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Botched Abortion Results in $4.1 Million Settlement

A mother and her injured son won $4.1 million in a settlement against several doctors who improperly performed an abortion in 1999.

In the settlement, Karen Sheppard, 38, got $300,000, and her son, Jo’Ell Sheppard-Mobley, now six years old, got $3.8 million. Sheppard’s attorney Bruce Cohen claimed that the doctors mishandled the abortion procedure, which caused Jo’Ell to be born with mental and physical impairments.

At the time of the pregnancy, Sheppard was afflicted with uterine fibroids, which the doctors said would not allow her to carry the fetus to term. Dr. Leslie King, an obstetrician, suggested that Sheppard seek an abortion and referred her to Dr. Ira Spector.

Spector recommended a non-surgical abortion with a drug – methotrexate -- that breaks down fetal tissue, according to court records.

The records said King administered the drug to Sheppard while she was still in her seventh week of pregnancy. When she went in for a follow-up visit, doctors told her that the sonogram showed no fetal heartbeat.

Sheppard later became concerned about the abdominal and pelvic discomfort she was experiencing and went in to a different doctor for another sonogram. The new doctor discovered she was 28 weeks pregnant.

Sheppard’s doctors discussed the possibility of a late-term-abortion to be performed out of state, but Sheppard chose to try to carry the baby to term.

Jo’Ell was born on March 3, 2000. He suffers from fetal methotrexate syndrome and has serious
congenital problems caused by the abortion drug, which was administered to her in too small a dose to ensure an abortion.

Cohen said that Jo’Ell has undergone five surgeries to repair a cleft palate and skull deformities. The lawyer also said that Jo’Ell suffers from learning disabilities and hearing impairment.

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