Abortionist Robert Rho on Trial for Manslaughter in Abortion Death Amid Media Blackout

UPDATE: Trial resumes on Monday, April 16, 2018! Watch for further updates.

By Cheryl Sullenger

Queens, NY – The criminal trial of an abortionist, Robert Rho, who caused the death of an abortion patient in 2016, is currently underway in the Queens Supreme Court in New York. Although it is a case that should be of national interest, few people are aware of it. That’s because the trial is experiencing a complete media blackout.

The trial involves the death of 30-year old Jaime Morales, who reported to the Liberty Women’s Healthcare office in Flushing, New York, on July 9, 2016, for an elective second trimester abortion with clinic owner Robert Rho.

Rho thought that the abortion on Morales went without complication until staff noticed she was bleeding heavily in the recovery room. Rho determined that she required a second abortion procedure, but even that did nothing to control the profuse bleeding.

A woozy Morales continued to bleed and even collapsed once at the clinic. Even though she was too unstable to release, Rho discharged Morales to her sister, and they began the drive to the sister’s home in the Bronx. Along the way Morales fell off the back seat of the car and became non-responsive as a result of continued hemorrhaging.

Morales was transported by ambulance to a Bronx-area hospital where she was pronounced dead later that evening.

According to news reports at the time, an autopsy revealed horrific internal injuries inflicted by Rho during one or both abortion procedures he conducted on her that day. Rho had lacerated her cervix, punctured her uterus and sliced her uterine artery. Any one of those injuries would cause heavy bleeding, but together, they proved catastrophic.

Had Rho not released Morales in her unstable condition, and instead called an ambulance, she might be alive today, and Rho would only be facing the possibility of a malpractice suit instead of jail time.

A grand jury was convened to investigate Morales death and indicted Rho on one count of Second Degree Manslaughter (Reckless Homicide), a Class C Felony that carries a penalty of 3 1/2 to 15 years in prison.

Rho was arrested and booked on October 11, 2016. He entered a “not guilty” plea during his arraignment the following day and was released on $400,000 bail.

At first Rho appeared remorseful for his actions that led to Morales’ needless death. He surrendered his medical license and closed his abortion clinic. A speedy resolution to the criminal case was expected.

However, the case was marked by repeated delays. For the next eighteen months, Rho remained out on bail with scheduled hearings every three months.

It is assumed, but not confirmed, that a plea bargain was offered by Assistant District Attorney Brad A. Leventhal and rejected by Rho. A jury trial was set and now it appears that Rho is fighting for his freedom – an irony considering his victim, Ms. Morales, can never be freed from the grave where Rho put her.

Today, Rho’s trial before a jury of his peers continues in the courtroom of Judge Gregory Lasak, but no information about the proceedings is available outside appearance notices on the Court’s web page. The trial is expected to run through Friday, April 13, 2018.

“The trial delay resulted in the loss of what scant media attention there was in this case. We continue to follow it the best we can, but without being in the courtroom, it is impossible to know any details of the testimony and evidence, due to the media blackout,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “When a woman dies from a negligent abortion, it simply doesn’t fit the mainstream media’s pro-abortion agenda. It’s better for them to ignore it and act like it never happened. In a way, the media bears some responsibility for cases like this because they refuse to report on the true dangers of abortion.”

Operation Rescue has reported on this case since Rho’s arrest in October 2016, and will report on the outcome of the trial when it is known.

Court Docs Reveal Previously Unknown Patient Death Due to Negligence at Late-Term Abortion Facility

By Cheryl Sullenger

Washington, DC – Court documents obtained by Operation Rescue accused late-term abortionist Cesare F. Santangelo of negligence in the previously unknown death of an abortion patient at his Washington Surgi-Clinic in 2010. That facility is located in Washington, D.C.

According to a 2011 medical malpractice/wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family, Rebecca Carey Charland experienced a complicated pregnancy in the spring of 2010. She suffered from a condition known as antiphospholipid syndrome. That condition causes the immune system to attack proteins normally found in the blood, and can lead to the formation of blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, and miscarriage or stillbirth.

