Albuquerque-Metro

Family sues clinic, UNM for botched abortion

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - The family of a 23-year-old Albuquerque woman who died from a late-term abortion said the abortion clinic and UNM Hospital could have done more to save her.

"Whether you're pro life, pro choice whatever you are on this issue, everyone should be concerned about the reckless practices that led to the death of this healthy 23-year-old Albuquerque woman," said Elisa Martinez, a spokesperson for Keisha Atkins' family.

Atkins' family said the 23-year-old died after getting a late-term abortion last year.

According to the lawsuit, Atkins was six months pregnant when she went to Southwestern Women's Options for an abortion. Days later, she got sick and returned to the clinic.

"The third day into that procedure is when she began to experience complications," said Martinez. "Major complications from an infection that she contracted under the care of Southwest Womens Options." 

The clinic called an ambulance and she was rushed to UNM Hospital where she died soon after. Martinez claims Atkins' death could've been avoided.

The lawsuit states SWO didn't tell Atkins about the risks that came with a late term abortion. It also states she was told to not call 911 if she was experiencing complications, and to call the clinic's hotline instead.

Adding to their heartache, Martinez said the family was shocked when the medical examiner ruled Atkins' death as "natural" from pregnancy.

"We believe there is a cover up of the actual cause of death which is a septic abortion," said Martinez. "We have multiple UNM doctors at the hospital who treated Keisha [who] state that they were floored -- shocked by this cause of death that was due to something other than the abortion." 

SWO did not return KRQE News 13's calls for comment, but UNM released a statement saying:

UNM Hospital and its providers are dedicated to providing high quality, safe patient care for the benefit of all New Mexicans. Because this is pending litigation, UNM Hospital and its providers cannot comment on the allegations and will honor their obligations under federal privacy laws to maintain this patient’s privacy. The Office of the Medical Investigator’s mission is to investigate deaths to serve the living and is never swayed by outside pressure. Our conclusions are centered on fact.

The civil suit accuses the clinic and hospital of wrongful death and medical malpractice.


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