Abortionist George Tiller Cleared in Patient's Death

By Dawn Rizzoni | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

(1st Add: Includes information on Christin Gilbert's pre-existing condition)

(CNSNews.com) - One of the nation's most famous abortionists has been cleared of wrongdoing in the death of a 19-year-old woman who underwent an abortion at his clinic. But the nine-month investigation by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, which determined that abortionist George Tiller was not responsible for Christin Gilbert's death, contradicted the results of Gilbert's autopsy.

The autopsy attributed Gilbert's death to sepsis and "complications from a therapeutic abortion."

Gilbert, who had Down Syndrome, was 19 when she underwent a third-trimester abortion at Tiller's clinic on Jan. 13, 2005, and later died from complications.

Kansas Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who had requested the investigation, explained that, "the Board of Healing Arts gets thousands of complaints every year, and it appears they gave this one their utmost attention, as they should have.

"We will continue to work to protect the health and safety of all Kansans and to ensure that patients receive quality health care," Sebelius added.

Pro-life critics charge that both Sebelius and the Board of Healing Arts are unable to deliver an impartial ruling on the matter since the governor is a strong supporter of abortion rights and her campaign received numerous monetary donations from Tiller.

"The (Healing Arts) board's executive director, Larry Buening, is an appointee of Governor Sebelius, who owes her governorship to large campaign contributions made by George Tiller," said Troy Newman, a spokesperson for Operation Rescue.

Cybercast News Service previously reported on the possible conflict of interest raised by the financial contributions to Sebelius from Tiller, who is one of the most controversial abortionists in the country for his willingness to perform partial birth abortions.

Operation Rescue believes the autopsy report is evidence the board's ruling was in error.

"We are very disappointed with the [Kansas Board of Healing Arts] for clearing Tiller in Gilbert's death because we have had the autopsy report analyzed by a number of doctors and medical professionals, and they have told us that Christin's condition was misdiagnosed and that if her temperature had even been taken when she presented with initial complications, she would be alive today," Newman said.

"Something went wrong during the abortion," Newman asserted. "Christin developed an infection originating in the reproductive organs that turned to sepsis, which went undiagnosed until Christin's condition had progressed from treatable to fatal."

When complications set in, according to Newman, Gilbert's family was instructed to first take her from the hotel room where she was recuperating to Tiller's clinic, rather than to a hospital.

A 911 call made from Tiller's office at that time has raised questions.

"The Tiller employee who called for an ambulance ... was evasive and would not tell the dispatcher the true nature of Christin's condition," Newman said. "This showed us that they were trying to cover up what was really going on with her."

Despite doubts from Operation Rescue and other critics, Buening insists that the board's investigation was unbiased. "I personally believe the board has gone to extraordinary lengths to make a fair and unbiased decision based on the medical evidence and the pertinent statutes in a matter that has become highly publicized and politicized," he said.

"A decision that is unpopular to a particular person or group does not indicate the existence of a hidden agenda or any bias," Buening added.

As for the autopsy's conclusion -- that Gilbert died due to "complications of a therapeutic abortion" -- Buening pointed out that as with any other autopsy report, this conclusion is listed under "opinion."

He also stated that the "investigative information was far more extensive than a copy of the autopsy.

"There are potential risks to every medical or surgical procedure," Buening explained. "The occurrence of a complication, even one that unfortunately and regrettably results in the death of a patient, does not a priori lead to the conclusion that the practitioner involved did not meet the appropriate standard of care."

Requests for comment from Tiller's office were not answered.

"There will be follow-up action on our part to hold Tiller responsible for what we believe the documents show was an avoidable death of an innocent woman," Newman said. "We will be announcing that action very soon."

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