Unfortunately, her condition resulted in the natural death of her wanted pre-born baby in Charland’s second trimester of pregnancy.

On May 17, 2010, Charland underwent an ultrasound examination that confirmed her baby, which should have measured 20 weeks 2 days, had tragically died in the womb at 16-17 weeks gestation.

The following day, her physician referred her to Santangelo and the Washington Surgi-Clinic, an outpatient abortion facility, for a D&E procedure to remove her dead baby.

“We don’t understand by this obstetrician referred his patient to Santangelo. She should have been referred to a specialist at a hospital due to her complicated medical history. Women that have suffered the death of a baby in the womb obviously require some kind of procedure to remove the deceased child, and we have the utmost compassion for anyone who has to endure that tragic situation. But the procedures should be done in hospitals under the supervision of legitimate physicians, and not done by quack abortionists at ill-equipped outpatient clinics. In this case, the mother’s death at Santangelo’s abortion clinic was avoidable and needless,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

As instructed, Charland reported to the abortion facility on May 19, 2010, for the first stage of the abortion, which included the insertion of laminaria dilators. The family claims in their 2011 lawsuit that she was never told that her condition posed increased risks of hemorrhage and the development of another condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which can be fatal.

Charland was also not informed that she could have the procedure in a safer, hospital setting. However, Santangelo held no hospital privileges, meaning he would have had to refer her – and the fee he expected to earn – to another physician, which he did not do.

The following day, May 20, Charland returned to the clinic for the completion of her procedure, but she was told she was insufficiently dilated. A second round of laminaria dilators were inserted and she was instructed to return to the clinic the following day.

However, about two hours later, Charland returned to the Washington Surgi-Clinic and began to complain of abdominal pain. She was told to wait for Santangelo to return to the clinic.

Finally, at around 2:38 pm, Santangelo conducted Charland’s abortion procedure. By 2:45 pm her oxygen saturation levels dropped and she began to turn blue, according to the anesthesia record. Eleven minutes later, she was intubated. Her pulse and blood pressure continued to drop. At that time, she was given epinephrine, atropine, and bicarb.

At 2:58 pm – thirteen minutes after Charland began to turn blue – an ambulance was finally called.

The ambulance arrived five minutes later. Paramedics found Charland a bluish-purple color and immediately began chest compressions, which improved her color after only one minute of application. Santangelo, who is accused of waiting too long to call for emergency help, never attempted to perform appropriate resuscitation efforts, according to the complaint.

Then, at 3:12 pm, Charland’s pulse became undetectable, causing paramedics to use a defibrillator on her heart.

At 3:25 pm, she was transported by a D.C. Fire and Rescue unit to George Washington University Hospital where it was determined that Charland had suffered massive uterine bleeding that brought on DIC, a clotting disorder that causes more hemorrhaging and cascading organ failure.

Charland was declared dead on May 29, 2010, leaving two minor children motherless as well as a grieving husband and family.

An autopsy was conducted on Charland, which revealed a grotesque truth.

A microscopic analysis of her lungs showed skin cells, lango hair (fine hair that usually covers a baby in the womb), and fat – what the coroner referred to as “fetal debris.” This finding meant that bits of her dismembered baby entered her bloodstream – possibly through a uterine laceration or perforation — and lodged in her lungs.

The lawsuit accused Santangelo of ignoring Charland’s medical condition and the prescribed blood-thinning medication she was taking that contraindicated an outpatient D&E procedure.

He was also accused of failure to provide proper informed consent of her risks, failure to respond to Charland’s symptoms and complaints, and failure to conduct proper medical procedures, failure to refer her to a physician who could conduct her procedure is the safety of a hospital setting.

When Charland showed signs of respiratory distress, he negligently failed to apply proper resuscitation procedures, or call 911 in a timely manner.

Charland’s family sought financial damages in the amount of $80 million.

