” They said Liveright was compensated on a per-procedure basis.
Planned Parenthood receives more than $1 million per day in taxpayer funding. Democratic state Sen. Robert Venables, who convened the hearing with Republican state Sen. Greg Lavelle, noted that last year the state of Delaware gave more than $400,000 to Planned Parenthood.
“The rest of the [Delaware] General Assembly should hear what we heard today and they might have second thoughts,” Venables said.
Planned Parenthood is currently self-regulated in Delaware. I asked Mitchell-Werbrich if the organization needs outside regulation, and she said, “As far as I’m concerned Planned Parenthood should be closed and a new name come up—like ‘Women Matter.’”
Mitchell-Werbrich said even the highest levels of the organization “aren’t getting it together,” so she wants “the whole thing” shut down.
The nurses acknowledged that Planned Parenthood of Delaware temporarily stopped doing surgical abortions last month but complained the abortion centers are still in operation.
“Patients continue to be seen at Planned Parenthood. I do not understand that,” Mitchell-Werbrich told me. “People could die there.”
Both women repeatedly emphasized their pro-abortion beliefs and said Planned Parenthood’s infractions cover a wide range of services, not just abortions. Vasikonis said she didn’t want to decrease access to abortion, but “what I found was that the culture of Planned Parenthood of Delaware was focused on maximizing profits and the bottom line, not quality healthcare for women.”
- “All staff was inadequately trained, particularly in blood-borne pathogens.”
- “Management was inadequately trained.”
- “No policy and procedure manuals were available for staff.”
- “No job duty descriptions for staff.”
- “Disregard for patient needs or comfort.”
- “Disregard for staff input or suggestions.”
- “Staff were to work until services were completed without any breaks.”
- “I experienced both sexual and racial harassment.”
- “Many staff members were fired without cause.”
- “Abnormal STD (sexually transmitted disease) lab results and STAT labs (to be completed and reported immediately) were not followed per protocol.”
- “The clinics were severely disorganized and there was a carelessness in job performance.”
- “Patient scheduling was not controlled in response to inadequate staffing levels; patients often had no place to sit and waited as long as six hours to be seen.”
- “Outdated equipment and [supplies] remained in use.”
- “Broken equipment and supplies remained in the clinical setting.”
- “HIPPA compliance (patient confidentiality) was violated daily.”
- “Quality and risk management policies were not followed or enforced.”
- “Surgical suites and recovery rooms were not thoroughly cleaned between patients.”
- “Patient complications were not reported.”
- “Sterile instruments were not handled in a manner consistent with accepted sterile technique.”
- “Dr. Timothy Liveright did not wear sterile gloves during procedures.”
- “Speed was the ultimate goal.”
J.C. is WORLD Radio’s managing editor. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012 and eventually becoming WORLD’s Washington Bureau chief. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.