Court: Woman’s Medical Records in Legal Abortion Death Must be Given Up

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 24, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Court: Woman’s Medical Records in Legal Abortion Death Must be Given Up Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 24,

Hyannis, MA ( — A local court has ruled that a Massachusetts abortion practitioner must hand over records pertaining to the woman who died from a legal abortion last month. Rapin Osathanondh, who practices in Hyannis and Brookline, must relinquish the medical records of Laura Smith, a 22-year-old who died after an abortion he did.

Smith, who was born in Honduras, died after visiting the Women Health Center, an abortion business Osathanondh runs.

Smith’s adoptive mother, Eileen, filed a legal complaint with the Barnstable Superior Court earlier this month seeking the records so she can purpose possible legal action against Osathanondh.

Osathanondh had previously allowed Smith to review the medical records but not copy them and the court determined that he must give them to her once any other family members with a claim to Laura Smith’s estate have had a chance to respond.

Eileen Smith’s attorney, David Angueria, told the Cape Cod Times that a ruling on the cause of death and the completion of the signed death certificate are still pending.

Angueria also told the newspaper that family members will give Smith permission to have the medical records and that they should be in her possession by the end of the week.

Osathanondh, who received his medical training in Thailand, met with Smith for one hour 10 days after Laura’s death. He required that Smith meet him alone and in a public place, refusing to allow Smith’s husband, Tom, to accompany her.

Smith was upset by what she saw, and decided to take legal action to obtain access to the records.

"Although they are not in our hands yet, but should be soon. Let’s hope they are the same records that I saw the first time," Smith told the pro-life group Operation Rescue, which has been monitoring the case.

Laura Smith’s family has delayed interment of their daughter’s body in the event a second autopsy is required.

Operation Rescue spokeswoman told in a statement that ""The Smith family needs to know the truth about what happened to their daughter inside that abortionist’s office so they can eventually find closure and healing."

"If Osathanondh is responsible for Laura’s death on that abortion table, then he needs to be brought to justice so that other women don’t suffer her fate," she said. "The unaltered medical records will help determine the next step."

Smith has previously commented that she has been upset that no mainstream media outlet had covered her daughter’s death until the Times first ran a story five weeks after the fact.

“I don’t want Laura’s death swept under the rug," she told the National Catholic Register. “If Laura had died falling off a bike or in a car accident, it would have been in the paper the next day. [Abortion] is a political hot potato."

The Times interviewed Karen Trott, a local resident who was a friend of Smith and went with her to the abortion center.

Trott said Smith was initially worked up and told to come back later in the day for the actual abortion and said Smith was 13 weeks pregnant at the time.

She waited for the abortion procedure to be completed so she could drive her friend home. But that never happened as the botched abortion apparently caused Smith significant medical problems.

"And then all of a sudden (an assistant) comes out and says she’s not breathing," Trott said. "And I was like, what do you mean she’s not breathing?"

After paramedics rushed Smith to a Cape Cod Hospital, Trott called Eileen and Tom Smith to let them know about their daughter’s condition.

District Attorney Michael D. O’Keefe met with Mrs. Smith on October 11 about the possibility of criminal charges against Osathanondh. However, she was informed that no case can go forward without Laura’s autopsy report.

Smith filed her own complaint with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine last week. She asks for an investigation and discipline of Osathanondh for his part in her daughter’s death.

Osathanondh made headlines in 2001 when he threatened to kill staff members because of misplaced paperwork.

Smith told the Times that her daughter was opposed to abortion and she is surprised Laura decided to have one.

"That’s the confusion we have," she said. "That is one of the answers I don’t have."

Nearly 600 people attended Smith’s funeral and the National Catholic Register reports that at least one woman canceled her appointment for an abortion after hearing of the tragic news.

“My daughter walked into that office healthy and she left dead. I don’t want her death to be in vain," Smith has said.