The lawsuit, filed on May 27, 2011, actively progressed until January 17, 2012, when the case was suddenly dismissed at the request of all parties just before depositions were to begin, according to court records. The dismissal is an indication that the parties reached an out-of-court settlement agreement for an undisclosed amount.

“It seems particularly tragic that this woman had to needlessly suffer and die at the hands of a greedy abortionist after enduring the heart break of losing her child. Even though this happened a few years ago, I want to extend my condolences to her surviving family, who suffered a tremendous loss of a wife, mother, child and sibling,” said Newman. “I hope they got a huge settlement out of Santangelo. It’s just too bad that it wasn’t enough to put him out of business, and halt his negligent abortion practices that continue to endanger women.”

A D.C. Department of Health file obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveals that Santangelo’s career has been fraught with a series of troubling botched abortions. At least two hospitals that have had to deal with these bad outcomes have lodged complaints against Santangelo.

A 2013 complaint filed by a department head at George Washington University Hospital addressed concerns about several of Santangelo’s “bad outcomes related to abortion.” The review panel was reluctant to discipline Santangelo, at one point noting, “He is the ‘go to” referral for these kind of high risk cases.”

Instead the panel made the following suggestions for changes Santangelo might consider adopting:

1. Consider conducting terminations with ultrasound guidance to reduce risk of uterine perforation;
2. Improve provider-referring hospital communication; and
3. Ensure that pre-consent and consent to surgery forms are uniform and do not have any differences, thereby preventing miscommunication.

All three of these issues were present in the Charland case, yet the George Washington University Hospital complaint was closed without further action.

Another complaint was filed by a nurse at Spotsylvania Medical Center in Virginia complained of a botched abortion, which was also closed by the Medical Board, as were several other patient complaints that were all found to be without merit.

“Serious oversight issues exist in Washington D.C.’s Department of Health and Medical Board that is giving Santangelo a free pass as he continues to wreck havoc with women’s health and lives,” said Newman. “Instead of putting Santangelo’s career first, they should be protecting the lives of women and their babies first. Turning a blind eye the way they have will only lead to more dead women, dead babies, and mourning families. At some point, it has to stop.”

Source Documents:

2011 Complaint
Court timeline of case
DC Health Dept. FOIA document with complaints listed (as of 11/9/2017)

Ten Years Later, the Abortion Death of Laura Hope Smith Still Hurts

By Cheryl Sullenger

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of Laura Hope Smith, who died at the age of twenty-two from a botched abortion on September 13, 2007. It seems like just the other day.

Laura was born into abject poverty in Honduras on May 25, 1985, and was abandoned at an orphanage. An American couple that adopted Laura abused her terribly and gave her up. Laura was then adopted by Tom and Eileen Smith, a Christian family that lovingly raised Laura in the Cape Cod community of Sandwich. Their love turned Laura’s life around and allowed her to bloom into a beautiful and talented young woman.

Laura was a 2004 graduate of Upper Cape Tech, majoring in cosmetology, but later realized that profession did not suit her. At the time of her death she was working in retail management. Laura was a born-again Christian who was an active member of Calvary Chapel of Sandwich.

She was a healthy, happy young woman who was loved by many. Over 600 people attended Laura’s funeral.

But she was a human being who made a tragic mistake. She paid for that mistake with her life and that of her pre-born child. Her family still misses her terribly.

The abortionist who was responsible for Laura’s death was a Harvard-educated man named Rapin Osathanondh, who operated two offices in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts.

Once Operation Rescue published an article about the abortion-related death, we were contacted by Laura’s mom, Eileen Smith. Smith told Operation Rescue that two days after Laura’s death, she gave a full interview to the local newspaper, which was scheduled to be published on the day of Laura’s funeral. The article never appeared, leading her to believe there were ongoing efforts to cover up her daughter’s death.

She was desperate to make sure it was not swept under the rug. We helped her file a medical board complaint against Osathanondh and make contact with the District Attorney.

But Eileen Smith was on a mission, and would not rest until the truth came out. She contacted one of Osathanondh’s employees, Kim Nichols, who then came forward and told the authorities what really happened to Laura.

