Robert Rho, a Queens gynecologist, has retained Jeffrey Lichtman to defend him against a single charge of Manslaughter in the Second Degree brought against him by the Queens County District Attorney three months after a patient died following a second trimester abortion procedure. Charged with a violation of New York Penal Law § 125.15 – and facing 0-15 years in prison – it is alleged that Dr. Rho recklessly caused the death of his patient after complications arose following the completion of the abortion and a corrective procedure thereafter. Despite performing over 40,000 abortions in his 23 year career – which includes more than 900 higher risk abortions per year – this is the first and only time a patient has died while under Dr. Rho’s care. Despite performing so many abortions and high risk procedures over the years without any significant complications, and despite having a spotless medical disciplinary record, Dr. Rho becomes the first New York abortion doctor in decades to face criminal charges due to the unforseen complications which caused the death of his patient in July.
A High-Risk Abortion; A Very Unfortunately Rare Result
The abortion performed by Dr. Rho which is at the center of this criminal case occurred at approximately 23 weeks gestation; abortions which occur at this period carry significant increased risks to the patient and account for a disproportionate amount of abortion-related mortality. Many doctors will not perform such abortions due to the increased risk of the procedure, the increase in the attendant malpractice insurance and the increased risk of scrutiny and civil litigation should an unforseen complication arise. Nevertheless, there is a great need for surgeons willing to perform second trimester abortions; criminalizing the one unfortunate result in tens of thousands of successful late term abortions will only further discourage doctors from engaging in this high-risk surgical procedure. With less doctors willing to risk their license and their liberty while performing second trimester abortions, women’s health and safety will become increasingly jeopardized.
A Case Better Suited For a Malpractice Claim
For these reasons, we believe that the appropriate venue in which to determine fault in the death which is at the center of this criminal case is inside either a civil courtroom or before a Medical Board. Instead, Dr. Rho, a surgeon with a spotless medical disciplinary record and sterling reputation despite performing 40,000 successful abortions, many of them high risk, now faces up to 15 years in prison due to the second guessing of prosecutors. If convicted, a doctor who has helped so many women over two decades of safe medical practice will be housed with murders and rapists in an upstate prison. With so much at risk, Dr. Rho will have no choice but to fight this case not only for his liberty but also for his medical reputation.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman defends criminal defendants primarily in the federal and state courts of New York, across the country and, in some cases, the world. Jeffrey Lichtman has received the highest rating (AV) from the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory, is recognized in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has also been selected as a New York City Super Lawyer for being a leader in his field of criminal defense. Mr. Lichtman has also received a rating of 10.0/10.0 Superb rating from Avvo Lawyer Directory. We can be reached at (212) 581-1001.