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Texas Launches Investigation of Doctor Accused of Illegal Abortions

Texas Launches Investigation of Doctor Accused of Illegal Abortions

May 16, 2013 — The Texas Department of State Health Services and Harris County authorities are investigating allegations from an antiabortion-rights group that a Houston physician performed illegal abortion procedures, the Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune reports (Aaronson/Rogers, Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune, 5/15).

On Wednesday, the group Operation Rescue released a report accusing physician Douglas Karpen of killing live infants born after attempted third-trimester abortions. The allegations are based on statements by three former clinic workers and could not be independently verified (Eckholm, New York Times, 5/15).

Troy Newman -- president of Operation Rescue -- said the clinic employees provided videos and other evidence from Karpen's abortion clinic (Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune, 5/15). The group said the workers' accounts mirror the charges that led to the conviction of illegal abortion provider Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia (New York Times, 5/15).

Calls for Investigation

The report spurred Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) to release a statement demanding that authorities investigate. He said, "In a week when serial murderer Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of killing babies, I read with disgust about the allegations of Houston-based [abortion provider] Douglas Karpen performing illegal late-term abortions surrounded by appalling sanitary conditions in his clinic."

In an email, DSHS spokesperson Carrie Williams said the agency, which monitors state abortion facilities, is "aware of the allegations, and [is] investigating," adding, "This is a very high priority for us." Sara Marie Kinney, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, also confirmed that the office is "looking into the allegations."

A spokesperson for the Texas Medical Board indicated that Karpen's license is "free and clear." His licensing page shows no disciplinary action, according to the Chronicle/Tribune (Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune, 5/15).