Laura had been given a dangerous anesthesia drug without proper emergency equipment and supplies on hand. She went into cardiac arrest and died on the abortion table. Later Osathonondh purchased the missing equipment and backdated it to look like those items were present during Laura’s medical emergency. When the medical board questioned him, he gave a phony story about what happened.

Once Nichols was interviewed and explained the truth, the Board began disciplinary action against him. In February, 2008, Osathanondh relinquished me Massachusetts medical license and promised never to apply for another one in any state. His two offices, including the Women’s Health Center, in Hyannis where Laura died.

“I will never forget Laura Hope Smith, whose life was snuffed out along with her child, as I stood there holding her hand, thinking I was helping her!” said Nichols, who is now pro-life and expressed a desire to volunteer for a pregnancy care center.

Osathanondh was later charged with manslaughter in Laura’s death. On September 13, 2010, three years to the day after he killed Laura, Osathanondh pled guilty to one count of manslaughter and was sentenced to six months in jail. He was taken away in handcuffs.

That same day, he settled a civil suit brought by Eileen Smith for $2 million.

Laura’s death had a lasting impact on her friends, especially Chelsea Freeman. After Chelsea became pregnant, her pre-born daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She was told she should get an abortion.

“When Laura passed away, it changed my views on abortion,” Chelsea told a reporter. After viewing her daughter on ultrasound, she knew she could never harm her baby. Chelsea’s baby, saved out of Laura Hope Smith’s tragedy is now eight years old.

Maybe jail and a civil judgment wasn’t perfect justice, but at least Osathanondh paid some penalty for what he did, and he will never be able to kill another baby – or mother – through abortion again. While nothing can ever bring Laura back, we can remember her and the lessons learned from her tragedy, and celebrate the changes in the hearts of those around her. But, ten years later, it still hurts.

Looking Deeper: Analysis of Facts Proves Woman Died from Abortion — Not Pregnancy

By Cheryl Sullenger

Albuquerque, NM – Tara Shaver opened the mysterious letter that arrived in the mail. She could hardly believe what she was reading.

It was an anonymous tip that informed her a woman named Keisha Atkins had died from a late-term abortion on February 4, 2017.

Shaver and her husband, Bud, who lead Abortion Free New Mexico, have spent years laboring in the pro-life trenches in Albuquerque exposing the largest late-term abortion facility in the United States, Southwestern Women’s Options, and its connections to the publicly-funded University of New Mexico.

Due to their experience and training, once serving as interns for Operation Rescue, they immediately jumped into action. They filed a public records request for Atkins’ autopsy and established a valuable line of communications with her family. They discovered that Atkins’ abortion had been done at Southwestern Women’s Options, which made perfect sense since it alone in New Mexico specializes in late-term abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

They consulted with Operation Rescue over the meaning of the autopsy report. Such reports are written in technical medical jargon that is sometimes difficult for anyone without a medical background to decode. However, this correspondent has been reading autopsies concerning abortion-related deaths for decades.

It did not take long to realize that as everything was not as it seemed.

At first glance, the cause and manner of death of this initially healthy 23-year old woman was made it appear that abortion was not even a factor in Atkins’s death. The cause of death was “Pulmonary thromboembolism due to pregnancy.” Her manner of death was natural.

In other words, the autopsy findings that a blood clot formed as a result of her healthy pregnancy and coincidentally at the moment of the abortion, it traveled to her lungs and killed her.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Once Operation Rescue and Abortion Free New Mexico announced Atkin’s death and released the public autopsy report, the Albuquerque Journal jumped all over it, declaring in their headlines, “Autopsy rules out abortion as cause of death.”

The newspaper cited the opinion of the UNM Office of the Medical Investigator that it was Atkins’ pregnancy that killed her, not the four-day late-term abortion process that Operation Rescue believes was mismanaged her eighty-year old abortionist, Curtis Boyd, and fumbled by UNM hospital where she died.

But as William Shakespeare once said, “Truth will out.”

