Court Upholds Suspension of Florida Late-Term Abortion Practitioner’s License
by Steven Ertelt
July 3, 2009
Orlando, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida appeals court has upheld the suspension of the license of late-term abortion practitioner James Pendergraft. He was fined $10,000 and has his licensed revoked for one year over an illegal late-term abortion he did in 2005. The Florida Board of Medicine handed down the decision in December 2007.
The board also placed Pendergraft’s license on a three year probationary period following the suspension.
Pendergraft runs five abortion facilities and his abortion centers in Ocala, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale were shut down for a brief time during an investigation into alleged illegal activities.
The illegal abortions occurred at the Orlando centers in 2004 and 2005, but the Florida Board of Medicine threw out the charges related to the 2004 abortion.
Pendergraft appealed the decision and, in an opinion filed yesterday, the Florida District Court of Appeals rejected all of Pendergraft’s arguments and stated that they "found no reversible error" in the Board’s suspension order.
The court ruled that Pendergraft violated state law when he did late-term abortions at his center that state law requires done at a hospital in case they are botched and a woman required immediate emergency medical attention.
The court also determined that Pendergraft violated state law which prohibits third trimester abortions unless two physicians certify in writing to the fact that, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, the abortion is necessary to save the life or preserve the health of the pregnant woman.
Pendergraft has a long history of violations and problems with the law.
In 2006, Pendergraft’s license was suspended for similar infractions and, in 2001, he was convicted of extortion and spent 46 months in prison.
"Like so many abortionists, Pendergraft continues to act as if he is above the law," Operation Rescue president Troy Newman told LifeNews.com about the late-term abortion practitioner.
"We call on the Florida Medical Board to convert the suspension into a permanent revocation, and continue to pray that Pendergraft’s five Florida abortion mills will permanently close," he said.
According to state records, the baby involved in the 2005 abortion allegedly had severe physical and mental problems.
Pendergraft spokeswoman Marti Mackenzie previously told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that the woman’s life was in danger in that case and that she was sent to Pendergraft for the abortion by two doctors who had previously examined her.
She indicated the woman was told by an unnamed hospital that she couldn’t have the abortion there.
"People sought him out because of his expertise so she could have this necessary termination as quickly as possible," Mackenzie told the newspaper. "I strongly maintain that not only is [Pendergraft] not a danger to women, he is their only salvation in these cases."
Florida officials also took actions against Pendergraft over a 2004 abortion in which he said a woman was 22 weeks pregnant. He gave her a drug to take at home to initiative contractions and begin the abortion.
And in 2005, a woman filed a lawsuit against one of Pendergraft’s abortion facilities saying it refused to call emergency personnel to help her or her baby, born on the second day of a two-day abortion procedure.
They charged Harry Perper, the abortion practitioner who began the abortion process, and Pendergraft with violating state law.
Attorneys for the law firm Liberty Counsel, who represented the woman, said a doctor should have been present during the second day of the abortion procedure. They say abortion business staff failed to provide adequate care and they cite unsanitary conditions at the facility.
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