Questions Still Linger Five Years After Tonya Reaves Was Killed By Abortion

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Janet Morana Executive Director, Priests For Life
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Tonya Reaves was 24 years old and engaged to be married when she went for a second-trimester abortion at a Planned Parenthood at 18 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Her son, Alvin Jones, had just celebrated his first birthday. Why she felt she had no other choice than to end this child’s life by abortion, and why she waited so long, remain unanswered questions.

She paid $459 for an abortion that included sedation, and the procedure began just before 1 p.m. Abortionist Mandy Gittler and her deadly instruments entered Tonya’s womb a total of three times because of unexpected bleeding after the first procedure. At about 4:30 p.m., Tonya was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where, at 5:30 p.m., she had to undergo yet another abortion because placental tissue had been left behind after the three procedures Gittler performed.

Eventually, a uterine perforation was discovered. At 10:12 p.m., she was taken back into surgery, where an uncontrollable bleed was discovered.

Tonya Reaves was pronounced dead in the operating room at 11:20 p.m., July 20, 2012. Five years ago today.

Alvin just celebrated his sixth birthday, without his mother. Where Tonya’s life would have taken her in these five years, no one can know. But when Priests for Life’s communication director Tweeted at Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards to note that Tonya and Cree Erwin – another Planned Parenthood victim killed a year ago – would be alive today if they had stayed away from the nation’s largest abortion business, a particularly vile Twitter user with the handle @SweetCarCor1 Tweeted back that maybe Tonya and Cree would have been hit by a bus.

This kind of defend-Planned-Parenthood-at-all-cost thinking also was seen in the meager coverage given Tonya’s death. The Huffington Post reported that her death had been ruled accidental, and helpfully repeated something originally noted by the Chicago Sun Times, that her death was “brought on by complications that affect less than 0.3 percent of abortion patients.” (I couldn’t find anything at all about Tonya in the Sun Times archive. Why would they have removed those stories? Strange.)

ABC News headlined its July 24 story with the snarky sounding “Chicago Woman’s Family Lawyers Up After Abortion-Related Death.” The report incorrectly says she was transported to the hospital at 11 a.m.

According to a deposition given by Gittler following Tonya’s death, the young woman was conscious and talking before being transferred to the hospital. She indicated she didn’t want to go, and was worried about her car parked in the lot of a store called Treasure Island.

The location of that parked car is just one of several strange things uncovered by pro-life activists after Tonya’s death.

For instance, Operation Rescue released a copy of the autopsy report that concluded:

“OPINION: The cause of death of this 24-year-old Black female, TONYA REAVES, is due to hemorrhage resulting from cervical dilation and evacuation due to an intrauterine pregnancy.


The report was just one page long and did not mention Planned Parenthood at all, yet later, the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal organization, discovered the autopsy report was actually seven pages and did indeed mention that the abortion was performed at Planned Parenthood.

Over at the Pro-Life Action League, it was discovered that the Planned Parenthood facility where Tonya went for the abortion did not perform surgical abortions, at least according to its website at the time (since updated). But in reading about Gittler’s deposition and discovering that Tonya was worried about her car in the Treasure Island lot, the League reported that the S. Michigan Avenue facility is not located anywhere near Treasure Island, but another Planned Parenthood mill is. That one is at 1200 N. LaSalle Street.

Did Planned Parenthood lie about where the abortion took place, and if so, why?

Digging further, the League discovered that neither Planned Parenthood had placed a call to 911 that day. And in Gittler’s own deposition, she notes that Caroline Hoke, the Planned Parenthood medical director she spoke to before Tonya was transferred to the hospital, told her she was not obligated to send her. That Gittler did so indicates the situation was more severe than the abortionist described in her deposition.

The Thomas More Society, on behalf of the Pro-Life Action League, filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, urging an investigation into Tonya’s death and its many unanswered questions.

No investigation was ever undertaken.

In between the deaths of Tonya Reaves and Cree Erwin, the American public has learned – and chosen to ignore – much about Planned Parenthood, including: Abortionists will alter the method of a late-term abortion to better procure undamaged organs that can then be harvested and sold; that when a baby is born alive after abortion, it’s up to the mother and the abortionist how to proceed, despite the fact that a federal law calls for the baby to be given emergency treatment; that killing a baby late in a pregnancy requires strong biceps, and that Planned Parenthood’s often-repeated entreaty that abortion constitutes only 3 percent of its services has been unmasked as a lie.

Why is this organization able to flout laws the way it does? Why does the medical community cover up its mistakes? Why do the mainstream media fail to report in any meaningful way on the organization’s abuses and worse, work so hard to bolster its reputation?

Most importantly, why does this organization get $500 million of our tax dollars every year?

When he turns 18, Alvin Jones, Tonya’s surviving son, will receive a $2 million settlement from Planned Parenthood and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Maybe that will seem like a lot to a boy who grew up without a mother in Chicago but it shouldn’t. You and I pay that much to Planned Parenthood every two days.

Janet Morana is executive director of Priests for Life.