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When Tammy met Bill, she was a freshman at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, a pretty girl of medium height with long black eyelashes and pearly white teeth. He was a handsome senior who played basketball. The pair began dating, and a couple of years later, son Robert was born. When Tammy turned nineteen, they got hitched and talked about raising a large family, unaware that a man posing as a doctor would single-handedly cripple that dream.
The newlyweds, whose names have been changed to protect their privacy, rented a modest apartment in Hollywood and settled into family life. "There were definitely some hard times, but we were happy," recalls Tammy, her almond-shape brown eyes glistening. Eight years later, the trio celebrated the arrival of five-pound two-ounce Tanyiah.
At the mention of her daughter, the young mother's face lights up. "She's a fairy princess," she says, beaming a megawatt smile. "That's what her name means."
Then age 27, Tammy spent several months caring for the two kids and working full-time as a supervisor at a Fort Lauderdale Airport gift shop. On Saturday, October 9, 2004, she took a pregnancy test, and two purple lines appeared. She was shocked to learn she was expecting again so soon. Fearful another child would prove too stressful, she convinced a reluctant Bill they should terminate the pregnancy.
"It was not an easy choice to make, but my daughter was only a few months old," she says softly, batting back emotion. "I wouldn't have been able to cope."
Four days later, shortly before 9:00 a.m., Tammy pulled her blue 1997 Mercury Sable into the parking lot at 6161 Miramar Pkwy. It was an abortion clinic A Gyn of Miramar she had found in the yellow pages. She walked toward the pale-color building; entered the small, stark waiting room; and approached the taller of two women. Twenty-eight-year-old Miami resident Joselin Collado asked Tammy to sign some consent forms and pay.
So Tammy handed over $225 in cash, which Collado shoved into her pocket. The price for abortions at A Gyn, Tammy knew, ranged from $225 to $1100 for up to 22 weeks gestation. (Twenty-four weeks is the legal limit for most abortions in Florida, and Tammy was approximately seven weeks along.) Collado then escorted her to a room in the rear of the facility for an ultrasound. "I was pregnant with twins," Tammy shrieks, "and when I realized I was having two babies, I knew I was doing the right thing. One would have been hard enough, but two?"
Tammy would endure two procedures at the clinic. The night following the second one (two weeks after the first), she was in so much pain she could barely stand. "I was so scared," she says. "I just knew something was really wrong, and I started to think that maybe this was my punishment from God." She staggered into the bathroom. "I was leaning over the sink, holding onto the front with both hands, when I heard my husband say, 'Oh my God.'"
In a matter of seconds, her knee-length shorts had turned from a pale khaki color to fire-engine red. Glancing down, she watched in terrified silence as a steady stream of blood dripped from her vagina, down her bare calves, and onto the tile floor.
It would later turn out that her abortion at A Gyn was badly botched twice. The doctor who had performed the procedures had no license. One of the nurses, Collado, was actually a dental assistant. The other, Miami Beach resident Adieren Rojas, had been hired as a janitor.
Indeed Tammy is not the only woman to tell of intrigue and incompetence at two Miami-Dade and Broward County abortion clinics linked to three people: Frantz Bazile, Belkis Gonzalez, and Siomara Senises. In December 2004, police raided and closed the facility where Tammy's abortion was performed; Senises was the president and Gonzalez the vice president. Another clinic in Hialeah linked to the two women and Bazile was also shut down this past July after an eighteen-year-old gave birth to what police say was a live 23-week-old fetus. Officers allege the fetus was then killed and stashed on the roof. A third clinic, overseen by Senises, continues to function and bustles with patrons.
While recent public debate has centered on the question of whether abortion should be banned by the U.S. Supreme Court, less has been said of the potential dangers that low-income or uninsured women like Tammy face at centers such as A Gyn. "I hope no other women have to go through what I did," she says. "I had a terrible experience. I just want to put it behind me already."
Relatively little is known about 40-year-old Gonzalez and 42-year-old Senises, the two women who founded the A Gyn clinics. Gregory Iamunno and Regina DeMoraes-Millan, lawyers for Gonzalez and Senises respectively, declined to comment. Public records offer no more information than the dates the women incorporated the facilities.
But numerous documents pertaining to a pair of physicians linked to them Bazile and 46-year-old Robelto Osborne, whom Tammy contends botched her abortion offer insight into the facilities and the people who apparently worked there. (Bazile claims he isn't connected to the clinics, though his name appears on at least three public records related to the facilities.)