A New York woman's death has put Bellevue abortion provider LeRoy Carhart back in the national spotlight.
Abortion opponents say a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher died Thursday after getting a late-term abortion at Carhart's clinic in Germantown, Md.
Carhart did not return messages left on his cellphone Monday. A woman who answered the phone at his Bellevue clinic said he would not be available for comment.
Maryland authorities confirmed the woman's death but said they still are investigating the cause. Montgomery County (Md.) Police and the Medical Examiner's Office declined to say whether she had been at Carhart's clinic.
So far, abortion opponents are the only ones who have publicly linked the death to Carhart's clinic.
Carhart is one of the nation's few doctors who perform late-term abortions. He had done so at Bellevue's Abortion and Contraception Clinic until 2010, when the Nebraska Legislature banned abortions after 20 weeks' gestation.
He then opened the Germantown Reproductive Health Services clinic about 30 miles north of Washington, D.C.
Carhart also considered opening a late-term abortion clinic in Council Bluffs.
In response, Iowa lawmakers proposed legislation aimed at keeping him out of the state. The bills did not pass, but he has not opened a clinic there.
The Maryland clinic is frequently the site of demonstrations because abortion opponents say Carhart routinely performs dangerous late-term procedures.
Abortion rights advocates have defended Carhart, saying he performs procedures that other physicians have backed away from.
Abortion opponents are asking Maryland authorities to close Carhart's clinic in light of the death.
“One hopes that Maryland medical licensing authorities will do a thorough investigation in this case and what ramifications it will have on Carhart continuing to do late-term abortions in Germantown,” Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Julie Schmit-Albin said in a statement.
No state has taken disciplinary action against Carhart in the past 10 years, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The State Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the woman's death, said spokesman Bruce Goldfarb. He said he couldn't provide any details but that the death is being treated as a routine investigation.
The Montgomery County Police Department is awaiting the coroner's report, said Angela Cruz, a spokeswoman for the department. Police Capt. Paul Starks told the Washington Post there is no indication of criminal activity in the death.
An online obituary said the woman was married and taught in New Rochelle, N.Y. It also listed her baby girl as having died Thursday. Attempts to reach the woman's family were unsuccessful.
The obituary said the woman “passed away suddenly” but did not mention the cause.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.
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