Saint Louis U.Law Dean Represented Woman Who Wanted Abortion
A Catholic Jesuit law school has announced that its new interim dean will be a personal injury lawyer who in 2010 reportedly represented a mother in a “wrongful life” lawsuit, claiming doctors had failed to detect that her child had a congenital condition leading to the loss of the baby’s left foot. Had she known, the woman said she would have aborted the baby.
Following the abrupt resignation of the previous dean, Saint Louis University announced last week that alumnus Thomas Q. Keefe Jr. would be the interim dean of SLU’s School of Law. Keefe, whose email includes the words “Isuedocs,” reportedly represented Amber Gray in 2010, after federal courts declined jurisdiction over her suit filed in 2008.
Saint Louis University’s mission statement says the university is committed to ”the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.” But does that include all humanity? What message does this hiring send to students of the university and law school?
The details, according to court records, are as follows:
Gray was pregnant, and Dr. Saji Jacob was her doctor. During Gray’s second trimester, Dr. Jacob ordered an ultrasound. A sonographer performed Gray’s ultrasound and filled out an ultrasound OB worksheet, which is a form used to indicate the position and status of the fetus during the ultrasound. The sonographer’s worksheet indicated that all the fetus’ extremities were seen during the ultrasound, and that the fetus was normal. Radiologist Dr. Samuel Essma reviewed the sonographer’s work, and drafted his own report. Dr. Essma’s report concluded that “partially visualized extremities were normal” and that the ultrasound showed a “normal 22 week 3 day old fetus”.
Dr. Jacob received the worksheet and report on the same day that the ultrasound was performed, and reviewed them to make his own determination. Dr. Jacob checked the language on the sonographer’s worksheet, which he knew indicated a normal ultrasound, against the language in Dr. Essma’s report, which he also knew indicated a normal ultrasound, and determined that the ultrasound was in fact normal. He did not believe that there were any problems with the development of the extremities or that Gray needed another ultrasound.
Upon delivery, it was discovered that Gray’s child suffered from amniotic band syndrome, which is a condition that can be diagnosed during an ultrasound.
Because the doctors failed to diagnose her child, Gray was not given the opportunity to terminate her pregnancy, and she has and will continue to incur great expenses in order to treat and manage her child’s disorder.
In April of 2010, that suit was dismissed by Illinois Southern District Court, which declined federal jurisdiction. Less than a month later it was reportedly filed in Madison County Circuit Court, this time with Keefe as the attorney of record. According to The Madison Record, the lawsuit stated plainly:
“Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to discover her unborn child’s disorder, and thus denied the chance to terminate her pregnancy…Had she learned of the disorder, she would have so terminated.”
The complaint sought a judgment of more than $225,000, plus costs. That case was also dismissed, the circuit court told The Cardinal Newman Society.
Fr. Lawrence Biondi, S.J., President of SLU has a message on the university’s website, detailing some of the reasons he saw Keefe as a fit for the position:
Tom and his family have a long and impressive record with our law school. Tom, his father, four brothers, and two of his children have attended SLU’s School of Law. Tom has also supported our law school with two endowed professorships and a scholarship. He loves Saint Louis University and our law school and believes in the school’s mission and vision, now and for the future…Tom has agreed to enthusiasticallyand wholeheartedly engage in fundraising for the renovations to the Scott Law Center.
Keefe’s website touts “More Than $150 Million in Verdicts and Settlements for Our Clients.”
The previous dean resigned last week with a scathing resignation letter that called into question the integrity and honesty of the institution. “It is the ultimate irony that a Jesuit university would operate so far outside the bounds of common decency, collegiality, professionalism and integrity,” Annette E. Clark, the resigning dean, wrote in her resignation letter. “I simply cannot be part of, and I assure you I will not be complicit with, an administration that can’t be trusted to act honestly.”
Fr. Biondi said he had intended to fire Clark last week, but she resigned first. Far from being a last-minute replacement, Keefe reportedly said that the president approached him about taking the job three weeks ago.
Keefe and SLU did not respond to questions.