Missing Clues

Avedon is right — this story doesn’t add up.

When the dispatcher called, Stephanie Adamson knew this might be the run she had feared. But it wasn’t until her ambulance arrived at the hospital and she saw the words “elective abortion” on the patient’s chart that she knew she had to make a choice.

“I just got a sick feeling in my stomach,” said Adamson, an emergency medical technician from Channahon, Ill.

Adamson called her boss to say she could not transport the patient to the other hospital where the procedure was scheduled.

“I just knew I couldn’t do it. I’ve never been for abortion — I’ve always been against it,” Adamson said. “I was brought up in a Christian home and always believed life was precious.”

Adamson’s supervisor fired her on the spot and dispatched another ambulance to transfer the distraught young patient.

Adamson sued the ambulance company, charging religious discrimination. But Avedon is right — who calls an ambulance just for an elective abortion? There’s got to be more to this story that Adamson isn’t admitting. Such as, what sort of medical emergency required the patient to go to a hospital by ambulance to terminate her pregnancy?

Washington Post reporter Rob Stein must’ve been asleep when he wrote this. Alarm bells should have gone off in his head that he’d better call the ambulance company and get its side of the story. Is Anderson lying when she says the patient’s chart said elective abortion? Did the chart in fact say therapeutic abortion, and Anderson either misread it or doesn’t know the difference between elective and therapeutic? Did the person who initiated the chart write the word elective by mistake? Had the patient already undergone an elective abortion but was having complications that required emergency medical treatment? If in fact the young woman was having no medical problems and simply wanted an elective abortion, who did the ambulance company expect to bill for the ambulance ride, since no insurance company I’ve ever heard of would have paid such a bill? And why didn’t she just take a cab?

I suspect Adamson just saw the word abortion on the chart and refused to transport the patient, no matter what the patient’s emergency was. In which case the ambulance company was correct to fire her.

Update: Avedon has more of the story. The patient was in severe pain, and the ambulance company fired Adamson for putting the patient in danger.

27 thoughts on “Missing Clues

  1. Eh, she deserves to be fired. I’m with you, I think there’s a lot more to this story … but even if it was purely “elective abortion”… It is not up to the ambulance driver/med tech to make a decision about whether or not a patient actually needs an ambulance ride to a hospital, it’s their job just to transport them, let the doctors worry about care beyond that … and by refusing to transport this woman, she was effectively making the decision that the woman didn’t REALLY need an ambulance ride to a hospital. She doesn’t have the knowledge or the authroity to do that. So, keep her out of any ambulance service *I* may have to bet my life on someday…


  2. And it was apparently from one HOSPITAL to another!! That is not an “elective” abortion. That is something that has gone very wrong that the first hospital could not handle. Either that, or the first hospital also would not deal with an emergency abortion and wanted to palm it off to another facility.

  3. Reading the article just got me more pissed off … talking about “religious health care providers” who have such a terrible time actually providing health care … sorry, but if you just can’t bring yourself to actually do your job for religious reasons (or WHATEVER reason) you’re in the wrong damn profession.

    There is legitimate room for ethical stands in the greyer areas of medicine … like whether or not to “pull the plug” on a brain-dead patient … but those grey areas are pretty small, and not often legitimately encountered, IMO.


  4. Maybe the chart said “spontaneous abortion” (i.e., miscarriage), and she thought it was just some patient saying, “Hey, what the hell–I think I’ll call an ambulance and go get my pregnancy terminated. It’ll be fun!”

  5. Very fishy. Transport by ambulance? That’s quite expensive, and you’re right maha, insurance would kick the charge out as unnecessary and unreasonable, unless an emergency medical situation existed. An “elective” abortion does not meet that criterion.

    So, yeah, the EMT is creepy and a dumbass, but I’d expect more from the reporter of this story. No questions answered, and a dozen new ones raised.

  6. I have always wondered what would happen if medical folks were allowed to deny care on religious grounds and a pharmacist decided to convert to Christian Science. “Sorry, I’m not allowed to give you any drugs. But I’ll pray for you….”

  7. Lynne — the case is still being litigated, apparently, and the ambulance company isn’t talking to the press. This report says the patient was in “severe abdominal pain,” and the EMT had been asked to take her from Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago to an abortion clinic. One suspects the abortion was a remedy for the severe abdominal pain, but further googling didn’t turn up more detail.

