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Medical board agrees to review provider of late-term abortions

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An anti-abortion group based in Albuquerque has persuaded the New Mexico Medical Board to open a formal review into the actions of the owner of one of the nation’s few clinics that perform late-term abortions.

A news release Thursday from Bud and Tara Shaver, of Abortion Free New Mexico, announced the decision by the executive committee of the state board that oversees physicians to launch a “formal review” of the death of an Albuquerque woman.

The woman died Feb. 4, 2017, after she underwent an abortion at Curtis Boyd’s clinic, Southwestern Women’s Options.

There was no immediate response to Journal requests for comment from Boyd or the clinic Thursday.

Last year, the state Office of Medical Investigator concluded the 23-year-old woman, who wasn’t identified, died unexpectedly after she was in the final stage of a third-trimester abortion at Boyd’s clinic in Downtown Albuquerque.

The autopsy, decried as a “whitewash” by the Shavers last year, concluded that her death was attributed to her pregnancy, not the abortion.

The OMI said the woman died from large blood clots in her lungs. She also had an infection from the abortion process, the OMI ruled.

The woman, during her abortion procedure, developed abdominal pain, elevated heart rate and difficulty maintaining normal blood oxygen levels. That led the clinic to take her to University Hospital, according to the OMI autopsy.

This is the second time since 2012 that anti-abortion activists have complained to the state Medical Board, made up mostly of physicians appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, about Boyd or his clinic operations.

The last case involved Dr. Shelley Sella, who worked at the clinic.

It evolved from a formal review to a public “notice of contemplated action” in which the medical board prosecutor accused Sella of gross negligence in treating a 26-year-old woman who had a uterine rupture during a late-term abortion in 2011.

Sella was accused of administering excessive uterine stimulants to the patient, who traveled to New Mexico from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the procedure at Southwestern Women’s Options clinic.

That complaint resulted in a full-blown board investigation and an administrative hearing on whether Sella breached the “standard of care.”

The board exonerated Sella in 2013.

A medical board spokeswoman didn’t respond to a Journal request for information about the current inquiry.

But a copy of the medical board’s letter to the Shavers, which they released Thursday, says that the board’s executive committee reviewed their complaint dated Dec. 12, 2017. It doesn’t recite the allegations, but the Shavers’ news release said the complaint relates to the death of the 23-year-old woman.

The board’s executive committee “determined that the allegations contained in it warrant further formal review to determine whether the licensee is in violation of the (New Mexico) Medical Practice Act.”

Typically, board actions prior to the filing of a “notice of contemplated action” are confidential.

The website for the clinic says that it performs abortions up to 28 weeks of pregnancy, with later abortions available in cases of maternal or fetal “indications.”

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