A 23-year-old woman is suing a hospital in Peoria, Illinois, saying facility staff coerced her into an abortion after they made a medical error that threatened the life of her unborn child. The lawsuit has been filed against UnityPoint Health-Methodist, according to Heart of Illinois ABC. In court documents, the plaintiff seeks in excess of $50,000 in financial compensation.
Hospital Accused Of Pressuring Pregnant Woman Into Abortion
In her lawsuit, the plaintiff claims to have visited the hospital in November 2017, seeking medical attention for a problem with her medications. But during the course of routine testing, the hospital’s staff informed her that she was pregnant, a fact of which she was not previously aware. A sonogram showed her baby to be about 7 weeks old, a healthy child.
Then, something went wrong, she says. There was a “miscommunication” among hospital units, and she was accidentally injected with methotrexate, an arthritis medication that causes severe and permanent birth defects when administered to pregnant women. The plaintiff’s attorney says she was injected with methotrexate without her consent and without an explanation of the potential risks during her pregnancy.
Peoria Staff Attempted To Conceal Medical Error, Plaintiff Says
The hospital soon became aware of its error, the plaintiff claims, after which facility physicians held two meetings with her to inform her of the risks of methotrexate exposure to her unborn child. Despite the risks, the plaintiff says she committed to bring the child to term. That’s when the pressure ramped up. Next, she met with the hospital’s risk manager, who again counseled her on the risks of carrying her child to term.
But in her heart, she wanted to keep the baby, and a trip to an abortion clinic in Peoria confirmed her convictions. She left the abortion clinic after seeing an ultrasound of her child. But the hospital didn’t let up. According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, the hospital’s risk manager continued to call on her family, ultimately offering her $2,000 for a consultation at a Chicago-area Planned Parenthood clinic. Attorneys say these calls were never recorded in her medical records, but the hospital’s pressure had its intended effect. She went through with the abortion on December 15, 2017. She says she felt pressured into the operation, as if she had no choice in the matter due to the hospital and risk manager’s increasing pressure.
“One Of The Ugliest Fact Patterns I Have Ever Seen”
“This case has one of the ugliest fact patterns I have ever seen,” says plaintiff’s attorney Thomas R. Mulroy III, who is representing the young woman. “A perfectly healthy fetus was given a deadly injection based on reckless communication. The hospital administration knew full well they would have been legally responsible for the considerable healthcare costs associated with the baby’s birth injury. The hospital purely had their own interests in mind and failed to take [my client’s] wishes into consideration.”
He continued: “the agents and employees of UnityPoint knew that if they informed [the plaintiff] that the child’s medical costs would be covered, there was a possibility that this information could help her decide to carry the child to term.”
Mother Expresses Anguish, Hope For Change
In a statement, the plaintiff, a mother of two boys, expressed anguish over the painful decision she feels she was forced to make. “No one should ever have to make that decision. I think about what happened every single day and I hope another woman will never have to feel the pain I have felt since this happened.”
UnityPoint Health has not yet commented on the allegations in the lawsuit. When asked for a statement, Fabiola Orozco, a hospital spokesperson, said, “UnityHealth does not comment on pending litigation,” according to the Peoria Journal Star. Meanwhile, at a press conference attended by various members of the media, the plaintiff’s attorney was unequivocal in his recriminations: “the mistake in this was absolutely inexcusable. There is one important rule that everyone in health care follows. The rule is this, no matter what you do, don’t make things worse. First, do no harm. The hospital flunked this test in the most appalling way.”