By JANE SHEALY, FLORIDA TODAY Staff Writer
A 21-year-old Pennsylvania woman, who complained of abortion-related complications, died early Tuesday – five days after her pregnancy had been terminated at Aware Woman Clinic in Melbourne.
Maureen Lynn Tyke of North Huntington, Pa., died at 4:15 a.m. at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. Tyke, who lives with her parents Anthony and Lois Tyke Sr., had been visiting an unidentified friend in Brevard. Family members contacted at their Pennsylvania home refused comment.
Clinic owner Patricia Windle said the death is the clinic’s first fatality in seven years of operation and only the second reported abortion-related death in Florida this year. The death of a patient at the Woman’s Care Center in Miami was the first. Hipolito Barreiro, the owner of the Miami facility, has been charged with four felonies, including manslaughter and unlawful practice of medicine.
Windle identified Tyke’s physician only as Bayard Britton, a doctor from North Florida. Britton, whom Windle said has worked regularly at the clinic since 1978, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Windle estimated that more than 8,000 abortions have been done at the clinic with only one other serious complication. A patient was treated for a perforated uterus and bowel and recovered, Windle said.
Every possible effort was made to save Tyke’s life, she said.
“It is very unclear as to whether this unfortunate death was primarily related to her surgery,” Windle said. “There are a number of complicating and contributing factors.”
Windle said that prior to Tyke’s first trimester abortion (an abortion performed in the first three months of pregnancy) none of the laboratory results or her medical history precluded the surgery. Tyke was provided with oral and written instructions on the risks and post-operative care before she gave her written consent, Windle said.
However, during the vacuum-aspiration procedure, gynecologic “anomalies” were discovered, Windle said without elaborating. The procedure was completed and recovery was uneventful, she said.
The clinic’s first indication that something was wrong was a telephone call at 11 a.m. Sunday, 47 hours after the surgery, Windle said. Tyke’s unidentified friend was instructed to take Tyke to the Holmes emergency room, she said.
During that conversation, the friend said Tyke had become ill on Saturday evening and through the night, Windle said.
Tyke was told to call the clinic in the event of any illness, but did not, Windle said.
The next call the clinic received was from Holmes emergency room at 11 p.m. Sunday, 12 hours after Tyke had been told to seek immediate care, Windle said.
Clinic personnel responded instantly by going to the emergency room with all of the records,” Windle said. “Dr. Britton immediately contacted the emergency room physicians as requested.”
“During the entire period which followed until the time of the woman’s death, all of us remained in contact with her family, friends and medical staff providing assistance and support,” Windle said.
Holmes spokeswoman Sue Layton refused comment.
An autopsy was performed on Tyke Tuesday afternoon, but exact cause of death had not been determined, according to a spokeswoman for the medical examiners office.
Nationwide, there are 1.4 million abortions annually with less than 2 deaths per 100,000, according to figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Putting that into perspective, Windle said, there are 5 fatalities per 100,000 tonsillectomies, 111 fatalities per 100,000 Caesarean sections and 352 per 100,000 appendectomies.
“However, demonstrating the safety of legal abortion for hundreds of thousands of women does not in any way mitigate the deep sorrow we feel at the death of one woman,” she said.
Windle, who is founder and president of the Florida Abortion Council, and is a member of the National Abortion Federation’s National Abortion Standards Implementation Committee, reported Tyke’s death to the Center for Disease Control. CDC operates a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Surveillance Group from its Atlanta headquarters.
Those officials channeled investigative duties through the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, which notified the state Maternal and Child Care commissioner. That commissioner then reported to a Brevard County commissioner who called the Melbourne Police Department. Melbourne Detective Bob Carrasquillo is in charge of the investigation.
Carrasquillo declined comment pending release of the autopsy report.
The Aware Woman Clinic is a member of the National Abortion Federation, which operates a toll-free abortion clinic referral service. NAF spokeswoman Alice White of New York said Tuesday that the Melbourne facility has a good reputation. She declined further comment.
Cocoa Beach obstetrician El Kabani said he is concerned that second trimester abortions are performed at the clinic. Terminating a pregnancy in the second three months is complicated, Kabani said. “But in any medical procedure, however minor, there is a certain risk.”
Windle said only second-trimester pregnancies in the 13th and 14th weeks are aborted at the clinic.
Brevard Medical Society President Dr. Paul Popovitch said the society had taken no recent formal stand on clinic performed abortions.