Abortion Practitioner Richard Leigh of North Dakota Dies

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 8, 2011   |   4:09PM   |   Grand Forks, ND

Former abortion practitioner Richard Leigh of North Dakota has passed away. He was one of the few abortion practitioners to do abortions in the northern state in the 1970s and 1980s and he eventually lost his medical license over fraud.

Leigh did abortions in Grand Forks, ND and eventually retired to the Phoenix Arizona area, where he passed away over the weekend after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for six years.

“People who knew him trusted him and liked him,” his wife Kathy Leigh said in an interview with the Grand Forks Herald. “And that’s how I will remember him.”

But pro-life advocates will remember his as the man who snuffed out the lives of thousands of people. They will also remember how North Dakota officials revoked his medical license after facing accusations that he was defrauding the Medicare program. He was accused of bilking about $22,000 from the national health insurance program.

Rolf Sletten, executive secretary of the state Board of Medical Examiners, told the Associated Press that Leigh would be required to repay the amount he illegally gained from the program. Sletten said the board believes Leigh, who first obtained his medical license in 1949, defrauded the federal program for the elderly and disabled from 2001 to 2004.

“It’s a bad end to a long career,” Sletten told AP.

Leigh was one of the few abortion practitioners in North Dakota and opened what is considered to be the first abortion business in the state following the Roe decision. In March 2003, he was quoted as saying that he did illegal abortions before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 essentially allowing unlimited abortions. He suggested that women made him do the abortions and that he wasn’t to blame.

“Anti-abortion people are mad at the wrong people,” he said.

Jane Bovard, a longtime pro-abortion activist in North Dakota, praised Leigh, who once said he had done as many as 12,000 abortions before stopping in 1998.

“He was a pioneer,” she told the Grand Forks paper. “I was much more politically involved than Dr. Leigh was. It was not his style to go to the Legislature or do political lobbying. But I know he felt he was providing quality care that was very much needed.”

“Before Roe v. Wade, there were people providing illegal abortions in North Dakota, back-alley abortionists,” Bovard said. “He pretty much put an end to that once abortions became legal.”