By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
ù A 1989 suit against a doctor at the A-Z Women's Center was dismissed a little more than a year after it was filed. Again, no money was paid to Jakubczyk's client.
ù A 1991 action against a different doctor at A-Z Women's Center was dismissed about a year after it was filed. No money was paid. The judge's comment upon dismissal: "Plaintiffs have failed to show this court either good cause or due diligence in prosecuting these claims." (The doctor in that case was issued an advisory letter of concern from the state Board of Medical Examiners.)
There are two other cases in which Jakubczyk participated that involve reproductive care. Both suits were against doctors affiliated with a biomedical firm, and both involved amniocentesis, a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the womb of a pregnant woman to obtain fluid for analysis.
Jakubczyk said the cases belong in a different category than abortion malpractice. And the suits don't involve abortion; they involve the death of fetuses as a result of a procedure that is not abortion.
Both cases were dismissed before trial.
Several years before Finkel's clinic was targeted by the antiabortion crowd, another abortion facility, the Family Planning Institute, suffered through demonstrations by pro-life groups with which Jakubczyk was affiliated. FPI also had to pay to get an injunction to limit those illegal activities. That injunction names Jakubczyk.
I'll let Constance Bennett, FPI's executive director from 1984 to 1992, tell you about the demonstrations.
It was 1984 when Bennett came on the job, and, she says, "because I didn't know Mr. Jakubczyk, I tried to be nice."
Starting in April of that year, though, pickets started showing up every three or four weeks. They surrounded cars, she says. They were dressed in costumes. They had a band playing. They screamed at patients.
Bennett says she got letters and phone calls from people threatening to blow up the clinic. There were at least five such threats.
Her dog was killed. Windows at her home were broken. The clinic's roof was chopped open--apparently by hatchet--"multiple times," she says. The clinic's doors were Super-glued shut "at least ten times," Bennett says.
"I tell you what: They did every possible thing I could think of. They were so creative in trying to get us closed down," Bennett says.
The demonstrations resulted in arrests. Jakubczyk represented many of the demonstrators in court. Bennett says, "I was in court one year at least 30 percent of my time, because I kept getting subpoenaed by John Jakubczyk."
It cost FPI thousands of dollars to get its injunction. Bennett remembers the clinic spending more than $30,000 one year in legal fees.
"It was like being under siege in America," Bennett says. "I never had problems with picketers and people on the sidewalks, but this was much more than that. It was an incredible experience."
Since FPI won its injunction against Jakubczyk, he has filed malpractice lawsuits against two doctors working at the clinic. One of the cases involves his major abortion malpractice victory, the $6,000 settlement.
The other suit is pending.
The antiabortion movement has evolved since the colorful days of rescues and mass arrests. Because of FACE--the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law, which makes it a federal crime to restrict access to abortions, and carries a prison sentence for first offenses--pro-life groups are looking for new ways to fight the "holocaust" of abortion.
Abortion malpractice litigation is one of those methods.
I'm not saying that John Jakubczyk is using marginal malpractice lawsuits as a political tool against abortion providers. I can't get inside Jakubczyk's head to prove whether that's true, and even if I could, I'm not sure that inside John Jakubczyk's mind is anywhere I'd ever want to be.
No, I've laid out some facts about Mr. Jakubczyk's activities not to prove that he's doing anything illegitimate. I laid out those facts to show that even if he were acting entirely from political motives, so long as he did not announce that from the rooftops, his legal work would be perfectly acceptable.
As long as his abortion malpractice cases met the minimum standard for filing, he could file until the cows came home, even if none of the cases had an ice cube's chance in hell of succeeding.
Remember Mark Crutcher? He's the president of Life Dynamics, the Texas group that's helping attorneys across the country who want to file abortion malpractice cases. He vehemently opposes the right to choose.
His group is providing abortion malpractice attorneys with television commercials to attract clients. The attorneys only have to pay for the voice-over part of the ad, and maybe some graphics changes.
Life Dynamics runs a three-day seminar that teaches alleged malpractice victims how to testify effectively.
Crutcher claims his group has about 600 attorneys now associated with it. There are 500 or so physicians who have agreed to provide expert review of abortion malpractice cases for Life Dynamics, he says. Obviously, when doctors do wrong, there should be a remedy in court for the victims.
But just as obviously, the legal system needs to provide a better remedy for other victims--the victims of unwarranted litigation filed by overeager attorneys.
The Constitution protects the right to choose. The legal system should protect it, too.
Abortion doctors and clinics shouldn't have to suffer the legal equivalents of Super-glued locks and hatcheted roofs just because they provide health care that offends a virulent minority of society.