Southwestern Women’s Options clinic on Lomas Blvd. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Six months expecting at the age of 23, Keisha Atkins spent the final week of her daily life seeking to get an elective authorized abortion in 2017 in Albuquerque.

She died midway by way of the dayslong outpatient approach.

For that, the College of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and a non-public late-term abortion clinic in Albuquerque agreed to fork out her estate a overall of $1.26 million in trade for the dismissal of a politically charged wrongful demise/professional medical malpractice lawsuit, in accordance to condition and courtroom records obtained by the Journal.

UNM, which point out information present paid $365,000 of the full, was accused of negligently referring Atkins to the non-public Southwestern Women’s Possibilities clinic around downtown Albuquerque immediately after she was considered ineligible for an elective abortion at UNM’s Center for Reproductive Wellbeing.

Southwestern Women’s Possibilities, started by Dr. Curtis Boyd, agreed by way of a court docket mediation to settle for $900,000 the promises that its subsequent remedy of Atkins fell under the regular of care and was negligent, court information exhibit.

The lawsuit submitted by Atkins’ mother and sister alleged clinic suppliers failed to detect, diagnose and supply care for the younger girl right after she showed indications of sepsis two days into a health-related induction abortion course of action. This sort of procedures demand a lady to be administered treatment to quit the fetal heartbeat, go dwelling, and then return to a medical company to bear labor and shipping and delivery of the fetus.

The clinic and its physicians denied any wrongdoing in response to the statements.

Legal professionals symbolizing UNMH and the personal abortion clinic didn’t return Journal cell phone phone calls trying to find remark.

Southwestern Women’s Option clinic, in settling its part of the lawsuit, sought a confidentiality provision to bar the get-togethers from speaking about the settlement. They are particularly not permitted to disparage the clinic or its medical practitioners, according to the settlement agreement, which was filed as an exhibit in the lawsuit.

The settlements were attained very last slide the situation was formally dismissed in April.

Basic safety fears

The Albuquerque lawyer who brought the scenario on behalf of the estate of Keisha Atkins, her mother Tina Atkins and her sister Nicole Atkins had tiny to say about the circumstance when contacted by the Journal.

“I can only say that it’s settled,” reported legal professional Michael Seibel of Albuquerque, who was described as an “active pro everyday living advocate” in court docket information. “I’m not heading to disparage them around this scenario.”

But Jamie Jeffries, of the advocacy team “Abortion on Demo,” informed the Journal she thinks Atkins’ loss of life and settlement underscores the need for providing secure strategies and counseling to women of all ages trying to find abortions.

“What we’re hoping to say and do, particularly for the girls of New Mexico, is just finding that widespread ground, irrespective of who’s for or against abortion rights, we all want ladies to be safe, we want females to reside and referring women of all ages out for outpatient induction abortion is not a fantastic way to safeguard girls.”

Jeffries’s firm lately publicized the settlement with UNM on its site, which include furnishing excerpts of videotape depositions in the case.

Over and above the politically charged abortion legal rights challenge, she claimed national experts who accomplish abortions who believe that late-time period induction abortions, these as occurred in Atkins’s situation, should be finished “in a medical center in which they are regularly monitoring.”

New Mexico permits elective abortions at any phase of a being pregnant, and Boyd’s clinic has been just one of the few suppliers nationwide to supply late-term abortions. The clinic web page states abortions are done up to 32 months, and on a scenario-by-scenario basis following that time.

Questioned about UNMH’s existing plan on carrying out elective abortions, UNMH spokesman Mark Rudi responded by electronic mail, “UNM Health prioritizes individual care and puts patients first. We can not examine distinct circumstances or people.”

Having said that, a girl who answered the cellphone at the UNM Heart for Reproductive Wellness reported very last week that elective abortions are carried out at up to 22 months.

Requested no matter whether UNMH nonetheless refers sufferers to Southwestern Women’s Possibilities, Rudi responded in an e-mail, “UNM Health presents a huge assortment of solutions and assist networks for patients primarily based on that patient’s demands.”

