A New York City-based physician is facing a second-degree manslaughter charge after a 30-year-old woman died in the wake of obtaining an abortion at his practice in July.
Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced Tuesday that a grand jury has indicted Dr. Robert Rho of Liberty Women’s Health Care of Queens.
Brown said Rho lacerated the victim’s cervix, perforated her uterine wall, and disrupted her uterine artery during a surgical abortion procedure on July 9.
Following the incident, Rho failed to provide “appropriate and timely medical attention,” Brown said.
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New York City officials said the woman, Jamie Lee Morales of Buffalo, New York, was bleeding profusely and underwent a second procedure at the health facility. She was then allegedly permitted to leave. After later collapsing, showing signs of being disoriented and becoming unresponsive, she was transported to a Bronx hospital, where medical personnel gave her six units of blood before she was pronounced dead.
The procedure was a second-trimester abortion, according to the New York Daily News.
Abortion care is an exceedingly safe procedure. The Guttmacher Institute, citing Obstetrics & Gynecology medical journal data from 2015, noted that the risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, “from 0.3 for every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 per 100,000 at 18 weeks or later.”
A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, according to Guttmacher.
Rho could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of recklessly causing Morales’ death, according to the district attorney.
Rho’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said during the arraignment that the incident was a rare and unforeseen complication, according to the Daily News.
City officials required Rho to surrender his passport and to refrain from medical practice until the case is over, according to the Daily News. Rho is due back in court on November 15.
As of Thursday, the website for Rho’s facility was inactive and the business’ number was not in service.
An earlier version of the site, captured in March 2016, shows that the practice touted an “extremely low complication rate” and a full accreditation by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care.
A database maintained by the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct did not reveal any prior board actions taken against Rho.
The New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct did not respond to requests for comment.