Miami abortion clinic owner threw newborn away.
MIAMI - An abortion clinic owner is accused of delivering a live baby during a botched procedure and then throwing the infant away.
Belkis Gonzalez, 43, of Miramar, was arrested Tuesday and charged with practicing medicine without a license and tampering with evidence, both felonies, said Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office. If found guilty, Gonzalez would face at least a year in prison and up to 15 years.
The teenage mother, Sycloria Williams, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Gonzalez knocked the infant off the chair where she had given birth, and then scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a red plastic biohazard bag, and threw it out.
The clinic's doctor, Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique, had been scheduled to perform the procedure, but Williams went into labor after being given drugs to dilate her cervix and waiting for hours for Renelique to arrive, the suit said.
The doctor has said he had been on his way to the Hialeah clinic when he was called to treat another patient who was bleeding.
Last month, the Board of Medicine revoked Renelique's license for committing medical malpractice, delegating responsibility to unlicensed personnel and failing to keep an accurate medical record.
Williams was 23 weeks pregnant when the incident happened in 2006.
Authorities were unable to definitively determine the cause of death -- and Gonzalez's role in it -- because the baby's body had decomposed by the time it was found eight days later, said Griffith, the attorney's office spokesman.
Gonzalez posted $50,000 bond and was released from jail Tuesday before a bond hearing scheduled for this morning, Griffith said.
Williams struggled with the decision to have an abortion, Tom Pennekamp, a Miami attorney representing Williams in her lawsuit against Renelique (ren-uh-LEEK') and the clinic owners. She declined an interview request made through him.
She concluded she didn't have the resources or maturity to raise a child, he said, and went to the Miramar Women's Center on July 17, 2006.
Sonograms indicated she was 23 weeks pregnant, according to the Department of Health. She met Renelique at a second clinic two days later.
Renelique gave Williams laminaria, a drug that dilates the cervix, and prescribed three other medications, according to the administrative complaint filed by the Health Department. She was told to go to yet another clinic, A Gyn Diagnostic Center in Hialeah, where the procedure would be performed the next day, on July 20, 2006.
Williams arrived in the morning and was given more medication.
The Department of Health account continues as follows: Just before noon she began to feel ill. The clinic contacted Renelique. Two hours later, he still hadn't shown up. Williams went into labor and delivered the baby.
"She came face to face with a human being," Pennekamp said. "And that changed everything."
At 23 weeks, an otherwise healthy fetus would have a slim but legitimate chance of survival. Quadruplets born at 23 weeks last year at The Nebraska Medical Center survived.
An autopsy determined Williams' baby -- she named her Shanice -- had filled her lungs with air, meaning she had been born alive, according to the Department of Health. The cause of death was listed as extreme prematurity.
The case has riled the anti-abortion community, which contends the clinic's actions constitute murder.
"The baby was just treated as a piece of garbage," said Tom Brejcha, president of The Thomas More Society, a law firm that is also representing Williams. "People all over the country are just aghast."
Even those who support abortion rights are concerned about the allegations.
"It really disturbed me," said Joanne Sterner, president of the Broward County chapter of the National Organization for Women, after reviewing the administrative complaint against Renelique. "I know that there are clinics out there like this. And I hope that we can keep (women) from going to these types of clinics."