5 Florida Clinics Blocked From Performing Abortions, Doctor Suspended

State agencies have accused a doctor of failing to follow proper procedures in two late-term abortions, suspended his license and blocked his five clinics from performing abortions.

Dr. James Pendergraft denies the accusations and plans to appeal the order. Spokeswoman Marti Mackenzie said he was "the target of government agencies determined to limit the access of Florida women to safe and legal late-term abortions."

The emergency license suspension order filed last week by the Health Department said that Pendergraf prescribed drugs without appropriate authorization in two third-trimester abortions he performed in 2004 and 2005.

The suspension means Pendergraft cannot practice medicine until his case is reviewed by the state medical board.

The Agency for Health Care Administration barred new patients from obtaining abortions at clinics that Pendergraft partially owns in Orlando, Ocala, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, according to agency documents.

The restrictions on the two Orlando clinics are indefinite; the others are to last until at least Wednesday, agency spokeswoman Brandi Brown said.

The 12-page suspension order said Pendergraft failed to obtain a required second opinion when performing a third-trimester abortion on a woman identified only as R.W. That procedure was also not performed at a hospital, as is required, the order said.

In another instance, clinic records said a woman given drugs to abort her fetus was 22 weeks pregnant, in her second trimester, but the fetus she delivered at home was later determined to be 25 to 27 weeks old and therefore subject to third-trimester restrictions, the order said.

Mackenzie said Pendergraft had appropriate medical documentation for the first abortion. It was performed after the woman learned her fetus was in the breech position, had a swollen head, no lungs and one kidney, according to Mackenzie and the emergency order.

Mackenzie questioned the techniques used to determine that the fetus of the second woman was more than 22 weeks old.

Pendergraft previously pleaded guilty to impeding justice over a federal lawsuit he filed against Marion County claiming a clinic was not adequately protected from abortion protesters. County officials said the lawsuit was part of an extortion plot meant to force them to pay Pendergraft and an associate to close the clinic.