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Doctor Surrenders Medical License Following Women’s Death After Botched Abortion

Terminating a pregnancy involves removal of the embryo or fetus from the uterus, which may be done through medicinal or surgical means. Dr. Robert Rho has recently faced more than simply civil malpractice after performing an abortion procedure where the woman ended up bleeding to death. Jamie Lee Morales wound up with a severed uterine artery, a torn cervix, and had her uterine wall punctured. After the procedure, Morales went to ride home with her sister and slipped out of consciousness in the car.

Defense Argument

Rho, who faces a manslaughter charge, claimed that Morales was conscious when she left his clinic. He claims to not have been aware of the severity of the injuries. Rho says he was not aware that Morales has a medical condition that increases the severity of bleeding. He has since surrendered his medical license and closed his New York practice. Prosecutors stated that Morales had been turned away from other providers for the procedure since she was 25 weeks along in her pregnancy.

Maryland Regulations

In Maryland, increased regulation of abortion facilities began when Dr. Steven Bingham, who was not licensed in Maryland, was found to be performing late-term abortions. The state implemented legislation to provide increased regulations for the procedure. The Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene was tasked with implementing new regulations, which included a thorough application process and licensing procedures. Providers are required to present a documented quality assurance program, pay a $1,500 fee for applying, and stay in compliance with federal and state laws.

Forestville Case

In another case, plaintiff and patient Shannon Hall brought a medical liability claim against Dr. Harold Alexander after suffering injuries under the doctor’s care. It was determined that Hall had a molar pregnancy, which can be very dangerous, yet Hall says the doctor never explained it to her. Hall was awarded over $1 million in damages by a jury.

Surgical Complications

Surgically performed abortions are relatively safe procedures, with fewer than 5% of them resulting in complications. Before surgery, a doctor is required to discuss any known potential side-effects or complications that may arise with the patient. Some of the potential problems or complications that may lead to potential claims of malpractice include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Cervical damage
  • Infection
  • Uterine hemorrhaging
  • Fetal expulsion
  • Harmful allergic reactions
  • Piercing of the uterus and others

Basis for Medical Malpractice in Abortion Procedures

In establishing a claim of medical malpractice there must have been a doctor and patient relationship. It must be proven that the provider executed the procedure in a manner that did not meet the current expectations or standards for practice. This breach in the provider’s duty of care is deemed medical negligence. There must be an established causal relationship between the injuries incurred and provider’s demonstration of negligence, which then allows for the possibility of pursuing damages.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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