In March of 2012, Ohio resident Ariel Knights went to the Akron Women’s Medical Group to have an abortion performed.
After the operation, doctors at the clinic told Knights that the procedure went as planned with no complications. “The doctor said ‘All right, everything’s good and clear, everything went well,’” she said.
About a week later Knights became very sick and was in a tremendous amount of pain. She went to the ER, and an obstetrician gave her an internal ultrasound. After the ultrasound, the doctors had shocking news for Knights: she was still pregnant.
“The look on (the doctor's) face when he found out, he was like, ‘Oh my goodness, honey, you're still pregnant,’” Knights said. “My fiancé and I, we both were kind of in shock.”
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Knights called the Akron Women’s Clinic immediately, demanding an explanation for both why she was still pregnant and why she was not told about her failed operation. The clinic denied any wrongdoing in the operation, and told Knights she could come back to their offices if she wished. Knights had no desire to go back the Cleveland-area clinic.
Knights, who later decided to deliver her baby, has filed a malpractice lawsuit against the clinic. She is seeking at least $25,000 in compensatory damages.
Doctors from the clinic are denying any negligence, and believe the case should be dismissed for a number of reasons. D. Cheryl Atwell, the attorney representing doctors from the Akron clinic, spoke on behalf of the clinic today.
"I believe my client absolutely met the standard of care and that this case has no basis to be in litigation,” Attorney Atwell said.
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Knights’ attorney, James Gutbrod, said the clinic’s legal response was broad and that he had no further comment on it.
Knight was seeking the abortion because she had been diagnosed with the condition Uterine Didelphys. Uterine Didelphys occurs when a woman has two uteri and two cervices. She was first diagnosed with the condition when she became pregnant with her first son. He was carried in her left uterus, which doctors said was strong enough to carry a baby throughout the pregnancy. But, her daughter was being carried in her weaker right one. Doctors warned Knights that by continuing with the pregnancy she was placing both her life and the baby’s life at risk.
According to lawsuit allegations, Knights attempted to schedule another abortion with a different clinic after the Akron Clinic’s failed operation, but other clinic’s refused to become “involved in somebody else’s mistake.”
After the failed operation, Knights decided to keep the baby. Her pregnancy was not without worry, however. Knights was hospitalized four times for at least five days and had bi-weekly ultrasounds performed by a high-risk pregnancy specialist. She said she was constantly afraid that her weak uterus would falter during the pregnancy.
"I can't explain how I felt. It was just a sense of being overwhelmed, wondering what happened to the baby, wondering what's happening to me and what did (the clinic) think they did,' she said. 'It was just constant stress."
In September, Knights gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Both Knights and her daughter are healthy, and the baby is often referred to as the “miracle baby”.
In addition to compensatory payments, Knights hopes the lawsuit helps her find out what exactly was done to her body on March 3 at the Akron Clinic. Much of the $25,000 payment is being sought due to the physical and emotional pain Knights suffered as a result of the failed abortion and subsequent high-risk pregnancy.
The case is currently being handled by the Summit County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court.