Abortion doctor gives up license

WASHINGTON (BP)--The Massachusetts doctor in whose care a 22-year-old woman died after an abortion has surrendered his medical license permanently.

Rapin Osathanondh resigned his license Feb. 20, only hours after he apparently learned that the state's Board of Registration in Medicine had voted to suspend him. The board accepted Osathanondh's resignation, which it described in a news release as a "disciplinary action that permanently removes a physician from practice."

The obstetrician-gynecologist gave up his practice more than five months after Laura Smith died after he performed an abortion on her at his Hyannis, Mass., clinic. Smith was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital after being taken there from the clinic by ambulance, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Eileen Smith, Laura's mother, told Baptist Press her family and she are thankful Osathanondh will no longer practice medicine.

"We're ecstatic that no other woman is endangered now," she said. "That's the good news. The bad news is no one will ever know what he did."

Osathanondh's resignation means the records regarding the disciplinary action are sealed, Eileen Smith said. By voluntarily surrendering his license, Osathanondh also avoided any further state board action. In his resignation, he said he is not licensed outside Massachusetts and will not seek to be licensed in any other state. He had been licensed in Massachusetts since 1974.

A representative of the state board called Smith the morning of Feb. 20 to inform her it had suspended Osathanondh's license because he was a "risk to public safety," she told BP. The abortion doctor's resignation came later the same day.

Smith, an evangelical, pro-life Christian, did not know her engaged daughter was pregnant. Laura was pro-life and was reared in a Christian home with three other children by Eileen and her husband Tom. Laura had made a profession of faith in Christ and been baptized at the age of 12, her mother said.

A criminal charge still could be filed against Osathanondh. Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe will make a decision on charging the doctor after he reviews the autopsy, Smith said. The autopsy is nearly complete, she said.

In the meantime, the state medical examiner has ruled Laura's death was caused by "cardiac pulmonary arrest during anesthesia for voluntary termination" of her pregnancy, Smith said. The manner of death, which is the way the cause of death occurred, has yet to be announced, she told the Cape Cod Times.

Smith met with Osathanondh several days after her daughter's death. What she learned in that meeting prompted her to tell BP he was "practicing third-world medicine."

Smith hopes Osathanondh will be prosecuted, "because I think what he did to my daughter is criminal," she told BP. "It would be an example to other doctors who practice this kind of medicine.

"I don't think it's an act of revenge," she said. "I think it's justice."

Osathanondh's resignation did not bring "total healing" to her family, Smith said, "but I think it did bring some comfort. The pain is still ever-present for all of us."

Meanwhile, Eileen Smith plans to continue to speak out in support of the pro-life cause, something she has been doing since her daughter's death.

"I want to continue making sure Laura's death is not in vain," she said. "[I want] to see lives saved through her death"


Compiled by Tom Strode, Baptist Press' Washington bureau chief, with reporting by Jennifer Thurman, a former intern in the Washington bureau.

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