PEORIA, Ill. — A lawsuit filed against UnityPoint Health in Peoria alleges hospital officials pressured a woman into getting an abortion after medical staff made an error that endangered her unborn baby's health.
After being admitted for an unrelated medical matter in 2017, tests revealed Reneizha Morris was seven weeks pregnant — unbeknownst to her. As a mother of two boys, she says she was happy and hoping for a girl. But that joy was brief.
During her hospital stay, Morris was mistakenly given the drug methotrexate. Morris' attorney Thomas Mulroy III says the drug causes "severe birth defects."
"They knew they did something wrong and there is no way to reverse it at all," Morris said Thursday.
According to the lawsuit just filed against the hospital, after learning about the drug mishap, doctors and administrators pressured Morris into having an abortion.
Mulroy said he believes hospital staff doubled down on their mistake after coldly crunching numbers based on previous lawsuit payoffs.
"The monetary awards are typically greater when the embryo exposed to methotrexate lives and requires continuous medical care, as compared to when the fetus dies in utero or shortly after birth," Mulroy said. "We believe at some point in the administration knew that if this baby survived, the cost of the hospital would've been astronomical."
Morris says the hospital's legal risk manager was present during several of her meetings with doctors and administrators, and she was under duress when she agreed to get an abortion. She says the hospital gave her $2,000 as part of the agreement.
"The doctor in Chicago still didn't even know how I still had the fetus inside of me so long after being given the drug," Morris said.
Afterwards, Mulroy believes the hospital deleted or omitted damaging records about the case.
Morris says she agonizes over that decision to abort for her and her unborn child.
"That was an innocent child that should not have had to happen at all," Morris said.
The hospital did not reply to requests for comment as of Thursday evening.