Abortion’s Underside
Kermit Gosnell is not the only seedy backroom abortionist operating in the age of Roe v. Wade.


Jillian Kay Melchior

Renelique told Williams to meet him at 9 a.m. the next day at A Gyn Diagnostic Center in Hialeah for observation. The abortion itself was scheduled for 2 p.m.39

Williams showed up the next morning as scheduled. Renelique did not. The young woman began to feel very ill. According to the complaint later filed by Williams’s attorney, she was given medicine, including prescription medication dispensed by an unlicensed worker and picked up “at one of the other [related] clinics.” Williams claims the staff had her change into a robe and told her to rest, informing her the doctor would arrive soon.40

Renelique still didn’t show. Williams, who had come to the clinic to end her pregnancy, ended up delivering a live baby around 2 p.m. after acute pain. She later told police detectives that the infant was “moving and making noises for approximately five minutes.”41 The complaint filed by her attorney reports that “the staff began screaming, and pandemonium ensued. Sycloria watched in horror and shock as her baby writhed with her chest rising and falling as she breathed.”42

The complaint continues: “Belkis Gonzalez came running into the room, picked up a large pair of orange shears, and cut the umbilical cord,” an assertion echoed in a Florida Department of Health finding of facts.43 An expert in neonatal and perinatal medicine later told Hialeah police detectives that severing the umbilical cord without clamping it, as Gonzalez allegedly did, would cause the baby to “have exsanguinated within two minutes, and the lack of blood flow to the brain would cause severe debilitation and result in neurological damage.”44

According to the Department of Health findings of fact, “Ms. Gonzalez then proceeded to place the baby and all of its remains in a plastic bag. She then closed the bag and placed it in a trashcan.”45

Williams’s complaint claims that the staff “did not call 911 or seek any medical or neonatal assistance of any kind for either the mother or the baby at any time.” According to the complaint, Dr. Renelique arrived shortly after the birth, and “Sycloria could overhear Belkis Gonzalez and the doctor screaming at each other about what had transpired and the fact that the doctor had not been present at the Hialeah clinic. The doctor instructed Belkis Gonzalez to start an IV on Sycloria. Belkis Gonzalez attempted to place an IV but was unable to hold her hands steady,”46 an occurrence also referred to in the Department of Health’s finding of facts.47 Williams’s complaint says Renelique then sedated her and cleaned her up; she “was sent home still in complete shock.”48

Soon after, police received an anonymous tip that a baby had been born alive and quickly killed at the Hialeah clinic. Investigators searched the clinic three times before they found the baby, discovering unsanitary conditions in the process. They found blood smeared on the recliner in the recovery room where Williams had given birth.49 And Ralph Gracia, a homicide detective who helped hunt for the body, tells me that the clinic “had boxes with all the [aborted fetuses] in the recovery room sitting there, resting behind the chairs where the patients would sit after their abortion. In some of them, I actually saw some small flies just hovering around the boxes.” The smell was terrible, he adds. He had to sort through each of the biomedical bags, searching among the aborted fetuses for the body of the baby who had been born alive.50

On July 21, police interviewed Gonzalez about what had happened the day before. Police records state that “she said only that she and Dr. [Renelique] were in the room with the patient when the abortion was performed. She said the doctor used pliers and suction which broke the fetus apart and [it] came out in pieces. The pieces were placed inside red ‘bio-medical’ bags and set for disposal. She denied that the patient gave birth on the recliners in the waiting room and restated that the fetus came out in pieces not alive, moving and crying.”51

According to the Florida Department of Health’s finding of facts, Renelique first said that he had begun the abortion process around 2:20 p.m., and that the “fetal sac, placenta, large clots and umbilical cord were removed together as a block. Dr. Renelique stated he thought the fetus was inside the sac. Also according to Dr. Renelique, upon further examination, he could not find the fetus. . . . Dr. Renelique claims he was then informed by staff members that the fetus had already been delivered.” Yet the finding of facts also states that “Renelique prepared a false medical record when he knew what had actually happened.”52

Contrary to what Gonzalez had told them, the police found the body on July 28, 2006, eight days after the baby had died: It was wholly intact, with ten fingers, ten toes, and no apparent abnormalities, though severely decomposed.53

When I contacted Renelique for an interview, he seemed to change his story, saying, “It is simple: I was not there.”54 He declined to give any further comments until he had consulted with a lawyer, and by time of publication, he had not called back or responded to further queries.

Florida issued an emergency restriction of Renelique’s license in 2007. As the Board of Medicine questioned him, an obstetrician-gynecologist showed him a spear-like medical instrument and several pairs of forceps, asking him if he owned that equipment. Renelique answered that he did. “For the record,” the gynecologist later said, “these are from my antique collection. We don’t use these in terminations.” It’s unclear whether Renelique had actually used instruments of these types or just did not recognize the equipment as inappropriate. According to the Associated Press, Renelique later reexamined the tools and “said he had never seen or used the spear in his life.”55