Late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart (left) and Virginia abortionist Elizabeth Swallow have been accused of negligence by a woman who nearly died from abortion injuries.

By Cheryl Sullenger

Bethesda, MD — A Federal medical malpractice case has been filed against nationally known late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart and his facility in Bethesda, Maryland, after a Virginia woman suffered horrific, near-fatal injuries during a 25-week abortion. 

The malpractice case was filed on September 23, 2021, on behalf of Ashley P. Norris, who underwent a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) dismemberment abortion done at Carhart’s facility by Virginia abortionist Elizabeth Swallow on May 12, 2020.

Norris’ abortion was the first of two botched abortions that resulted in life-threatening injuries at Carhart’s late-term abortion facility in May of 2020. 

Aragaw v. Carhart et. al.

The second woman, Haimamot Aragaw, endured serious internal injuries on May 21, 2020, just nine days after Norris was rushed to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in critical condition.

Aragaw suffered a perforated uterus, massive hemorrhaging, and trauma to her appendix during a harrowing incomplete abortion that left most of her partially beheaded baby inside her abdominal cavity.  Aragaw filed her own Federal medical malpractice suit against Carhart and his former employee, abortionist Anh-Chi Dang Do, in July 2021.

After the two life-threatening abortion emergencies, Carhart changed the name of his business to C.A.R.E., an Orwellian acronym for “Clinics for Abortion and Reproductive Excellence.”  This could have been done to limit legal liability to his abortion business. Carhart, who turns 80 years old next month, also operates an abortion facility in his home state of Nebraska.

Norris’ abortion

Because of the advanced state of her pregnancy, Norris was referred to’s Bethesda facility for an abortion.

Norris then drove herself to Bethesda, Maryland, from her home in Virginia and had her first appointment with Swallow on May 11, 2020.  There she underwent an ultrasound examination and was prepared for overnight dilation by Swallow with laminaria insertion and medication so a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) dismemberment abortion could be completed the following day.

On May 12, Norris returned to the abortion facility and was given more drugs to induce further dilation but was later told that the drugs “had not done much.” Proper dilation of the cervical opening to the uterus is necessary during a D&E abortion so that abortion instruments, such as grasping tongs, may be fitted into the womb without causing injury.

Even though she had failed to adequately dilate, Norris was placed under sedation and Swallow began the D&E abortion.

According to the lawsuit, “Plaintiff Ashley P. Norris awoke during the procedure screaming in pain and was immediately placed back under anesthesia.”

Swallow had ripped a 5 cm hole Norris’s uterus and tore open her bowel.  Norris was bleeding profusely, and her blood pressure dropped dangerously low.  Swallow called Carhart in to assist with the abortion, but by then Norris’ condition was critical.

Emergency surgery

Norris was rushed by ambulance to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland, where she underwent immediate emergency surgery in a valiant effort to save her life.

Norris was given a “bikini line incision” like women receive during a Cesarean Section delivery.  Her uterus was taken out, and doctors found retained parts of her baby inside her injured womb.

Her abdominal cavity was filled with blood and covered in stool from the torn colon, part of which had to be removed. 

This diagram shows the anatomy of Norris’s injuries. Her uterus would have been larger than shown here and closer to the colon, which was described by a whistleblower as “macerated.”

The average adult human body contains approximately 10 pints of blood.  If one loses 40 percent of that blood volume, or around four pints, death is imminent.  Hospital records showed that Norris lost about 1500 cc of blood – the equivalent of 3.2 pints. 

Hovering near death due to her massive blood loss, Norris suffered respiratory arrest, but was revived.

Doctors suctioned the blood, surgically cleaned the abdominal cavity of fecal matter, and a colostomy was inserted with an external bag, which she retained for several days after her life-saving surgery.

Norris claimed that she was never told by anyone on the abortion facility staff that there was a risk of the kind of horrific injuries she endured.

This lack of information about the risks Norris was exposed to during her 25-week abortion is even more egregious since Carhart has committed this kind of injury before. In 2016, Carhart was sued by Wendy Devine, who also suffered a perforated uterus and other injuries during a botched abortion that left her infertile.


A whistleblower who was familiar with Norris’ treatment provided Operation Rescue with details within weeks of the botched abortion.

The whistleblower described Norris’ injuries as “the most horrific thing I have ever seen.”

The surgeon found that during her abortion, a severed leg that was intact from the hip down had been shoved into the abdominal cavity. 

Norris reportedly spent nine days in the hospital, two of which were spent intubated in the Intensive Care Unit.

According to the whistleblower, those involved in treating the woman were so upset by what they saw that the surgeon saw the need to send out an e-mail to the hospital staff acknowledging their trauma while caring for this woman.

Serious trouble

The two Federal medical malpractice cases filed by Ashley Norris and Haimamot Aragaw represent huge trouble for the aging Carhart and his bi-state abortion business.

Not only does Carhart face significant financial liability, but the level of negligence exhibited during both nightmarish abortions could place his medical license in jeopardy.

“After all the harm that he has caused in his life, it would be justice to see Carhart’s medical licenses revoked and his two abortion facilities closed,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.  “We tried to seek disciplinary action against Carhart after the death of another abortion patient in 2013, but to no avail. We hope this time that the Board will take the gross incompetence detailed in the malpractice suits into consideration and do their duty to protect the public from the kind of butchery Norris, Aragaw, and their babies were forced to endure.”

Read the complaint in Norris v. Carhart et. al.