Abortionist David Benjamin (also know as Elyas Bonrouhi) killed 33-year old Honduran native Guadalupe Negron, a mother of four at the Metro Women’s Center abortion clinic in Queens, New York, on July 9, 1993.
Benjamin’s license had been revoked a month earlier for “gross incompetence and negligence” in rupturing the uteruses of five other women, but medical officials allowed him to continue his practice. But as early as 1980, after he was dismissed from a Utica hospital for substandard work, New York health officials already knew that he was a public health menace.
During Negron’s abortion, Benjamin proceeded to extract pieces of a 20-week old preborn baby without first performing any kind of examination. He lacerated Negron’s cervix and punctured her uterus, causing severe bleeding. The abortion began at 10 AM. The receptionist for the abortion mill testified that Negron was moved into recovery and was not monitored for over an hour. Benjamin’s wife, who acted as an assistant, took her back into the exam room and came out screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Call the ambulance! Call the ambulance!” Benjamin did not summon an ambulance until 1:40 PM. Paramedics found a breathing tube inserted into Negron’s stomach instead of her trachea, causing stomach fluids to travel up the tube, into the mask, and down into her lungs. A paramedic said he found Negron naked and bloody, while a nurse was screaming and trying to revive her in a small, unventilated room with an inadequate oxygen tank and no necessary equipment such as blood pressure cuff. The paramedic stated Benjamin lied about nature of Negron’s problem, hindering attempts to save her. Negron’s autopsy report attributed her death to massive bleeding causing shock and cardiac arrest.
Benjamin was indicted on murder charges due to “depraved indifference to human life.” A paramedic told a reporter “I wouldn’t take my dog there (Benjamin’s clinic).” Benjamin was charged with second-degree murder. A news article indicates that Benjamin’s attorney found fault with the paramedic for presuming the information given to him by Benjamin was complete and accurate. Benjamin’s license was revoked in 1993 over charges pending prior to Negron’s death.
Even the National Abortion Federation (NAF) applauded Benjamin’s murder conviction. “The evidence presented in the case makes clear that Dr. Benjamin’s practices were absolutely unacceptable,” said Vicki Saporta, Executive Director of NAF. “Shoddy and substandard doesn’t even begin to describe his methods. He should not have been practicing medicine.” Strangely, though the NAF had done nothing prior to Negron’s death to stop Benjamin from practicing medicine.
Saporta, however, pointed the finger of blame not on the National Abortion Federation’s failure to take action despite multiple indications that Benjamin was practicing substandard medicine, or even on Benjamin himself, but on pro-lifers.
“The sad fact is that, because of the political controversy surrounding abortion, anti-choice policies exist that make it difficult for women to get basic information about the many safe, quality providers of abortion services … A doctor like David Benjamin depends on the anti-choice extremists of this country who work to make women ashamed and fearful. We should not have back alleys in 1995, but sadly, we do â€” because anti-abortion forces work to take funding, access and information away from women.”
Benjamin had previously been found guilty of, among other things, gross negligence, gross incompetence, and abandoning or neglecting a patient and failing to keep accurate medical records. His license had been suspended for three months and he had received a period of probation. He had also lost privileges in two hospitals in 1982 and 1983. He applied for hospital privileges in 1989, fraudulently concealed these disciplinary actions. News reports described his abortion mill as a “slaughterhouse” and “dark, filthy, poorly ventilated.” News articles alleged Benjamin also did abortions in the basement of his house, and that he disappeared after an investigation into Negron’s death was begun.
On March 16, 2000, a New York State Court of Appeals upheld Benjamin’s 1995 murder conviction. He will continue serving his 25-year-to-life sentence following the decision by the Appellate Division.
“This is a solid victory for patients and their families who, through the gross and depraved indifference of their medical practitioners, lose their lives,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, whose office brought the case.
Harold Pokel, who handled Benjamin’s appeal, said he was “very disappointed in the result.” Pokel had argued that testimony about Benjamin’s previous problematic medical history should have been excluded at trial; it was allowed, and prejudiced the jury, he said. He promised to take Benjamin’s case to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
References: Press release of the National Abortion Federation entitled “Abortion Providers Praise Verdict Against New York Doctor” dated August 8, 1995; PRI Newswire, August 8, 1995; Dave Andrusko. “Doctor Indicted in New York Woman’s Abortion Death.” The Wanderer, September 2, 1993, pages 1 and 6; Paul Likoudis. “Investigators Cast a Wide Net To Find Abortionist’s Murderer.” The Wanderer, December 10, 1998, pages 1 and 10; Dave Andrusko. “[David] Benjamin Indicted On Murder Charges.” National Right to Life News, September 14, 1993, page 5; Dave Andrusko. “Indictment Pending In New York Woman’s Abortion Death.” National Right to Life News, August 11, 1993, pages 5 and 24; New York Daily News, July 11 and 13, 1992, and July 11, 13 and 14, 1993; New York Post, August 11, 1993; Medical Board Order Number BPMC-93-79; New York Times Metro Section, July 18 and 20, 1995; New York Newsday, August 23, 1993; Dave Andrusko. “Benjamin Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Botched Abortion.” National Right to Life News, August 22, 1995, page 4; “Appeals Court Upholds Abortion Practitioner’s Murder Conviction.” Steven Ertelt’s Pro-Life Infonet at http://www.prolifeinfo.org/infonet.html, March 27, 2000; Associated Press, March 23, 2000.
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