No matter how much UNM may have tried to obfuscate what happened to Keisha Atkins, the truth seeps through in the pages of the autopsy report in descriptions of her physical condition and the complications she experienced in what must have been an excruciatingly panic-filled and painful death.

“Somehow, these people want us to believe that Atkins developed blood clots as a result of her pregnancy, and through no one’s fault, a blood clot just coincidentally moved to her lung and killed her in the middle of a late-term abortion, which, of course, played no part in her death,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “That’s ludicrous in light of the rest of the autopsy report findings.”

Here is what happened to Keisha Atkins, according to the autopsy report, information provided by her family, and documented information obtained through research by Operation Rescue.

Atkins reported to Southwestern Women’s Options, the nation’s largest late-term abortion facility, on January 31, 2017, to begin a four-day late-term abortion. She was at least six months pregnant, and may have been even farther along according to the tipster that contacted Tara Shaver.

Sometime during the ensuing days, something went wrong and Atkins developed a bacterial infection.

Possible sources for such infections during late-term abortions include:

• Complications from the repeated insertion and removal of laminaria cervical dilators;
• The fact that the baby in the womb is killed on Day 1 of the procedure and the woman must carry her dead fetus for days before completing the abortion;
• Unsanitary conditions and/or practices by abortion facility staff.

On February 3, four days after her abortion process began, Adkins reported to Southwestern Women’s Options for the completion of her abortion. She was showing signs of a dangerous, systemic infection known as sepsis. She also displayed difficulty breathing as she was being prepared for labor. (Read more about how late-term abortions are done.)

Because of the seriousness of her condition, an ambulance was called at 12:04 p.m., but was later cancelled by the clinic, according to a 911 Computer Aided Dispatch transcript obtained by Operation Rescue. At some later point in the day, Atkins was transported by unknown means to UNM Hospital.

Once at the hospital, Atkins was tested for blood clots with negative results. The autopsy report made an effort to explain the rare false-negative test with one statistic that shows false negatives occur in as high as 10.7% of cases. (In other words, no one was at fault.)

Atkins continued to suffer shortness of breath and below base-line oxygen levels despite supplemental oxygen. She also experienced abdominal cramping pain, an elevated heart rate, and reduced ventricular function in her heart.

Additional tests of her placental tissue showed the presence of a bacterial infection. Post-mortem tests of her uterus also showed evidence of the infection.

Why is this significant to understanding the truth behind Atkins’ death?

Bacterial infections are a known trigger for a life-threatening condition called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC).

DIC is a clotting disorder that begins with the rapid formation of small blood clots that block small blood vessels. As the clotting becomes more aggressive, it essentially strips the rest of the blood supply of the clotting factor. This typically results in hemorrhaging of the body cavity and various organs, including the brain.

In addition to bacterial infections, other causes of DIC can include retention of a dead fetus and surgery – both of which were documented in Atkins’ autopsy report.

Supposedly operating under a false-negative test for blood clots, UNM Hospital staff conducted a surgical Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) dismemberment abortion to remove the dead baby.

During the D&E procedure, Atkins suffered a fatal heart attack due to a blood clot in her lungs. Resuscitation efforts were so aggressive that her ribs were broken, yet they proved unsuccessful.

She also received “multiple blood product transfusions,” – a standard treatment for DIC – but to no avail.

Atkins was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. on February 4, 2017.

Atkins’ autopsy revealed “acute coagulopathy” as well as hemorrhaging in the brain, left adrenal gland, inside the abdominal cavity, and from the uterus. She also had a massive build-up of serous fluid around her lungs.

How do we know she hemorrhaged from the uterus when that is not specifically mentioned in the report? There was a curious notation in the initial description of Atkins’s body that stood out.

A Foley catheter was present that led through the cervix and into the uterus. A Foley catheter balloon is used to tamponade the inside of the uterus to stop heavy bleeding. (Such a procedure is described on page 24 of this unrelated medical board document.)

