Anti-abortionists argue that methods used to terminate late-term pregnancies are inhumane and should be outlawed. "We, as a nation, can't treat people that way, and those who do need to be held accountable," stated Operation Rescue president Troy Newman on www.operationrescue.org.
Indeed the outcome of the Hialeah incident might hinge on the fetus's degree of development. According to the medical examiner, the mother was between 22 and 23 weeks pregnant, within the legal 24-week limit for most abortions in Florida. If so, prosecutors might find this a clear-cut case of natural death. According to state law, a fetus becomes a viable baby at 24 weeks because the chances of survival are greater. Dr. Paul Norris, assistant professor of gynecology at the University Miami Miller School of Medicine, contends the majority of second-trimester-aborted fetuses die before leaving the hospital. "There are some 24-weekers that survive," he says, "but the odds of them suffering brain damage and deformities are phenomenal."
Before moving forward with the case, prosecutors are awaiting autopsy results, which could take several weeks, says Ed Griffith, spokesperson for the State Attorney's Office. Meanwhile, Hialeah Police are pushing for indictments. "I strongly believe charges will be filed," Deputy Chief Overton says.
Whether the West Hialeah clinic will remain shuttered is unclear. In the meantime, women seeking abortions will venture to other area clinics. Perhaps, like Maria, they will go to the East Hialeah A Gyn, which Senises oversees. Or maybe they will head to a clinic opened in May 2005 that occupies the same spot where Tammy had her abortion. Called Miramar Women's Center, it was opened by Natalie Vergara and Mario Diaz. Though the names might not be familiar, the new owners seem to have something in common with Bazile, Gonzalez, and Senises. Vergara lists the same mailing address as Bazile; Diaz uses one also used by Senises. Moreover, the Women's Center lists Bazile on its abortion clinic licensure application. The doctor is also named on the facility's most recent tax records.
But Bazile is not a suspect in the West Hialeah incident, according to Overton, who strongly believes someone should be held accountable. "We have sufficient evidence [for a] homicide," Overton says. "Whether or not the State Attorney's Office agrees with us is yet to be determined ... [but] if we don't agree with the state's findings, I will appeal it all the way up to the top."