Determined predicament

Authorized abortion is deemed a fairly protected health-related process, in accordance to experts. The threat of maternal dying amongst expecting women of all ages is approximated to be 8.8 for every 100,000 dwell births, in comparison to considerably less than 1 death for each individual 100,000 abortion methods, according to court docket filings from authorities in the situation.

In 2017, the year Atkins died, two ladies died in the U.S. as a outcome of troubles from legal induced abortion, according to knowledge reported to the Facilities for Disorder Regulate and Prevention. Due to the fact not all states report to the CDC, it was not very clear no matter whether Atkins’ death was counted in the nationwide report. A spokeswoman advised the Journal very last 7 days that CDC disclosure of state-degree details on this sort of deaths is not permitted.

In the U.S., abortions taking place at or soon after 21 weeks gestation are scarce. According to the CDC’s Abortion Surveillance Information, the extensive bulk of abortions (91%) manifest at or in advance of 13 months gestation and just 1.2% of abortions are carried out at or after 21 months.

Why Atkins, who worked at a area cafe, waited so lengthy into her being pregnant to seek an abortion wasn’t resolved in courtroom filings in the circumstance.

Information in the scenario present she went to UNM Center for Reproductive Wellness to seek an elective abortion on or about Jan. 23, 2017, and returned for an examination a week afterwards. At that place she was 24 weeks into her being pregnant, and was referred to Southwestern Women’s Possibilities.

UNM Professional medical Group employees contacted the personal clinic, confirmed the availability of an appointment time and scheduled the appointment for her, hand delivering their ultrasound benefits to the clinic on Jan. 31, 2017, the lawsuit alleged.

The future day, Atkins began the three- to 4-working day abortion system at the clinic. Two days later she returned to the clinic, and was administered fluids. 9 hours afterwards, her critical indications “and her troubled respiratory had not enhanced considering the fact that her arrival,” the lawsuit mentioned.

An ambulance was summoned and she arrived at the unexpected emergency section of UNM Healthcare facility with a fever, respiratory distress and a fast heart fee. She deteriorated additional around the next 5 hours, and late that night time was transferred to the functioning place to complete the abortion approach.

“During the course of action she experienced cardiac arrest and became pulseless,” the lawsuit mentioned.

The lawsuit to begin with sued the Workplace of Health-related Investigator for ruling the lead to of dying as “natural” because of to pregnancy, saying the authentic lead to of death was septic abortion. The OMI autopsy decided her cause of demise was a pulmonary thromboembolism thanks to being pregnant. Authorized statements towards the OMI and the doctors named in the circumstance were being afterwards dropped.

Her mom, Tina Atkins, couldn’t be reached for comment. But a portion of her 2019 videotaped deposition in the situation seems on Abortion on Trial’s social media pages.

Asked to explain her romance with her daughter, Atkins testified, “She was one good child, gentleman.”

She recalled viewing her daughter in the emergency space battling for her lifestyle.

Keisha was combative, and “a minimal bit delirious,” Atkins claimed.

But she could nonetheless talk.

“The first thing that came out of her mouth was, ‘Mom, I’m heading to die.’”

Boyd could not be arrived at for comment for this story. In an excerpt of his Oct. 24, 2019, deposition, Boyd mentioned his clinic made available a complete array of next- and 3rd-trimester abortions.

Boyd started accomplishing late-phrase abortions in New Mexico in 2010 immediately after the deadly taking pictures of his good friend, Dr. George Tiller, in Wichita, Kansas, a calendar year earlier by an anti-abortion activist. Tiller had been clinical director of one of only a few abortion clinics nationwide that available late-phrase abortions.

“I don’t want to say ‘no’ to a person who’s in a desperate problem,” Boyd testified. “I come from a spiritual qualifications. I’m an ordained minister and I believe that in compassion and service – assistance previously mentioned self. Which is my calling.”