Notorious late-term abortionist arrested in South Carolina
by Bob Brown
Posted 10/17/15, 05:05 pm
South Carolina court records show that Spartanburg County Sheriff deputies arrested notorious late-term abortionist James Scott Pendergraft IV on Oct. 5 after he and a woman passenger identified as his wife were pulled over for a traffic violation on Interstate 85. A search of Pendergraft’s car turned up illicit drugs and forceps covered in blood and human tissue, leading Sheriff Chuck Wright to speculate that Pendergraft was operating an illegal mobile abortion business in the state (see yesterday’s “Illegal abortionists often busted only after unrelated investigations”).
“He traveled around the state of South Carolina without a medical license, with drugs and with medical tools performing in-home abortions,” Wright said at an Oct. 9 press conference. “So basically we‘ve got an illegal baby killer and his wife was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.”
Pendergraft (who was the subject of a WORLD Magazine feature story in 2013) posted $2,000 bond and was released. But the Sheriff's Office public information officer Lt. Kevin Bobo said an investigation is ongoing.
In spite of lawsuits and medical license suspensions going back decades, Pendergraft has relocated his grisly practice to different states along the East Coast.
In 2006, Florida officials permanently barred abortions at Pendergraft’s two Orlando facilities and temporarily suspended procedures at his centers in three other Florida cities. At that time, the state of Florida also suspended Pendergraft’s medical license for “performing third-trimester abortions outside of a hospital setting and without obtaining concurring physician opinions,” according to North Carolina Medical Board minutes from April 2008. Pendergraft agreed not to practice medicine in North Carolina, and his Florida medical license remains suspended.
In 2011, Pendergraft was linked to a Maryland abortion center run by Harold Alexander. The Forestville facility was a “secret” Washington, D.C.–area site advertised at a website Pendergraft maintained (LateTermAbortion.net). In December 2013, the Maryland Board of Physicians issued a cease and desist order against Alexander from performing surgical abortions. Pendergraft’s license to practice medicine in Maryland expired in 1999.
According to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Pendergraft is not licensed to practice medicine in South Carolina.
“Unfortunately, Pendergraft is not uncommon in the abortion industry,” said Jeff Meister, Maryland Right to Life’s director of administration and legislation. “He comes in a long line of late-term abortionists in our state and others who’ve killed babies and seriously injured or killed women.”
Also in 2011, a Florida court awarded a $37 million judgment against Pendergraft in a 2001 lawsuit stemming from a botched abortion that led to a baby being born with cerebral palsy. After Pendergraft failed to pay, Orange County Sheriff’s Department agents in June 2013 raided his Orlando Women’s Center, seizing assets to be sold to settle the suit.
Florida’s Board of Medicine also fined Pendergraft on numerous occasions, including an order in 2013 to pay $122,303.21 in fines and costs for violations of various state medical statutes. Pendergraft’s website and Florida Board of Medicine documents indicate he charged patients between $1,500 and $35,000 for late-term abortions.
At his website, Pendergraft describes one of his late-term abortion methods: Guided by ultrasound, he injects a needle filled with digoxin and potassium chloride through the woman’s abdominal wall into the baby’s heart to “stop the fetal heartbeat,” a procedure that takes two to four minutes. In some cases, Pendergraft gives women Cytotec, a drug that induces labor. In other cases, he releases his patients, who must go to another facility to deliver their dead babies.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited to include comments from Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright.
Bob is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute’s mid-career course.