Bertha Pinedo Bugarin

A woman who admitted posing as an abortion doctor is facing 16 felonies, and her California empire is collapsing after a leading pro-life Christian activist organization spent more than 10 years documenting the dangerous nature of the abortion chain.

Bertha Pinedo Bugarin, 48, may spend up to 9 years in prison for operating six abortion clinics under the name Clinica Medica Para La Mujer in Southern California without a license. Her chain targeted low-income, Hispanic women by advertising on Spanish television, Operation Rescue reported. She could receive an additional seven years for her role in a Los Angeles case as well.

Her clinics have been permanently shut down.

Several former patients accused Bugarin of performing botched abortions. One woman gave birth to a premature baby after she believed the pregnancy had been terminated by Bugarin. Another woman paid $500 for an unsuccessful abortion and returned for a second operation after she remained pregnant.

“This criminal preyed on women in the Hispanic community and has now been held accountable,” San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. “By passing herself off as a doctor, she put these women’s lives in serious danger.”

On Dec. 4, Bugarin pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of aborting babies without a medical license in San Diego County. On Dec. 1, she pleaded no contest to seven similar felonies in Los Angeles Superior Court.

She previously owned an empire of 11 abortion clinics. According to the report, several abortionists who worked for her lost their licenses or were charged with medical negligence and insurance fraud. One man, Laurence Reich, was convicted of sex crimes for a second time and subsequently lost his license. Nevertheless, he continued to perform abortions for Bugarin’s clients.

In September, Bugarin’s sister, Raquel Bugarin, 50, pleaded no contest to three counts of practicing medicine without a license. She received three years of probation, was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service and pay six victims $3,270 in restitution.

Bugarin must pay $7,885 in restitution to 16 former patients before Jan. 22. Her Los Angeles sentence will be reduced to no more than five years if she makes the payments. She will be sentenced in Los Angeles Jan. 20 and in San Diego Feb. 6, 2009.

Eviction notices are posted at each of Bugarin’s former clinics. Only one has reopened as an abortion clinic under a new owner and another name.

“This is a huge victory for the pro-life movement, and a prime example of how we can use the laws that are on the books to close abortion mills forever,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said in a statement. “Bugarin acted as if she was above the law, as so many abortionists do. The prosecutors did not agree, and now Bugarin should remain behind bars for many years. Thank God!”


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