  8. I let a friend of mine borrow my car to take his wife to have an abortion once…I was told as my friend pulled up someone wrote down my plate number, a lady THREW her body onto the hood of my car and yelled at my friends wife as her hands pounded the windshield.. they stood in front of the car yelling”Murderer, are you going to run us over and kill us too”?…My friend opened the window and told them they were about to find out….
    My friends wife HAD to have the abortion at the order of her doctor when he found several tumors that were cancerous.She has survived her cancer over 10 years now, but had she not started treatment only days after her abortion she would have died.Having the abortion broke her heart… the way the people acted only made it worse.
    When they got out of the car people tried to push her body away from the door..my friend described trying to get his wife into the doctor as being like trying to get past a pro football team..with people yelling and shoving and telling my friend”put your hands on me and you will be in jail instead of having an abortion”, my friends wife in tears…..
    While they were in the clinic the “christians” broke out my back window broke the side window, and cracked the winshield.My friends wife sat in the remaining glass on her way home from the abortion because they were mobbed when they left the clinic and were afraid to take the time to brush all of the glass out…and they were followed all the way back to their home by two car loads of people..
    I am a peaceful person…..but let me tell you, had I been with them that day SOMEONE would have needed an ambulance, if ya know what I mean………..
    Perhaps that is the best way to get to the abortion clinic if you can’t afford to have your care destroyed…..
    I forgot the best part…..The christians put a real nice bumper sticker on my car that said “I killed my baby”….ironic since the owner of the car has never been with child(me)….
    But I can’t wait to hear the rest of this story…I am glad the driver was fired.

  9. “Sorry, I’m not allowed to give you any drugs. But I’ll pray for you….”

    “. . .and you can always buy this hair cream–it might make you feel better about yourself.”

  10. i have a customer who is a born again. she really is obnoxious about god. she firmly believes, as a christian, we persecute her. i questioned her about details of persecution, she said no she was not stopped from going to her church, she was not physically abused by anyone due to her beliefs, no abuse that REAL christians in history have endured. her persecution involved the availability of abortion, divorce, gay marriage etc. i asked her if anyone ever forced her to have any of the above and when she said no, i explained to her that would be persecution. she said because these things were allowed, that was persecution of her beliefs. i was giving her a pedicure, explained because her feet were ugly and only beautiful feet should exist, she would have to get an amputation. these were my beliefs and she is persecuting me. she is not my customer anymore . could not stand to hear this dribble every 3 weeks anymore. their logic is the same.

  11. Amazing stories, mamameow and justme. Thanks for sharing them, I’m going to remember your “turnabout”, mamameow for answering the nutcases I run into. This country is becoming dumber by the minute.

    As for the reporter, Rob Stein, presumably he’s had journalistic training which should’ve led him to ask the pertinent questions, but I also wonder if his “training” as a man caused him to overlook some of the key issues. I believe women are much more tuned into the nuances of the abortion issue than men are.

    I’m not justifying what happened, and I think his journalistic credentials should be questioned in light of this story, but I can allow for some of it, maybe just a tiny bit of it, simply because men aren’t that aware of all the nuances. They should’ve sent a female reporter in his stead.

  12. Pingback: Property of a Lady » ‘Conscience’ and the Washington Post

  13. Maha, as disturbing as this is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg of how bad the whole story is. It’s just one waaaahmbulance ride after another with whiny-ass fundamentalists upset because their jobs don’t allow them to control other peoples’ ‘immoral’ behavior. There isn’t a single quote for ‘balance’–not one woman who was denied emergency contraception, not one healthcare professional who believes treating the public is more important than any individual’s shoddy prejudices. The whole thing is just one long one-sided sob story about poor fundamentalists ‘struggling’ with their ‘consciences’–as if conscience meant controlling what other people do, instead of being a check on what one does oneself.

  14. The EMT deserved to get canned for refusing to transport a patient for an elective abortion.

    On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that a patient was being transferred to another hospital by ambulance for an elective abortion. I trained as an EMT, but I never worked in the profession, because a huge percentage of the caseload of most private ambulance services is simply ferrying patients between hospitals, or between hospitals and nursing homes, or hospitals and group homes.

    The EMT could be lying, but it’s entirely possible that the patient was admitted for something completely different, but needed to be transported in order to have an abortion during her hospital stay. For example, she may have been a psychiatric inpatient who elected to terminate a pregnancy.

