The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Planned Parenthood Sued for Tanya Reaves' Death After Abortion

Tonya Reaves, 24, went to Planned Parenthood in the Loop on the morning of July 20 for a dilation and evacuation abortion. By the end of the night, she was dead. The events during the day, though still disputed, are beginning to paint a picture of possible negligence.

Reaves had the initial abortion procedure at 11 a.m., according to WBBM Newsradio. Five and a half hours later, she was rushed to the hospital because of continued bleeding. An ultrasound and second abortion was performed at 5:30 p.m. The bleeding and pain continued. A perforation, or small hole, was found in her uterus. She was taken in for surgery at 10:12 p.m., when an uncontrollable bleed was discovered. She was pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m.

The autopsy report, obtained by Operation Rescue (a pro-life organization), reflects that the two abortions were incomplete, meaning part of the placenta was still attached to her womb. The autopsy also found a uterine perforation near forceps impression marks. There was "extensive" perforation of her broad uterine ligament and her left uterine artery was possibly severed, the report states.

Tonya Reaves' family filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood late last month. The autopsy report seems like it supports their claims.

In order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, one has to demonstrate that a provider's care fell below the standard of the ordinary doctor. If Reaves' family can prove her uterine perforation and her possibly severed artery were not typical complications for her type of procedure, then that may help to prove a negligently performed abortion.

Also, negligence might be reflected by the five and a half hours between the abortion and the trip to the hospital. According to WebMD, a standard dilation and extraction abortion should only take about 30 minutes. Whether the five-hour delay in seeking medical treatment was appropriate (as some bleeding is normal after an abortion) will be another matter for which a medical expert's opinion would be necessary to gauge.

A third issue that might arise is the multiple abortions and medical providers. Even after Reaves' second abortion, there seems to have been remnants of placenta left behind. Also, in order to prevail in a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood, it will have to be shown by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not) that the second abortion did not cause or exacerbate the perforations or the possibly severed artery.

To be clear, we're obviously not doctors, nor should this article reflect any pro-life or pro-choice views. These are simply some of the issues that Tonya Reeves' family may confront as their medical malpractice lawsuit proceeds.

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