The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (“UNMHSC”) and Southwestern Women’s Options, a private late-term abortion clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have settled claims by the estate of a 23-year-old woman who died as a result of a late-term abortion performed at 24 weeks. UNMHSC paid $365,000 of the total $1.265 million to settle a New Mexico medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit that alleged that UNMHSC referred the woman to the clinic after it was determined that she was ineligible for an elective abortion at UNM’s Center for Reproductive Health. The clinic agreed during mediation to contribute $900,000 towards the settlement.
The woman originally went to UNM’s Center for Reproductive Health on January 23, 2017, seeking an elective abortion. She returned one week later for an examination, at which time she was 24 weeks into her pregnancy. Because UNM’s Center for Reproductive Health reportedly performs elective abortions only up to 22 weeks, UNM Medical Group contacted Southwestern Women’s Options on behalf of the woman and scheduled an appointment on her behalf, delivering the ultrasound results to the clinic on January 31, 2017. The New Mexico medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the legal elective abortion involved administering medication at the clinic to stop the fetal heartbeat, after which the woman returns home. Several days later, the woman is to return to the clinic where a medical provider induces labor and delivers the deceased fetus.
The woman began the multi-day elective abortion procedure the following day, returning two days later for fluids. Because she was having problems breathing, an ambulance was called to transfer her to the ER of UNM Hospital, where she arrived in respiratory distress with a rapid heart rate and a fever. Later that night, she was brought to the operating room where the abortion procedure was completed. During the procedure she suffered cardiac arrest and she was pulseless. She reportedly died from sepsis.
The woman’s mother stated during her deposition taken in the lawsuit, “She was one good kid, man.”
New Mexico law permits elective abortions during any phase of pregnancy, and the clinic reportedly advertises on its website that it performs abortions up to 32 weeks. UNM’s Center for Reproductive Health reportedly performs elective abortions up to 22 weeks. The woman’s death in New Mexico in 2017 was one of only two elective abortion deaths reported to the CDC for 2017. Only about 1.2% of abortions in the United States are performed at or after 21 weeks, with 91% performed at or before 13 weeks. The New Mexico medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit was settled last fall but became final in April 2022.
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in New Mexico, you should promptly find a New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a New Mexico medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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