An explosive article on the front page of today’s Norfolk Virginian Pilot rips the cover off a Virginia Beach abortion center owned by a New Jersey doctor under investigation for a host of questionable activities. The article also reveals that doctors associated with the clinic also are on staff at Planned Parenthood centers in Virginia. The story is more evidence of the need for abortion center regulation in Virginia. The Family Foundation has informed legislators, media and the public about Dr. Steven Brigham's ties to Virginia for some time now, and reminded lawmakers last month during the General Assembly debate over abortion center regulations, which eventually passed on a historic 21-20 Senate vote. Brigham lost his license to practice medicine in New Jersey recently for beginning second and third trimester abortions in that state and then transporting the patients to his Maryland facility to complete the procedure, but his history of unethical behavior dates back at least to the early-90s.

According to NJ.com:

On Aug. 13 [2010], three women seeking second-trimester abortions followed physician Steven Brigham from his Camden County office to a Maryland clinic he owns, according to claims by the attorney general’s office. They were wracked with contractions as they traveled because Brigham had given them labor-inducing drugs a day or two earlier, the state said. In Maryland, the women met another doctor, who performed their procedures. One of the women, 18, needed emergency surgery at a hospital to treat a lacerated bowel and uterus.

Family Foundation research found that Brigham's Virginia abortion centers (Virginia Beach and Fairfax) advertised similar options on its websites, stating that they would begin the procedure in the Virginia clinics and then transport the patients to other states "for the completion of the procedure." Virginia requires second and third trimester abortions to be done in hospitals for the health and safety of the women involved.

Another op-ed on abortion center regulations by Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb, in Tuesday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, tells some of the story. She also published an op-ed on this issue in the Roanoke Times a few days earlier.

Today's Pilot article goes deeper, connecting doctors who worked at Brigham's Virginia Beach facilities with Planned Parenthood. Our research found that one, Dr. David Peters, lists his business address as one of Planned Parenthood's Richmond abortion centers. In the New Jersey incident, Planned Parenthood attempted to distance itself from Brigham. A spokesperson said it "had nothing to do with" Brigham. In Virginia, nothing could be further from the truth.

Peters defends the Brigham clinic in today's article, even denying that the clinic does what its website advertises. He does admit, however, that instead of referring women to a hospital for a second or third trimester abortion, as required by law for safety reasons, Brigham's abortion centers refer them to other states to avoid hospitals. Either way, it's clear that the health and safety of patients isn't paramount.

Another doctor the article named as working for Brigham in Virginia has a long history of restrictions on, and suspensions of, his license to practice medicine in Virginia, yet presently holds a current and active Virginia license. The article only touches on the mistakes made by Dr. Craig Cropp, but our research found at least 22 separate incidents since 1998 where he put the life of patients in jeopardy, from breaking instruments and losing pieces inside a woman’s abdominal cavity, to misdiagnosing ectopic pregnancies, to perforating a woman’s uterus (and blaming that one on his bifocals). Incredibly, Dr. Cropp still is licensed to practice medicine here and splits his time between Brigham's two Virginia abortion centers.

Unfortunately, the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot revoke Dr. Brigham's license to practice medicine in Virginia because he doesn't have a medical license in Virginia. In fact, without the New Jersey story and subsequent research by The Family Foundation, it is unlikely anyone would know about Dr. Brigham's Virginia abortion centers because the Commonwealth does not currently regulate or inspect abortion centers. Today's Virginian-Pilot article is the first investigative piece in the Virginia media since the New Jersey story broke in the fall.

The abortion industry claims abortion is a safe procedure in no need of oversight. Today's story about Dr. Brigham and his abortion centers is just one example of why abortion center safety regulations are desperately needed in Virginia. While Planned Parenthood, NARAL and their allies in the legislature claimed during debate that their centers are safe, they knew that Dr. Brigham was operating in Virginia. Your head has to be buried pretty deep in the sand to believe anything Planned Parenthood has to say about the safety of abortion after today’s shocking article.