Abortion Practitioner Who Killed Woman in Legal Abortion Pleads Not Guilty
by Steven Ertelt
July 24, 2008
Hyannis, WA (LifeNews.com) — The abortion practitioner who has been charged with manslaughter after killing one of his patients in a botched legal abortion has plead not guilty to charges of manslaughter. Rapin Osathanondh killed 22-year-old Laura Smith in a legal abortion in September at his abortion facility.
A judge released Osathanondh on his own personal recognizance and the court has already taken his medical license so he can’t practice medicine.
The 65-year-old abortion practitioner was arraigned Thursday in Barnstable Superior Court. He also surrendered his passport so he can’t flee the country and escape the charges in connection with the abortion death.
Osathanondh was indicted by a grand jury after an investigation by local police, state police and the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.
Prosecutors say Osathanondh subjected Smith to willful, reckless conduct left her alone without monitoring her while she was under anesthesia. They also say no one else was at the abortion center at the time who had any lifesaving CPR training or experience with anesthesia except for Osathanondh.
His Boston-based attorney Paul Cirel told the Boston Globe last week that he expected the abortion practitioner "will be exonerated."
"He has been practicing medicine in this field for over 40 years and has performed thousands of similar procedures without any significant incidents," Cirel said.
"This is a tragedy that sometimes happens in medicine, but it happens; patients die inexplicably in the course of even routine procedures," he added. "This is not a matter that belongs in the criminal courts."
But Michael O’Keefe, the district attorney overseeing the case says it’s one of clear medical negligence.
"Suffice it to say, there was an inattention to the kinds of procedures of a lifesaving nature that one would expect in a place where an operation with anesthesia is being performed," O’Keefe said.
"There was nobody monitoring her, long enough to result in her death. There were a number of other shortcomings that make up the willful, wanton, and reckless conduct," he added.
In February, Osathanondh gave up his medical license permanently after a state medical board suspended it following the abortion death.
The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine revoked Osathanondh’s license prior to that and Osathanondh promised he would not pursue a medical license in any other state.
At the time, the medical board said Osathanondh engaged in "conduct that calls into question his competence to practice medicine," and that "has the capacity to deceive or defraud" and "undermines the public confidence for the medical profession."
The board said Osathanondh placed Smith under sedation with no way to monitor her heart rate, blood pressure, or oxygen levels. it also noted that no staff with CPR training were in the room with him at the time.
The board also indicated Osathanondh made false statements to it, especially concerning the CPR training.
The grand jury eventually exposed attempts to cover up the details of Smith’s death.
Smith’s mother Eileen said a Sheriff’s Deputy in another county provided Osathanondh and his abortion center staff with CPR training, then backdated the session to a date prior to Laura’s death. The official apparently did so with the full knowledge that someone had recently died at the abortion center.
Osathanondh and his staff had been uncertified in CPR until that time, Smith said.
"I’m appalled that an officer of the law would be involved in that," Eileen Smith said. "Thank God this has been exposed."
The pro-life group Operation Rescue, which has been monitoring the case, said Smith has filed a complaint in Bristol County against the deputy.
"We are gratified that Osathanondh will have to account for Laura’s death in a court of law," Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger told LifeNews.com.
"It is not enough that he can no longer practice medicine. He must be held legally responsible for his crimes that resulted in the death of this young woman," she said. "Only then can we say that some small measure of justice has been served."
Officials say Lauren Smith died from "cardiac pulmonary arrest during anesthesia during a voluntary termination of pregnancy" — an evaluation Eileen Smith has been trying to get officials to understand.
As LifeNews.com first reported, a pro-life group obtained records from emergency services in Massachusetts that reveal the callousness abortion business staff had towards Laura’s situation.
Transcripts of a 911 call reveal what one pro-life group calls a "cold-hearted dispassion."
Smith has pursued legal action against Osathanondh but her case was awaiting the autopsy report.
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.