QUEENS, New York, October 13, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A New York doctor was arrested this week for manslaughter three months after one of his patients died from a botched abortion.
Officials accuse Dr. Robert Rho of nicking the cervix of 30-year-old Jamie Lee Morales during a second trimester abortion on July 9, the New York Daily News reported. Morales bled to death that night.
Rho, 53, of Lake Success, Long Island, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Aside from the botched abortion, prosecutors say he failed to take care of Morales afterward.
Morales had gone with her sister to Liberty Women’s Healthcare in Flushing for the abortion that day, using the name Thaycha Ruiz.
During the abortion, Rho, 53, a gynecologist specializing in a type of female genital plastic surgery known as vaginal rejuvenation, reportedly hit Morales’ cervix, damaging her vaginal wall and opening a cut in an artery that passes through the uterus.
Morales realized she was still bleeding vaginally while in recovery, prosecutor Brad Leventhal said.
Having lost a large amount of blood, Morales needed a second operation, and once the second procedure was over, she was told to go to the hospital if the bleeding began again.
Morales was allowed to leave the abortion facility despite not having good balance and collapsing at least once, the report says. While being driven to her sister’s Bronx home, she lost consciousness. Morales was then taken to a Bronx hospital, where she was given six units of blood but died that night.
Morales’ aborted child was recovered from a black garbage bag outside the door of Liberty Women’s Healthcare.
A former receptionist who said Rho pressured her with dinner and free liposuction charged Rho with sexual harassment in 2011, but a jury rejected the 23-year-old woman’s claim.
Rho’s lawyer argued at his Tuesday arraignment in Queens that Rho had no criminal liability. Jeffrey Lichtman said he could understand the charges if Rho had a history of botched abortions, but Morales’ death was the first in thousands of Rho’s procedures.
“There was nothing that was particularly different about this case,” Lichtman said.
“This is a highly trained, highly experienced doctor who handles difficult abortions. I think this is a civil matter.”
“There is no question there is a tragic occurrence here, but it wasn’t criminal,” the lawyer said. “Of course I think he’s innocent.”
Lichtman continued, saying he could not recall a comparable criminal case in the last two decades and that this showed civil authorities know that sometimes women will die from abortion.
“There’s a reason why decades have gone without anybody being charged with homicide in an abortion case in New York,” Lichtman said. “Prosecutors have realized that there is some risk to these procedures, and sometimes unforeseen complications can occur, and sadly, women die on rare occasion.”
But pro-life advocates took issue with this approach to Morales’ death at the hand of her abortionist and expressed outrage that the loss of life was met with such disregard.
“The abortionist's defense lawyer says he is innocent, but of course a practitioner who kills people for a living does it with impunity so the fact that one of the mothers who used his deadly service wound up dead as well is really no concern of his,” American Life League President Judie Brown told LifeSiteNews. “We hope the court throws the book at this butcher.”
“From statements in news reports, it seems that Robert Rho’s attorney thinks we should just shrug off the death of Jaime Lee Morales as an unexpected abortion complication,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said. “But when a mistake by an abortionist takes a mother’s life, we cannot simply take a ‘things happen’ attitude.”
“Rho didn’t just make a small mistake,” Newman pointed out, “he literally butchered her, then kicked her to the curb. We have high praise for the prosecutors that had the courage to seek justice.”
Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak ordered Rho released on $400,000 bail. The abortionist was required to surrender his passport and prohibited from practicing medicine until the case concludes. His next court date is scheduled for November 15.