  15. If anyone is curious (and has a PACER login), the USDC Court online docket can be accessed here. (I have a login, but I’m not working on any cases in that district, so I don’t think I could get away with looking it up on the company dime.) The Complaint and Answer should have some info; there’ll be more in the briefing on dispositive motions, if any have been filed.

  16. If the court rules for the EMT, I swear, I’m going to start my own one-woman Church of WTF Is Wrong With You? My form of worship will involve kicking in the shins anyone I catch exiting a vehicle sporting a “Bush Cheney 04” bumper sticker.

  17. justme, were the assaults and vandalism outside the clinic reported to the police?

  18. No joan,, my friend and his wife just wanted to go home after the abortion was complete.They had no desire to stay around in the situation of being yelled at as they left the clinic. As I mentioned the wife of my friend had other health problems .. she was so sick all she wanted was to go home. I never drove back to file a report myself either. My friend and his wife had 2 kids at home who I ended up staying with for a day or so after..My friend replaced the glass in the car, despite my plea to just let my insurance cover it.
    I was never worried at all about the damage to the car, all I cared about at the time was helping a good friend.I didn’t expect any justice from the police …who lets just say are less then compassionate about having to take time out of their day to defend someone they consider a lowlife bimbo on her third abortion this week…but what do you expect from Kansas?
    The state dismisses any claim brought to the courts that tries to stop such outbursts outside abortion clinics. Authorities KNOW what goes on outside those clinics and everytime they have ruled in favor of letting it continue… and kansas is nice compared to South Dakota..

  19. I wonder if the patient had been taken to or was a patient at the first hospital and had problems. It was determined that an abortion needed to be performed, and some idiot medical worker wrote down on the forms “elective abortion” because they weren’t happy about it. That “professional” may have even known that the ambulance transport person was pro-life.

    There’s definitely something wrong with this story. It probably was a medical necessity, the patient had to be transferred for the procedure, and somebody thought they’d do “the right thing” and try and stop it.

    I’ll be interested to see what else comes out about this.

  20. Yeah, I was right. Turns out she was having abdominal pain and the EMT was fired for endangering a patient who ended up in the ER as a result of the delay.

  21. she said because these things were allowed, that was persecution of her beliefs.

    that in a nutshell is the problem i have w/fundies. their unyielding belief that anyone else believing anything else somehow impedes upon them and their beliefs.

  22. Yeah, we need more information, but since Mt. Sinai is a private hospital, and under Illinois law, private hospitals may decline to provide therapeutic abortions, it probably has a protocol in place for transferring patients to area providers, possibly one that includes ambulance service on a contract basis.

    I suspect that if Adamson had dithered around even longer, the patient’s condition would have deteriorated and she’d have been admitted to Mt. Sinai as an emergency.

    Maybe the patient already had a abortion scheduled, but then began experiencing acute pain and couldn’t wait for the appointment. Maybe it was an ectopic pregnancy. I hope the patient’s future fertility wasn’t jeopardized by the delay.

    Adamson should be ashamed of herself. Instead, she’s a 35 year-old post-born-fetal hero.

  23. In order to better understand the situation, you should first get the full story!!! You are right, there are things missing from the story.. how about the fact that the company wanted to get paid for a call so they called it out as abdominal pain. They were sending her out to an abortion clinic at Strogetr Hospital to have an elective abortion. If the patient was in distress or this was a medical emergency, don’t you think she was in better hands staying at mt. sinai hospital under the care of doctors and RNs rather that being put under the care of an EMT basic which can only provide oxygen, and take vitals? Basics can not administer any form of narcotics, we can not diagnose! Doctors however can. An EMT Basic is no more higher up the scale as a CNA. Anyway, I was thinking, maybe you should get all the facts! and for the record, I’m not 35 either. I was born in October of 73. You do the math….. And no, this wasn’t about ME. this was about the life of an innocent child that had absolutely no control over his destiny. Someone had to stand up for this little baby. If not me, then who?

  24. Ms. Adamson, if I had been your supervisor I would have fired your ass faster than you can say “whackjob.” It’s not your place to diagnose patients or make decisions about their treatment. If you think you must take it on yourself to make “moral” (in your view, not mine) judgments about who you will or will not transport, then you need to be in a different line of work where you can’t harm anyone.

    Take your sick, twisted ideas about “morality” elsewhere, thank you. I don’t want them cluttering up my web site.

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