Maryland board of physicians closes probe of abortion doctor after woman’s death

October 15, 2013

The Maryland Board of Physicians has closed its investigation into allegations that an abortion doctor provided improper care to a woman who died in February after the procedure, according to a copy of the letter sent to the physician.

The action was the last in a series of reviews into the care of a 29-year-old woman who died days after receiving a late-term abortion performed by LeRoy Carhart at the Germantown clinic where he works several days a week. Carhart is one of a handful of doctors nationwide who publicly acknowledge performing abortions late in pregnancy. He has been the focus of protests by antiabortion groups, especially after the murder conviction of Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell in May.

Carhart’s office received the letter Tuesday and made a copy available to the Post. The letter, dated Oct. 10, said the board had completed its review of complaints made in February “regarding allegations that you did not appropriately provide care” to the woman.

“The Board’s review included your response, patient medical records and other materials contained in the Board record,” the letter said.

“Based on this review, the Board has decided to close this matter without further action. Since the Board has closed this matter, it does not consider any action pending against you.”


LeRoy Carhart (Nati Harnik/AP)

The board’s action comes after an autopsy report in May cited natural causes in the woman’s death. She suffered a rare condition in which amniotic fluid was pushed into her blood system. When it enters a woman’s blood system, it can impede her ability clot blood, David Fowler, Maryland’s chief medical examiner has said.

Also in May, officials at the Maryland health department investigating the case found “no deficiencies” in her care at the clinic.

In his first direct comments on the case, Carhart said: “I totally believe that we did everything as correctly as possible.

“It’s a horrendous thing for the family and it’s hard for me. I think about it every day.”

He also criticized anti-abortion activists for identifying the woman by name. “I’m appalled at the way the information about her was released at the beginning. Her interests should have been protected.”

He said the fetus was “tremendously deformed.” Fetal anomalies were initially diagnosed fairly late in the pregnancy, and the couple also sought additional testing that took another two to three weeks, he said.

Her rare condition “would probably” have taken place even if she carried the baby to term and could have happened during pregnancy, he said.

Lena H. Sun is a national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on health.
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