The UNM coroner’s determination that Atkins died from “Pulminary thromboembolism due to pregnancy” is suspect, at best.

These are a few of the symptoms described or strongly inferred in Atkins’ autopsy report that the coroner’s opinion does not account for:

• Uterine hemorrhaging;
• Hemorrhaging in the brain;
• Hemorrhaging adrenal gland with blood found in the abdominal cavity;
• A large amount of serous fluid found around the lungs, (over 40 ounces);
• Bruising of the extremities (another symptom of DIC).

The UNM cause of death also does not account for the multiple transfusions of blood products she was given at the UNM hospital.

These symptoms do not make sense in light of a random blood clot in the lungs. However, they do make sense in light of the clotting and hemorrhaging that exemplifies DIC.

It more likely that during Atkins’ four-day abortion process — during which she retained the body of her dead baby — a bacterial infection turned septic and initiated a fatal cascade of symptoms associated with Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation.

It is Operation Rescue’s opinion, based the facts found in the autopsy report, that the UNM cause of death determination is simply not the truth.

The abortion facilities involved in patient deaths first try to conceal the fact that a patient died. If that doesn’t work, the abortion businesses immediately attempt to deny any culpability for their patient’s death.

What is the easiest way to do that? Whitewash the truth by blaming the woman and/or her pregnancy.

The leftist mainstream media is usually a willing co-conspirator in the cover up, and the response to the Atkins death was no exception.

Once Operation Rescue and Abortion Free New Mexico announced Atkin’s death and released the autopsy report – a public record — the Albuquerque Journal jumped all over it, declaring in their headlines, “Autopsy rules out abortion as cause of death.”

The newspaper cited the opinion of the UNM Office of the Medical Investigator that it was Atkins’ pregnancy that killed her, not the four-day late-term abortion process that Operation Rescue believes was mismanaged her eighty-year old abortionist, Curtis Boyd, and fumbled by UNM hospital where she died.

UNM’s own autopsy report described in detail compelling evidence that it was complications from the abortion process that killed Keisha Atkins – not her pregnancy.

There can be no doubt that if Keisha Atkins had not endured the process of a four-day late-term abortion, she would be alive today.

So why the attempt to obfuscate the true cause of death?

UNM and Southwestern Women’s Options are partners in the trade in aborted baby remains. SWO is the sole supplier of aborted baby tissue and organs to UNM. Both are under criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s office based on a complaint filed by Tara Shaver of Abortion Free New Mexico and criminal referrals issued by the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.

This gives them UNM and SWO motive to nefariously ascribe the death of Keisha Atkins to her pregnancy in order to prevent another abortion-related scandal in the middle of a criminal investigation into their alleged participation in the illegal baby body parts trade.

This may also be why there was no notation of the weight of the dismembered remains of Atkins’ baby in the autopsy report. While the baby’s remains were present during the autopsy, revealing the weight might also reveal the truth about how far along Atkins’ pregnancy really was.

On a side note, some have expressed misplaced concern that the autopsy report was made public, and that its release may have compromised Atkins’ privacy, or more absurdly, her legal rights as a dead person. In reality, there is no legal issue with making a public document available to the public.

In fact, its release is actually a public service. The people have a right to know what is going on at SWO and UNM, especially because they are both recipients of public funds. They have a right to know that not everything is as it appears in the left-wing Albuquerque Journal.

When abortion is involved, concealing the truth that seeps through in these public documents only serves to aid the abortionists and their associates, who are desperately trying to defuse any controversy around Atkins death.

Tara Shaver’s anonymous tipster apparently had a sense that something was very wrong in the way Keisha Atkins’ death occurred and how it was handled after the fact. And that person’s instincts were right.

If this information can prevent others from suffer Atkins’ fate, it is morally imperative to make sure the public – as well as the authorities investigating UNM and SWO — knows about it.

Operation Rescue urges the New Mexico Medical Board and the Attorney General’s office to aggressively investigate Keisha Atkins’ death, and bring those responsible for it and its cover-up to justice.

Read Atkins’ Autopsy Report