Flushing doctor sentenced in botched abortion death

Flushing doctor sentenced in botched abortion death
Dr. Robert Rho was recently sentenced after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide that resulted in the death of 30-year-old Jamie Lee Morales.
Photo by Frank Franklin II/AP
By Steven Goodstein

A Flushing doctor was sentenced to jail time last week after pleading guilty to medical malpractice and negligence in the death of a woman who died as the result of a botched abortion.

Dr. Robert Rho drew a sentence of 1 1/3 to four years in prison after entering a guilty plea to criminally negligent homicide before Judge Gregory Lasak of the State Supreme Court in Queens.

The incident occurred on July 9, 2016, when 30-year old Jamie Lee Morales of Buffalo, accompanied by her sister, arrived at Rho’s office, located within the now-closed Liberty Women’s Health of Queens in Flushing, where she was scheduled for an abortion. At the time, she was about six months pregnant.

While performing the surgery, Rho, an obstetrician and gynecologist, caused a laceration to her cervix, a perforation of the uterine wall as well as a disruption and transection of the uterine artery.

Brown said Morales was still bleeding profusely when she was in the recovery room after the surgery, which led to Rho performing a second procedure to rectify the damage but failing to realize that she was in dire, necessary need of emergency medical care.

The DA’s office said that Rho had actually encouraged Morales to leave the facility after the second operation, even though she appeared lethargic and was still experiencing excessive bleeding.

Morales left the facility, but on the way to her sister’s residence in the Bronx, she fell out of the car backseat and became unresponsive. She was treated for vaginal bleeding and given six units of blood at a Bronx hospital, but ended up dying at the hospital later that same evening.

“This was a very sad case – a 30-year old woman who had her whole life ahead of her died as a result of this botched procedure,” Brown said. “The doctor has accepted responsibility and admitted his failure to provide adequate care following surgery, and he has been sentenced to prison as a result of his inaction.”

A 55-year old Great Neck resident, Rho had originally faced a second-degree manslaughter charge, punishable by 15 years in prison, before pleading to the lesser charge last month. Rho, who surrendered his medical license and closed his practice shortly after Morales’ death, is said to have performed 40,000 successful abortions in his 25-year career.

In this particular case, Rho did not provide Morales with appropriate medical care on a timely basis despite her excessive bleeding and deteriorating condition, which resulted in her death, the DA said.

Reach Steven Goodstein by e-mail at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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